The sport ministry says it did not sanction a mission to Cameroon led by deputy sport minister Emma Kantema-Gaomas.
The unauthorised West African adventure, which is said to have cost around N$500 000, is aligned to Botswana inviting Namibia to jointly bid for the hosting duties of the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
The clandestine operation also included the ministry’s executive director Audrin Mathe, Namibia Sports Commission chief administrator Freddy Mwiya, a host of other senior officials and personal assistants but no representative from the Namibia Football Association.
While Botswana’s government has backed the bid, Mathe said they would pronounce themselves upon consulting Cabinet.
The Namibian Sport has it on good authority that Cabinet has not instructed the ministry to act on the proposal.
“Kindly note that the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service has not sent any of its employees to Cameroon and has no plans to do so in the future,” the ministry said in a written response to The Namibian’s query.
When confirming the trip, Mwiya said the exercise was synchronised with their Botswana counterparts following talks between the two nations late last month.
“I cannot say much about it as I have to brief my board. All I can say is that it was an Afcon engagement and sport meeting which was very fruitful,” Mwiya said yesterday.
The expedition, to consult with the latest hosts and lobby support, has been kept under wraps because the situation demands keeping one’s cards close to their chest, Mwiya said.
Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia have also registered their interest in hosting the 36th edition of the continental showpiece.
Kantema-Gaomas received a barrage of criticism on Monday when images of her alongside the acclaimed Cameroon Football Association head Samuel Eto’o surfaced.
The displeasure stems from frustrations with the country’s inadequate infrastructure which has resulted in millions being spent to host Namibia’s home international matches in South Africa.
There has also not been competitive domestic football since the MTC NFA Cup Aweh final in October last year, when Civics beat Mighty Gunners.
“Once the deputy minister returns and all the relevant persons are brought up to speed, we will inform the public of new developments,” Mwiya explained.
“We did not say anything about the trip because sometimes it is better not to publicise your plans when you’re working on a project of this magnitude.”
The travelling party apparently met with Fifa president Gianni Infantino, CAF president Patrice Motsepe, Eto’o and local organising committee officials.
Ex-NFA president Frans Mbidi wore his Cosafa executive hat to smooth over talks, Mwiya said.
Mbidi’s successor Ranga Haikali, who was expelled from his seat through a congress resolution in December, was also in Cameroon.
NFA secretary general Franco Cosmos said Haikali was not there on the NFA’s ticket.
Cosmos, who runs the NFA in the absence of an executive committee, said he declined an invitation to join the entourage to Cameroon given the perilous financial situation at the federation.
“They asked me and I said I cannot go because the NFA does not have money. I would have gone if it was at the invitation of CAF or the organisers because they would ordinarily cover the costs for something like that,” Cosmos said.