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Classic case of lack of leadership



IN two weeks’ time, Lesotho is set to host the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games in what should have been a rare sporting spectacle for the country. To say Lesotho is not prepared is a gross understatement. The Games are now threatening to be the biggest embarrassment for Lesotho since the country attained independence in 1966. We do not make that statement lightly; we do so having thoughtfully considered its implications. Lesotho knew almost four years ago that it was going to host the youth games. But like most other national projects, we bungled in a very spectacular manner that now threatens to bring shame on this country. Initially the plan was to build new infrastructure but we all know that plan was later abandoned in favour of refurbishing the current stadia. Yet despite having time on our side, the authorities in the Ministry of Sports slept on the job. Now with just two weeks to go, we still do not have the infrastructure in place for the Games. The teams are also not ready. Take for instance, work at Setsoto Stadium. The contractors are battling to complete the installation of a new turf for athletics. The artificial pitch for football was condemned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and attempts to work on the new turf are woefully behind. The dressing rooms and bathrooms at Setsoto are in an advanced state of decay. Work to refurbish the dressing rooms is also way behind. The swimming pools are also not ready. What makes this scandal astonishing is that we bid to host the Games and yet failed to put in place the necessary infrastructure. The last four years went to waste as our politicians were locked in bitter infighting for supremacy. The results are now all clear for everyone to see: the lack of leadership in key national projects. This was a project that was starved of resources. Out of the four national budgets that were delivered, none mentioned in significant detail how the government was going to fund the Games. The result is that we are now facing a national embarrassment. What was supposed to be an opportunity for Lesotho to shine and market itself is now turning into a big embarrassment. This is turning out to be a classic case of how not to organise international games of this magnitude. In fact, it is going to put on display for everyone to see how thoroughly disorganised we are as a country. We are wondering how we will be able to sort out in two weeks what we should have solved in four years. That is simply not possible. In any other country, the Minister of Sports, Likeleli Tampane, should have resigned in shame. But that too would appear to be grossly unfair on the minister. Tampane was only appointed sports minister sometime around mid-last year, three years after Lesotho won the right to host the Games. She is likely to argue that she inherited the mess and it would be unfair to crucify her for the errors of her predecessors. She might have a point. Yet as minister, the buck stops with her. The ministry fell victim to the constant shifts in leadership at ministerial level over the past four years. We are now paying the price for that instability.  

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