The clock is ticking for the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) to reconsider the application by the Namibia Premier League (NPL) for registration as a national sports body in terms of the Namibia Sports Act 2003 (Act No. 12 of 2003) (“the Act”). This owing to the decision by the three-member Appeal Committee ordering the NSC to properly evaluate and reconsider the NPL application and pronounce itself on the matter by the end of this month (April).
In its 13-page ruling, the Appeal Committee berated the NSC for several shortcomings resulting from the manner in which the NSC dealt with the NPL application and the evidence (or lack thereof) it presented before the Appeal Committee. Chief among those was the fact that no record of the purported decision by the NSC to decline the NPL application, as communicated on 27 November 2020, was available.
It is only fair to enquire how an administrative body like the NSC would take a decision and not record the same. This is despite the fact that the NSC was notified late last year that its decision will be taken on review and it requested and was granted at least one deferment of the Appeal Committee hearing, to get its ducks in the row.
The pressing question though is, whose decision was communicated to the NPL? Who took that decision, when and where? Two possibilities consequently emerge, either the NSC is not in the habit of documenting its major decisions or a personal preference was advanced as a decision of the NSC.
Whichever is indeed the case, it certainly throws a bad light on the NSC and its governance. The shocking finding of all was that some of the minutes provided seemed altered. This could be a choice between an intention to withhold certain information or misrepresent the deliberations, amongst others. Whatever the true intention was, it was not a feature of responsible, transparent or credible administration and governance.
However, it was interesting to note that Loini Shikale-Ambondo and her team did not leave the NSC to run loose and rely on own devices but rather provided a well carved framework for guidance. As should have been apparent for the NSC, it must confine itself to the provisions of section 26 of the Act when considering an application for registration as a national sports body or a national umbrella sports body, that’s for any applicant not just the NPL. This should have become engraved in the NSC processes by now given the relatively long existence of the Act.
It was also made clear for the NSC that whether an applicant is registered with a regional or international body should be of no consequence. This should be welcome news for the NSC, that’s if it is news at all. It cements the NSC’s authority over sport and sport activities in Namibia, without any global and continental body dictating to it.
Additionally, it was told that the applicable Act does not bar the registration of multiple national sports bodies for any given sport code. This reminder was necessary, as the NSC appeared to have forgotten that it had registered two national umbrella sports bodies for the angling sports code.
With the above, the NSC should get it right within the stated period. It can’t be simplified any further, they must just focus on section 26 (2) and all should be good to go. Importantly, it is the NSC, which must determine the application and not its management. One appreciates the crucial supporting role of the management for the operations and activities of the NSC, but it is those commissioners who must consider the application against section 26 of the Act, apply their mind to the relevant facts and decide whether the application meets the threshold set or falls short.
This function is designated to and reserved for the commissioners and the commissioners only. They may take advise from the management and any other advisers but it’s their decision to make, falling within the four corners of our law, thereby passing the tests for legality, rationality, fairness and reasonableness. Indeed, the NSC is well saddled to deliver on this one.