Windhoek — Finally, the long-standing and frosty courtship between the Namibian Rugby Union (NRU) and its main financial backers MTC has been consummated.
The rugby partners appear to have struck the right chord at the right time, at least for the time being.
MTC announced that it has agreed to avail a staggering N$2.5 million to keep afloat local rugby this year.
The MTC Rugby Premier League will receive N$1.7 million, while N$800 000 will go towards the African Championship campaign. Money has also been allocated for administration and referees development.
The financially crippled rugby union got a shot in the arm when giant telecommunications company MTC back-tracked on its earlier decision to stop all funding to the troubled union with immediate effect.
At the time, MTC told the thick-hide NRU officials in no uncertain terms where to get off after damaging accusations of mismanagement and financial irregularities surfaced.
The furore, which followed the revelations, prompted aggrieved members to roll up their sleeves and to pass a motion of no-confidence in the previous regime.
"While we received some harsh criticism from some angry members of the public our decision was in the best interest of improving the standard of rugby in the long term and had nothing to do with the sponsorship per se.
"It was merely a temporally resolution and not a permanent one, because we knew that the NRU had the potential, given the right leadership, to bounce back and take up the challenge," said MTC Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer, Tim Ekandjo, at the unveiling of the sponsorship deal in Windhoek yesterday.
Furthermore, the articulate and youthful MTC strongman added that the company has set four key conditions for the NRU, which require that the newly-elected NRU leadership come up with effective governance structures that will support their vision and that the NRU should share audited financial statements so that MTC understands how funds are managed after allegations of gross mismanagement were reported.
"It's our sincere belief that the newly elected NRU management under the leadership of Bradley Basson will take the game of rugby to the next level. We were very impressed with the résumés of the newly elected leaders who appear to possess very strong business acumen and expertise. We are also satisfied with the governance structures implemented, which we believe to be a strong foundation for the new NRU going forward," Ekandjo said.
However, Ekandjo expressed reservations about the NRU's audited statements, which he says were inconclusive either through negligence or mismanagement, and suggested that the culprits be brought to book.
"We hold the current NRU management accountable to this commitment."
MTC has in the meantime softened its hardcore insistence on exclusivity and will allow the NRU to source funds elsewhere to realize its full potential, since the union is still in the woods in as far as finances are concerned.
It will cost about N$2 million for the U-19's and the Sevens national team to participate in upcoming international tournaments.
At the same occasion, Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture Pohamba Shifeta, urged sports administrators to get their ducks in a row and said there is a continued lack of progress among many sporting disciplines, which are seriously hampered by nasty off-the-field issues.
"We don't want to interfere in the internal affairs of sports codes but it should be observed that we have an obligation to intervene in the best interest of the public should the situation demand action from our side."
Shifeta also threw his weight behind Ekandjo's earlier call to bring sports leaders to book should there be any evidence of mismanagement. "Any member or sports administrator who served in the previous leadership should be held accountable for monies lost during their tenure."