26 January 2013

Zambia: Tennis Association Geared for Polls

THE stage is set for today's elective Zambia Tennis Association (ZTA) annual general meeting in Kabwe with incumbent president, Tolani Zulu still undecided on recontesting the top slot.

However, immediate-past Nkana Tennis Club chairperson, Francis Musonda has stepped up to vie for the ZTA presidency during the council meeting slated for Kabwe Prisons Club.

While Zulu claims his two-year tenure had been largely a success with local tennis being taken to another level, Musonda said the sport had suffered greatly especially at club level and needed a new lease of life.

Musonda, who served Nkana for two years, said tennis had 'died' at most clubs across Zambia and that there was an urgent need to revamp the sport.

"I have decided to vie for the ZTA presidency to help revamp tennis in Zambia. So far most clubs have closed down.

"The Copperbelt has lost Roan in Luanshya, Kamenza in Chililabombwe and Chambishi. Generally, all clubs in Zambia are not on the right footing. I want to come and help change the sport's fortunes," Musonda, a senior electrical engineer at the Zesco Limited Kitwe regional office, said.

He said he had been in tennis circles since 1979 when he was a junior player in Chingola and understood the needs of the sport.

But Zulu said he still had up to last night to make up his mind on whether to seek re-election or retire after serving only a term.

Zulu, who took over the mantle from Knox Mbazima, said the ZTA constitution allowed the council to receive nominations on the floor and that they had no deadline.

He said so far none of the members of his outgoing executive had hinted on defending their seats.

Zulu described his tenure as a success, saying for the first time in over 20 years the Zambia Open championship was staged last year with a local player, Edgar Kazembe being the eventual winner.

Kazembe also won the Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi Open tournaments and was runner-up in Botswana and semi-finalist in DR Congo.

Zulu said Zambia's hosting of the 2012 Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Youth Games was another plus for ZTA as apart from having a new tennis complex in Lusaka, local tennis officials also took charge of some games.

The new tennis complex is at the National Sports Development Centre.

However, the thorny issue which the new ZTA executive will have to deal with is how to unbundle the huge US$18,000 debt the association owes the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) in annual subscriptions.

ZTA owes ITF $14,000 (about KR70,000) and $4,000 (about KR20,000) to CAT and Zulu conceded that his executive did not do well to try and clear the arrears.

Zulu said ZTA had been paying in tits and bits just to ensure Zambia continued receiving support from ITF.

He said the association went into a payment plan with ITF and that last month a payment of $600 was made to the global governing authority.

The outgoing ZTA president appealed to the Government to come to the aid of the association.

ZTA is supposed to pay ITF $4,000 per annum in subscription fees.

In the past, Zambia was banned by ITF for failure to meet the financial obligations.

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