Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers are keeping fingers crossed following revelations that the government will further engage various stakeholders to review the stadium projects in terms of ownership among other issues.
Minister of Sports Ulemu Msungama, speaking to Times Exclusive host Brian Banda on TTV on Saturday, said he could not conclusively say that the stadiums belong to the Blantyre based giants.
“The stadiums are part of the nation’s development. As Tonse Alliance we have committed to complete the projects no wonder treasury released funding to the contractors. Bullets and Wanderers are private entities meaning they are not owned by the government. So the projects will continue but to say that the stadiums belong to Bullets or Wanderers is another issue,” he said.
Bullets and Wanderers were promised stadiums by the former governing party-DPP-in a move that was viewed as political to garner votes ahead of the elections.
Msungama said his party then objected the construction of the two stadiums when they were in opposition to avoid setting a bad precedent.
“Let’s say a team like Conforzi has started doing well. It means this team can also demand a stadium, so we didn’t want to set a bad example,” he said.
He said they could not abandon the projects to avoid legal implications for breach of contracts.
He also said funds of the stadiums could not be diverted to other activities including rehabilitation and upgrading of Kamuzu Stadium because progress had already been made.
Bullets chief administration officer, Albert Chigoga, thanked the government for committing to complete the projects.
“As a beneficiary we will keenly follow the steps taken by government about the project. More importantly, we are grateful to government for proceeding with the construction of the stadium,” he said.
Wanderers’ chairperson, Simon Sikwese, welcomed the need to engage the two teams before government decides issues regarding the stadiums.
“I am hoping that before any decision is made there should be an engagement between the ministry and the respective teams so that we clearly understand the change,” he said.
However, former Football Association of Malawi (Fam) acting secretary, George Kaudza-Masina, feels that Bullets and Wanderers were duped.
“According to Public Finance Management Act, government cannot finance a private entity. What government did to build stadia for Bullets and Wanderers was wrong. The DPP government knew this and that is why they were very careful in maintaining ownership of the stadia for fear of contravening the said act.
“Technically these stadia have never been and will never be solely for Bullets and Wanderers, they are and will remain government property for ever. Parliament approved to build two stadia in Blantyre to be used as home grounds for Bullets and Wanderers and nothing to do with ownership. Someone was played here and it was more political than anything else,” he said.
Masina said the Tonse Alliance government has decided to go ahead with the projects because terminating the contract with the contractor might result into legal challenges which might prove to be costly.
“There is no need to review the projects as they are already government properties. Does Wanderers and Bullets have anything to show in terms of ownership? The answer is NO,” he said.
Nevertheless, Masina said government should consider leasing the stadiums to Bullets and Wanderers.
“The best government can do is maybe to lease the stadia to Bullets and Wanderers as a consolation otherwise these are government properties and will as such,” he said.