Mutsauki unpacks National Sports Council

Robert Mutsauki

VETERAN sports administrator Robert Mutsauki believes the proposed National Sports Council that is set to replace the Sports and Recreation Commission will promote inclusivity in sport and bring an integrated sports system. 

The Minister of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture Kirsty Coventry is in the process through Parliament of repealing the Sports and Recreation Commission Act which was created by an Act of Parliament Chapter 25:15 of 1991.

The new legislation piece that will guide the Sports Council policy is still at the drafting stage in the Attorney General’s office. It will go through the necessary consultations and readings in the Parliament before it is enacted.

The Minister, two years ago proposed a National Sports Council Structure that will restructure the current Sports Commission to ensure more efficiency, inclusivity and compliance by national sporting associations that will lead and govern themselves under a structure that will have a 15-member board comprising national association members, Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, Paralympic Committee, Special Olympics leaders as well as Ministerial appointments. 

In unpacking the new policy, the former National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president and former ZOC chief executive Mutsauki welcomed the development which he said was turning back the hands of time as there used to be a similar setup in the 80s.

Back then the Council used to have members such as Tobaiwa Mudede, Albert Nhamoyebonde and George Chisvo to mention a few.

“On the positive side, the new structure is meant to promote inclusivity in sport and perhaps an integrated sports system, so there seem to be noble intentions in bringing about this change. 

“The representation of National Sports Associations in the council is not entirely new because as far as I know NSA representatives were elected to the Sports Council (in the 80s) which was succeeded or replaced by the Sports and Recreation Commission in the early 90s,” he said. According to the new policy submissions made by the Ministry, the chairperson of the Sports Council will always be appointed by the Minister. 

The Zimbabwe Sports Council will have a total number of 15 people. Seven members will be appointed by the Minister while eight will be appointed by the national associations.

The vice-president or the first vice-chairperson would be the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee president, and the second vice-chairperson would be the Zimbabwe National Paralympic president. 

Among the members, there must be an athletes’ representative as the Ministry seeks to empower the national associations, to be leading in sports affairs and governing themselves.

Mutsauki said the composition of the council is good although it might pose some challenges. “However, a council of 15 members could be rather unwieldy leading to delays in decision-making and implementation as opposed to the efficiency which is intended.

“What is new is the appointment of the ZOC president and the ZNPC president as first and second vice-chairperson, respectively, even though individuals from ZOC and people with a disability have served on the SRC board before.

“The inclusion of an athlete representative is also a welcome new development in the proposed structure,” he said.

Mutsauki, however, warned of governance issues that might arise from the setup. 

“It must be stated however that the NSA representatives who will be elected or appointed to the new Sports Council would be expected to promote the cause of all registered NSAs in the country and not just their narrow interests.

“Since there are only five members to be appointed from the more than fifty registered sports associations, one can expect intense lobbying and contestation to secure those few seats. “Indeed, the new structure may also bring about governance challenges. For example, what happens if there is a rift between those appointed by the Minister and the others? Hopefully a situation of ‘them’ and ‘us’ will not develop and hence the appointment of the “right” chairperson will be critical as he or she will need to have the ability to successfully steer this ‘big ship’ and to keep everybody focused on the task at hand,” said Mutsauki. 

He added that the success of the Council will border around the weaknesses of the initial council as well as the challenges of the Sports and Recreation Commission. 

“The success of the new Sports Council is not necessarily a foregone conclusion but will depend on a number of factors including the calibre of members and their commitment to the cause as well as the relevance of this institution within the Zimbabwe Sports Industry; some have raised this question of relevance on a number of occasions. 

“One also hopes that the identified weaknesses of the initial Sports Council and the successor Sports and Recreation Commission will be overcome so that it does not turn out to be exactly the same entity but now dressed in a new costume just to make it look more attractive.

Herald

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