This week, sports minister Agnes Tjongarero announced and unveiled the three members that will serve and form part of the national Appeals Committee, which will have a working relationship with both the line ministry and the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC).
The three members of the national Appeals Committee are legal guru Ruth Herunga (chairperson), veteran sports administrator and expert Dr Donavan Zealand and renowned public policy analyst Dr Marius Kudumo.
I applaud minister Tjongarero for finally bringing this very important national organ to life and for appointing people with the required expertise to arbitrate in all sports disputes. The Namibia Sports Act of 2003 makes provision for the minister to appoint such a committee.
For unnumbered years now, the Namibian sports fraternity has been functioning without the all-imperative national Appeals Committee, a platform where various federations and umbrella bodies can take their grievances and disputes. The unexplained absence of an Appeals Committee over the years has contributed heavily to the endless infightings we are currently witnessing at various federations.
Most recently, the local sporting sector has been under an avalanche of infights between the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and the Namibia Premier League (NPL), and more infights have also been witnessed at the now banished Namibia Gymnastics Federation (NGF).
All these fights could have been resolved or even avoided altogether had there been an alternative legal avenue where these federations could have sought recourse – hence the importance of the newly-installed Appeals Committee.
Just look at the situation in football, both the NPL and NFA leaders had to fork out thousands of dollars in legal fees just to seek justice in civil courts and at times at the very costly Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland. This is partly because the NFA, which is constitutionally required to have all legal bodies in place to resolve football matters, at the time did not have any such legal structures and that left the NPL with no option but to seek justice outside football courts.
The football situation again points to the need for a national Appeals Committee, because had there been one at the time, the NPL and NFA would have resolved their issues locally with the national Appeals Committee and that would have saved them thousands of dollars in legal fees. And not just that, the national Appeals Committee – had there been one at the time – would have played a huge role in saving the face of NGF and others.
Regrettably, the absence of a national Appeals Committee over the years left both the line ministry and the NSC toothless and highly ineffective in resolving disputes between affiliates and both their roles were reduced to that of mere spectators.
I’m confident that with the appointment of the new three-member Appeals Committee, law and order within the local sports fraternity will finally be restored and disputes will be dealt with in a fair, speedy and transparent manner. We the media will be watching with hawk eyes as the new Appeals Committee goes about its business. Until next time, sharp sharp!!