INSIZA North Member of Parliament Andrew Langa was yesterday named the Sport, Arts and Culture minister in the new government.
He will be deputised by Tabetha Malinga.
The new ministry seems to be a response by President Mugabe to calls to separate sport from education in a bid to unlock value and open doors for corporate partnerships and sponsorship in the process creating jobs for the youth.
Mugabe went even further and appointed the former Education, Sport, Arts and Culture deputy minister Lazarus Dokora as the man in charge of the new Primary and Secondary Education ministry while Olivia Muchena will be in charge of Higher and Tertiary Education.
In the past under David Coltart, sport struggled to get a voice, as all attention — and rightly so — was on uplifting education.
But will Langa fit the bill in particular when it comes to funding for the country’s most popular sport — football?
Zifa, the country’s football mother body has been calling for this ministry for a long time as they felt neglected in terms of resource allocation. They are sitting on a $4 million debt and have recently launched a Zimbabwe Football Trust in a bid to fundraise and clear the arrears.
Property continues to be attached at the national association over various debts and elsewhere in today’s paper, some employees from the former regime of Wellington Nyatanga, whose tenure was entangled in the Asiagate scandal, want more property to be attached to pay off monies owed to them.
In 2009, Langa survived suspension, together with then Foreign Affairs deputy minister Abednico Ncube, over their alleged role in the Tsholotsho Declaration, which sought to ensure leadership renewal in Zanu PF, right from the top.
Since then, he has gone to become Public Service deputy minister and now finally assumes a full ministry with a weight of expectations on his shoulders.
After all, Langa, the provincial chairman and Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, delivered the entire Matabeleland South to the ruling party.
Zifa have been the chief advocates for the creation of the ministry in the last few years and Mugabe had hinted during Benjani Mwaruwari’s testimonial last year that he could accommodate them in future.
Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze last night said: “This is a victory for sport in general and football in particular. And this is a testament to the important role that sport plays globally in employment creation, recreation and development across cultures.
“It will help unlock the value of sport and convince the corporate world that sport is now being taken seriously. And its infusion with arts and culture also falls in line with the millennium development goals.
“Investors who were waiting on the wings can now come in and put their money in competitions, infrastructure or even the various associations themselves.
“As the football family, we can’t wait to meet with the new minister and introduce to him the board, the trust, the Golden Jubilee committee and the 2014 Chan-bound senior national men’s (football) team.”
Langa comes in when the Basketball Union of Zimbabwe has failed to raise funds for the Afro-basket championships and the Hockey Association of Zimbabwe has also failed to get money for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The national cricket team’s hosting of Sri Lanka is in doubt as Zimbabwe Cricket has asked for a postpoment. Magamba Hockey Stadium, Harare, has to be refurbished to host next year’s World Club Championships while Bulawayo has won the right to host the 201 Zone VI Games.
A full plate for Langa!