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Kick Off: SPORTS MINISTER MISQUOTED?

ON 31st August certain tabloids and online publications published an article claiming that sports minister Emmanuel Mulenga wrote FAZ informing them that he had difficulties accepting their proposed budget towards upcoming Chipolopolo engagements.

Well, the minister refuted having written such a letter, claiming social media misquoted him.

I endeavoured to look for this social media lie in ‘flesh’ as I have done for so many years under such circumstances and indeed found one dated 29th August, 2019 marked “confidential.”

The letter was addressed to FAZ and also copied to Secretary to the Cabinet, PS Ministry of Sports, FAZ executive committee members, FAZ GS and director of sports in the Ministry of Sports and further bears the minister’s signature, with contents below: “I wish to bring to your attention that I am at pain supporting financing of Football (FAZ) in the 2020 fiscal year because:

a. I noted with my concern that your organisation is not a member of the National Sports Council of Zambia as indicated in your constitution on page 5, and 9 article 13 section (f) and (g). Likewise, page 18, article 33 and on page 32, Article 65 on Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ), and National Sports Council of Zambia (NSCZ) have been removed. In light of the foregoing, I write to ask you how I will specifically support the proposed budget when in fact there seems to be no contractual obligation between FAZ and government. This shows that the association is now an international body which is not registered in our nation and there is no ownership by the Zambian people whose funds we should use to support the association.

b. Further, I have noted that other Football constitutions such as Botswana Football Association constitution, South Africa Football Association constitution and the Kenya Football Association constitution have their Republican constitution at the helm of their football constitutions. On the contrary, FAZ seems to remove NSCZ caption which is recognised in the Constitution of Zambia and mandated to ensure that all laws and regulations are followed by all sports federations.

3. Additionally, I believe public resources are governed by the Public Finance Management Act No. 1 of 2018, and it is expected that these resources ought to be used prudently and in a transparent manner. It is against this background that I wish to know [how] the allocated funds for FAZ will be defended in Parliament;

4. I want to reiterate that I am not trying to put the Football Association of Zambia executive committee in the spotlight but rather offer checks and balances so that the sports association is accountable to the Zambian people and follow laid-down procedures;

5. I have noted that your constitution does not have clauses to protect whistle-blowers. According to the laws of Zambia and international laws on whistle-blowers; there is need to protect whistle-blowers in order to uphold ethical standards and integrity in organisations. It has come to my attention that anyone who talks about financial malpractices is banned and funds in FAZ are not used prudently;

6. Can you give reasons on how I should defend the amount indicated on the budget in Parliament seeing there is no contractual obligation with the National Sports Council of Zambia and how the Under Girls and Boys teams are going to represent Zambia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games when you are not a member of the Zambia National Olympic Committee and who will meet the cost?

I should be grateful if all these concerns are addressed as soon as possible.

This is the much sought after confidential letter that Minister of Sports Emmanuel Mulenga wrote FAZ in response to that K12 million budget proposal from FAZ towards the upcoming international engagements for the Chipolopolo, specifically the 2021 AfCON as well as 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

I am not an expert at law but here is what the current FAZ constitution in article 1.1 under General Provisions states:
“FAZ is a legal entity of an associative nature, registered under the National Sports Council Act, Chapter 142 of the Laws of Zambia with perpetual succession.”

By virtue of the above article, I will leave it here for the public to judge whether FAZ still falls under the NSCZ or not.

Article 80 clause 2 in the FAZ constitution says:
“If FAZ is disbanded, its assets shall be transferred to the National Sports Council of Zambia (NSCZ). It shall hold these assets as a trustee in accordance with the relevant professional duties until FAZ is re-established. The final AGM or EGM may, however, choose another recipient for the assets on the basis of three quarters majority.”

Again let the public and experts judge why FAZ should transfer its assets to the NSCZ, a body it does not belong to, in case it’s disbanded.

I am not a defender of FAZ or individuals. In fact honourable minister, deal with individuals destroying our football, but please don’t destroy football itself. Allow senior Chipolopolo, U-23, U-20 and girls to operate smoothly because after all FAZ is answerable to the people through NSCZ contrary to the ‘fake’ letter circulating purported to have come from your honourable office.

Anyway, both FAZ and the NOCZ are under the Sports Council of Zambia that was established through an Act of Parliament, so you social media fanatics stop denting the minister’s honourable office.
I rest my case!

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