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MBABANE – Athletics in Eswatini is currently facing a tumultuous period, as several teams have come together to address a range of pressing concerns.

A petition, signed by 11 clubs and spearheaded by Muzi Mabuza of Manzini Athletics, highlights four key issues within the Athletics Eswatini (AE) organisation. One of the main grievances raised in the petition revolves around the awarding of scholarships. The clubs claim that certain athletes with connections to senior board members have been granted scholarships without following the proper procedures. Instead of considering factors, such as race times, competition participation, and individual achievements, the two candidates, the teams alleged, were handpicked, causing division among AE members. Late in September, this year, Eswatini Olympics and Commonwealth Games Association (EOCGA) launched the Youth Scholarship Programme, which is the first-of-its-kind.

It will benefit seven young athletes who were identified by the benefitting sporting codes that include boxing, cycling, swimming, athletics and taekwondo. Beneficiaries from athletics were identified as Nokwethu Nhlabatsi and Mayibongwe Vilakati. Worth noting is that the scholarship is worth E1 million. Another contentious matter is the establishment of a disciplinary committee without adhering to AE/WA (World Athletics) procedures. The clubs, led by Manzini Athletics, have submitted a letter requesting a special general meeting in accordance with Article 15.1 of the AE constitution. They believe that addressing these administrative challenges is essential to ensuring the proper functioning of AE and unifying the divided board.

Mabuza emphasised that the clubs involved in the petition are deeply concerned about the current state of affairs within the federation. They aim to trigger Article 15.1, which will facilitate a special general assembly to address the existing issues and seek a way forward. By doing so, they hope to restore harmony and effectiveness to AE, as outlined in Article 13.8. AE Secretary, Thoba Mazibuko, confirmed the receipt of the petition and assured that the date for the special general assembly would be discussed in due course. Notably, the aggrieved teams and the AE executive met the Eswatini Sport and Recreation Council Chief Executive Officer Darius Dlomo in Lobamba last week and it was agreed that a eagerly-awaited be held. This is done in a bid to resolve the division in one of  Eswatini’s biggest sporting codes.

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