THE Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation Tjoetsane Seoka says the M339 million allocated to the ministry to cater for the hosting of the African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games and 2022 African Youth Games is inadequate.
This after Finance minister Moeketsi Majoro yesterday announced that the cabinet had “re-examined the proposals on the table and concluded that the hosting of games should be within the affordability of the Lesotho fiscus”.
This effectively trimmed the M2.4 billion budget that had been set for the construction of infrastructure, logistical and hosting costs of the AUSC games in December this year.
The project has been marred in controversy after South African company Property 24 that had initially been contracted to finance the project allegedly failed to provide credible proof of finance to fund the project.
The government eventually cancelled the contract and engaged another company to finance the project.
The ministry intended to construct a 20 000-seater football stadium and a 3 000-capacity indoor multipurpose arena at Lepereng. The project was also supposed to have a 3 000 residential unit games village, a 4 000-seater football and athletics stadium, a recreational center and tennis courts; all at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) campus.
The whole project was to cost M2.4 billion and Property2000 had been handed the contract but the ministry’s information officer Retšelisitsoe Matsepe recently announced that the contract has been revoked.
However, the project had already received a critical opinion from Finance ministry officials who said the government did not have the capacity to undertake it.
And Dr Majoro yesterday said cabinet had re-examined the proposal and concluded that the hosting of games should continue but within an affordable budget.
“…Cabinet has re-examined the proposals on the table and concluded that the hosting of games should be within the affordability of the Lesotho fiscus,” Dr Majoro said.
“Consequently, this budget includes M339 million to cater for infrastructure, logistical and hosting costs.”
He said an inter-ministerial technical team had been mobilised to find affordable hosting options and that can be financed “from the fiscus and not through questionable loans”.
“It appears that Lesotho should be in a position to host the games later this year. Going forward, Lesotho should prepare carefully both technically and to ensure that necessary infrastructure is made available across the country,” Dr Majoro said.
Mr Seoka yesterday told the Lesotho Times that they had initially proposed to get M600 million from the government and therefore M339 million was in adequate.
Seoka said from the M339 million, they have already received M139 million to prepare the team and other operations while the remaining M200 is meant to refurbish already existing facilities.
“Our proposed budget was M600 million, which was to be used in preparations and other operations. It must be clear that we are not going to use this money to construct new infrastructure as initially planned but we will now refurbish existing facilities. We must compromise to host the games but the M339 million is still not enough to do that,” Mr Seoka said.
Mr Seoka said they were however, they would still meet with the Finance ministry to plead for more funds.
“We must meet with the Ministry of Finance and ask for more money because what we got is inadequate,” he said.
Mr Seoka also said they were also expecting some grants from donors and will continue with their original plan if they get the required funds.
“The funds that we had requested for would have catered for the December games and the 2022 Youth Games but we will compromise for this year while awaiting a grant from donors. We should know next week if the funds will come through.
“Should we get the money, we will continue with the original project but we will resort to plan B if that fails,” Mr Seoka said.
Meanwhile, the ministry has been allocated M358 million in the 2020/21 financial. This is an improvement from the M130.7 million allocated to the ministry in the 2019/20 financial year.