MTC on Tuesday announced that it was resuming its sponsorship agreement with the Namibia Rugby Union and announced a financial commitment of N$2,5 million for the 2012 season.
The announcement follows weeks of uncertainty after MTC had earlier suspended its sponsorship following the resignation of the former NRU excom after the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Speaking at a press conference at MTC’s head quarters in Olympia, MTC’s Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer Tim Ekandjo slammed the previous excom of the NRU, and added that the renewal of its sponsorship would depend on how the new NRU under the leadership of Bradley Basson managed its affairs.
“MTC temporarily suspended its sponsorship to the NRU a few months ago. This we did to express our dismay and disgust in the manner in which the NRU leadership managed or rather mismanaged the affairs of the NRU. Because we are accountable to our shareholders money, and by shareholders I am referring to our customers, we suspended the sponsorship in the best interest of the game,” he said.
Ekandjo said they had set some key conditions for their sponsorship to resume, namely that a new leadership with vision and effective governance structures be elected, and that it shared its audited financial statements. He said the NRU had given a presentation to MTC and that they had been impressed.
“We were impressed with their resumes of the newly elected leaders that all have very strong business acumen and experience. We were also impressed by the governance structures implemented which we believe builds a strong foundation for the NRU going forward. The vision for Rugby in the country as outlined by the leadership clearly demonstrates that they carefully thought about it, by involving all levels of the game,” he said.
Ekandjo said they had received the audited statements of the previous excom, but that it was rather inconclusive of whether any negligence or mismanagement of funds took place.
“The NRU has however committed to further investigate this particular matter and we have an agreement with the NRU that this investigation should be ongoing, and if any of the members are found to have been negligent or mismanaged any funds, that they be brought to book and we will hold the NRU accountable to this commitment,” Ekandjo added.
The NRU had presented a budget of N$4 million to successfully fund its activities for 2012, which included the national leagues, the African Rugby Championships, Sevens Rugby and the national Under 19 team’s participation in the World Cup qualifiers.
“The renewal of this sponsorship will entirely depend on how the new leadership manage the affairs of the NRU this year. While I said that we are impressed with their resumes, we want to give them ample time to prove that they mean business and that they have the best interest of rugby at heart through what they do and not only what they told us they will do. It is therefore up to Mr Basson and his team to prove to all of us that rugby now has a new agenda, an agenda of progress with a winning mentality,” Ekandjo said.
The biggest part of MTC’s 2012 sponsorship will cover the national leagues, with N$1,7 million earmarked for this, while N$800 000 will go towards the national team’s participation in the African Rugby Championship. Administration and referee development expenses have also been included in the overall sponsorship.
MTC also set a number of conditions for their sponsorship, which included assisting the NRU to manage the sponsorship money by administering and paying suppliers, the provision of quarterly reports on the progress of the NRU, and that the NRU continues investigating the mismanagement of its finances and brings ant culprits to book.
Ekandjo added that the NRU was free to source other sponsors for its Sevens and Under 19 commitments.
Basson thanked MTC for its continued assistance of Namibian rugby, saying that it could not have achieved its goals without MTC’s support.
“This type of gesture clearly shows that there are people and business entities who still believe in the potential of Namibian rugby, despite the setbacks that we have suffered. Now we can officially announce that our national team will depart to Madagascar to compete in the Africa Cup during July,” he said.
Shifeta calls for accountability
The Deputy Minister of Sport Pohamba Shifeta, who also attended the press conference, said they had serious problems with the previous executive committee of the NRU and that they must be held accountable for their mismanagement.
“For the World Cup we gave money directly to the players because we had serious problems with the NRU leadership. Before we gave them money but it never reached the players,” he said.
“Those who messed up must be held accountable... they quit and are not there anymore, but the previous leadership must be held accountable,” he said.