House asks Government to honour Sh50 million pledge

By Gilbert Wandera: Thursday, February 21st 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Michael Olunga (R) of Kenya challenges Antene Tesfaka (L) and Ashalew Tamene of Ethiopia during their AFCON 2019 qualifier match at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya on October 2018. [Stafford Ondego]

A parliamentary committee has asked the Ministry of Sports to honour its promise of Sh50 million to national team, Harambee Stars, for qualifying for this year’s Africa Cup of  Nations (Afcon) finals.

Victor Munyaka who chairs the sports, culture and tourism committee, said the gesture was a performance-based pledge and should be honoured since the national team attained the feat by qualifying to Afcon finals that run on June 21 to July 19 in Egypt.

“I was there when the pledge was made by Deputy President William Ruto at Kasarani Stadium.  At the time, it looked like a political statement but we are asking the government to honour the pledge immediately.

“This is to avoid any backlash that may come up as a result of non-payment. The players deserve it and they should be paid,” he told Sports Principal Secretary Peter Kaberia.

Kaberia and some top Sports Ministry officials appeared before the committee to discuss the ministry’s budget estimates.

The Principal Secretary had told the committee that the Sh50 million pledge was part of the Sh244 million set aside for Harambee Stars preparations and participation in the tournament.

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Sports PS Peter Kaberia. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

But Munyaka said the money should be separated from the team’s budget for the tournament.

Kaberia acknowledged that the money should not be included in the tournament’s budget. Harambee Stars will play their last qualifier match against Ghana early next month away.

Both Ghana and Kenya have already qualified for the final tournament and the match will be used to decide the group winners.

The committee also questioned the ministry on the Sh35 billion set aside for the construction of three stadia in Nairobi, Mombasa and Eldoret.

“We visited Russia during the World Cup last year and saw some good stadia whose costs were not more than Sh9 billion per stadium. What kind of stadia do you want to build that will cost that kind of money,?” asked Munyaka.

But Kaberia said they had scaled down the costs and are now focusing on building 5,000 to 10,000 seater stadia, which conform to Fifa and IAAF standards.

The committee also asked the ministry to shed light on the Sh150million that has already been spent on feasibility studies carried out on the stalled stadia.

Kaberia told the committee that the Kenya Academy of Sports (KAS) headquarters is 40 per cent complete and Sh641 million has been spent on it.