HARARE – Treatment of the country’s senior women’s soccer team before and after their appearance at both the Rio Olympics in Brazil and the Africa Women Cup of Nations (Awcon) in Cameroon last year has come back to haunt Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane.
Legislators concerned with the welfare of the Mighty Warriors last week put Hlongwane to task, quizzing the Zanu PF Mberengwa East MP on whether government had a policy of discrimination based on gender.
This emanated from the fact that the senior men’s national team, the Warriors, received huge allowances and bonuses albeit a foiled Africa Cup of Nations appearance that lasted only three matches in Gabon.
Government availed a $1 million package for the Warriors’ participation at Afcon.
MDC Mutare Central legislator Innocent Gonese chronicled the struggles that the Mighty Warriors went through despite the fact that they had made the country proud by making history after qualifying for the Olympics as well as Awcon.
“I think we take note of the assistance which was given to the Warriors by the government. However, my supplementary question… is whether government has got a policy of discrimination because we had the Mighty Warriors who went to the Rio Olympics…who also went to the continental championships here in Africa? They were not given anything and as far as I recall, when they returned from the Rio Olympics, those from Harare were given $5 to return home and those from outside Harare were given $15 only…
“We have a situation where the Warriors were given up to $15 000 just for appearance fees alone. Does the government want to discriminate…Why can’t government assist the Mighty Warriors who actually represented Zimbabwe at a higher level than that where the Warriors went to the Africa Cup of Nations? ” Gonese queried.
In his defence Hlongwane said there was no such policy in place to discriminate any sportsperson on the basis of gender.
“Let me state categorically that government does not have a policy of discrimination on the basis of gender. If anything, a multiplicity of policies in various ministries do speak to the very important need of realising gender parity, gender equality across most of the work that we do.
“In respect of the particular matter that … raises, he gives an example to do with the Olympics. Now, there are structures that manage different competitions. In respect of the Olympics, we have the Zoc (Zimbabwe Olympic Committee) which is an appendage of the International Olympic Committee. It is that organisation that runs all Olympic activities including budgeting and financing,” Hlongwane said.
He added, “They did request for funding from government, we requested for that kind of assistance from the minister of Finance…he did extend a hand and we did fund the Olympic delegation to the tune of $120 000 as government — that we did. Now, the management processes, the administrative processes around how much an individual athlete is paid do no not situate within government structures.
“Those are done by the responsible authority and in this particular case, the Zoc.
“It is regrettable that there was serious miscalculation on the part of Zoc to the extent that they paid out a mean transport allowance to the Mighty Warriors.