Chaos reigns supreme at Youth Games

BULAWAYO - The local organising committee (LOC) is in a fix after allegations of ill preparedness that has seen the 2014 African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Under-20 Youth Games being rocked by a raft of challenges that might blemish the country's image.

Investigations by this paper revealed that despite millions of dollars being spent on funding infrastructural development and refurbishing game venues and stadia as well as the welfare of athletes and officials, a lot of grey areas have emerged.

Speaking to the Daily News crew yesterday, a source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the whole process was marred by confusion from the onset.

"The local organisers failed to prepare for the games while they had all the time to do so. From the onset, the accreditation process which was marred by confusion told a lot and ended up taking longer than anticipated," said the source.

This saw several officials including some journalists being accredited after the games had already kicked off.

Some drivers interviewed by this paper yesterday indicated that their welfare was not been well taken care of as initially promised.

"All the official drivers signed contracts which stated that the first payment for their vehicles will come after five days, but up to date the owners of the vehicles have not received anything, while some drivers have been threatening to abandon the contracts owing to ill-treatment," one of the drivers said.

As if that is not enough, the drivers are reported to have started getting their meals five days after the games had commenced while some officials would get their food after the afternoon games.

"The local organisers assigned a local bed manufacturing company to make beds and mattresses for the athletes. But the mattresses were oversized and they could not fit into the hostels so they had to use cutting torches to resize the steel beds", said another source.

The organisers were also caught napping when the hostels occupied by the Namibian athletes experienced a pipe burst which resulted in athlete's luggage and beds being  drenched in water.

The Daily News understands that at one point Team Zimbabwe was forced to relocate to Bulawayo Polytechnic College to accommodate the South African team due to poor planning by the organisers.

Sebastian Garikai, who is in charge of the Zimbabwean team, refuted the allegations saying everything was going according to plan.

He, however, referred further questions to LOC chairperson Khonzani Ncube who also said she was not aware of such developments.

"What I can say is that all the teams are stationed at the games village (Hillside Teachers College) and no reports were made concerning Team Zimbabwe moving out of the games village to the Bulawayo Polytechnic College."

"We have daily meetings with the countries representatives and no reports were made concerning a burst pipe in the Namibian hostel. I will however consult the engineering director to comment on the issue," she said.

Originally, when the Sport ministry was under David Coltart during the GNU, the minister had directed that the games be held in Bulawayo with the idea of constructing a games village at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust).

A tentative budget of $43 million had been proposed for the development of a games village. The infrastructure on the campus would then serve as students hostels after the games.

Ncube said stated that all allegations relating to shoddy organisation of the games were news to her since all the athletes were supposed to be at the games village. She was adamant that so far the teams were comfortable with arrangements.

She however requested written questions for a comprehensive response but by the time of going to print she had not responded.

Games, meanwhile, were abandoned at White City Stadium yesterday after officials staged a sit-in demanding payment of their allowances.

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