A Call for ZAAA president to Resign for Failing Zambian Sports after 19 years in office.

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Help us to get enough signatures in order to ensure that through the National Sports Council  and  Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development, the President of the Zambia Amateur Athletic Association (ZAAA) Mr. Elias Mpondela accounts for the funds used for the Lusaka Lafarge Marathon in 2018, and makes commitments to improve the management of the event in 2019. Mr. Mpondela has been the President of the body charged with managing the affairs of all matters athletics in Zambia since 1999. We feel Mr. Mpondela needs to step down and allow others with the capacity and a genuine interest in the development of sports in the country to run the association.

While we have our views on other matters pertaining to the overall management of athletics in the country, this petition specifically addresses the incompetencies exposed during the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Lusaka Lafarge Marathon races. ZAAA has been managing the Lusaka Lafarge Marathon for five years. The last three years have seen runners (who are now exposed to more running events locally and internationally) give feedback on improvements that need to be made. However, the same problems continue to afflict runners every year. These problems include, but are not limited to:

1. Road safety was very poorly handled. The 2016 Lusaka Lafarge Marathon saw a runner being hit by a car on Independence Avenue. There were no marshals, traffic police or ambulances at the time of the incident. Bystanders who had come to support members of their local running club assumed duties of traffic control until the ambulance arrived. One would think this would serve to ensure that traffic control and participants’ safety would be prioritized in the following years. However, the situation remains the same, resulting in another international participant from Kenya being hit by a car in the 2018 event. In addition, other participants complained of near-misses with cars and harassment from motorists as they tried to share the roads which were supposed to be closed for the event but were not.
2. There were no route markings for most of the route, and the route marshals, when available, were not aware of the route. In some instances runners were completely misdirected and ended up running upwards of 5 extra kilometers due to the misinformation. Further, there was no time check on an IAAF approved international marathon with prize money which meant that a participant could easily take a shortcut and there would be no way of verifying that they indeed ran the full race.
3. There were not enough hydration stations on the 42km route. This is a complaint that has been raised in previous races organized by ZAAA but no improvements have been made over the years despite this race having the highest race entry fee in the country. The energy drink served is not approved for athletes’ use, as it is alleged to contain performance-enhancing substances.
4. The handing out of medals was a shambles, as people who ran 42km in under five hours were being asked to receive two 21km medals instead. This is unacceptable for a race that charged said runners close to USD 35, and was fully funded to the tune of K1,000,000 according to news reports. Others, despite wearing bibs, were being asked what distance they ran when they got to the finish line and could claim any distance and get any medal. This is indicative of poor or no training of the volunteers.

We have seen many other complaints on social media, but have only listed the ones that we were able to verify.

We find that the conduct of the Zambia Amateur Athletics Association has been less than satisfactory in the last 19 years of Mr. Mpondela’s tenure as president. Zambia as a country has a lot of sporting talent and should be in a position to bring back medals from the Olympics. However this has not been achieved and Mr. Mpondela instead continues to measure his effectiveness based on one event which is the Inter Company Relay, focusing on a demographic that will not bring sports in the country to the level we need to be at. Rather than work with local runners and clubs who exhibit talent to move the country forward, the association instead works to intimidate and threaten anyone who shows potential.

We are demanding that the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development to ensure that Mr. Mpondela publicly tells the Zambian running community what steps he will take to ensure that the concerns raised this year are addressed, that he account for the K1,000,000 received from sponsors, and also the monies raised from race entry fees received from hard-working Zambians. Numerous calls have been made for Mr. Mpondela to step down but to no avail. All that has happened is that he has gone on national television shows and to the local newspapers to defend his position while making very few, if any, changes towards the development of sports in Zambia. We need a change in the ZAAA administration and are relying on the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development to facilitate the transition. #EliasMpondelaMustGo