Let’s invest in women in sport- Letticia Viana

19 March 2024

Letticia Viana is an Assistant Sports Officer in the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs and also a FIFA accredited referee who has officiated World Cup and AFCON finals. In our latest civil servants’ blog, she talks about the challenges of working in a male-dominated sports industry.

Government Communications (GC): “When did you join the Civil Service?”

Letticia Viana (LV): “I joined the Civil Service in 2007 and was deployed to the Ministry of Education, In-service training department as a Junior Clerical Officer.”

GC: “What is your current job now and what does it entail?”

LV: “I now work in the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs as an Assistant Sports Officer. My duties include coordinating the establishment of low maintenance multi-purpose sports fields across the country (e.g. identification of site, organizing appropriate heavy plant machinery to clear site and monitoring that communities have low maintenance sporting fields where the youth can practice sport). The fields usually accommodate football, netball, volleyball and athletics. I am also responsible for maintenance of the already existing sports fields throughout the country; dealing with all correspondence related to sporting activities; and managing Somhlolo National Stadium and supervising Stadium staff.”

GC: “So far, what would you say the biggest highlight/achievement of your Civil Service journey has been?”

LV: “Working with communities, travelling around the country and getting to interact with people and seeing the situations that they are faced with. I also enjoy the priceless moments when we complete sports fields in communities. The joy that you see among the youth and elders of that community is always priceless. It’s not much but they are always grateful and highly appreciative.”

GC: “What is the biggest project that you have been involved in working for Government?”

LV: “It has to be the ongoing rehabilitation of Somhlolo National Stadium.”

GC: “You are also a FIFA accredited referee. How and when did you get into referring?”

LV: “I started refereeing in 2005 after having played football for Two For Joy and Mbabatane FC. I was recruited by Mandla Gama who was a FIFA and Premier League referee at that time.”

GC: “What have been some of you highlights of your referring career?”

LV: “They include being:

  • First liSwati in CAF ELITE A category (2015 to date).
  • First liSwati to officiate in an AFCON (Women’s: 2016 Cameroon, Ghana 2018, and Morocco 2022, as well as 2023 Men’s U-23 Morocco).
  • First liSwati to officiate at a World Cup (2022 U-17 Women’s World Cup).
  • First liSwati to qualify to officiate as a Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
  • First female referee to be promoted to the Premier League of Eswatini in 2007.”

GC: “How difficult is it to work in such a male-dominated industry and what strategies do you employ to overcome the challenges you face?”

LV: “When I started it was very difficult because I was the first female (to referee in the Premier League) and I was dealing with people’s perceptions. People believed that refereeing was not a woman’s job. The only strategies I employed was to work harder than my male colleagues and pray I would be given a chance someday. While it has been painful being over looked because of my gender, I also understood earlier in my career that I am not doing this for myself but rather for every girl child out there. It brings me great joy today to see many female referees around and some in the Premier League. It’s not just me now but it’s “us” working together to open doors for the next generation of female referees.”

GC: “What do you think can and should be done to improve the participation of women in sport in Eswatini and Africa?”

LV: “It’s important to just give support to the ladies. We should remember that women who participate in sport are usually wives, mothers, care givers, and leaders of households. Some have to work during the day, knock off and go for training and in the evenings still have families to take care of. Women athletes juggle more in their lives than our male counterparts and they still perform by all means. It is important to address the issue of equal pay between male and female sport practitioners. Some women are fully employed by sport, but the pay (if there even is) is really not enough for them to live by. Companies should also invest the same resources in women’s sport as they do in men’s sport. Companies will always sponsor men’s tournaments with more and when they do remember women, the invested amounts become very disappointing figures. Let us invest in our women.”

GC: “What do you love the most about your job and profession?”

LV: “Sport is my passion and I was always an active child at school. I ran 800m for my school, I threw javelin and I also played football. After school I studied Sport Management and today I am working for the Ministry of Sports, so basically I am living my dream.”

GC: “What lessons have you learnt working for Government?

LV: “The value of human life. Our country is challenged in many areas and our Government is also trying as much as possible to improve the lives of the people.”

GC: “What advice would you have for someone who wants to work for Government?”

LV: “Working for Government is a service to your country. If you genuinely have a heart and love for people, then you can consider it. It’s no secret that civil servants are not paid a lot but each day they report to their duty stations to work, with the sole purpose of helping and serving people.”

GC: “What are your aspirations for the future in Government?

LV: “I am a sport person through and through and wouldn’t mind finding myself among the top administrators of Sport in our country. Who knows, I might have a small contribution that can be of benefit.”


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Hon. Bongani Nzima profile

The Honourable Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs, Muzi Bongani Nzima, was born on 9 October 1978 in Hlatikhulu, in the Shiselweni region. The Honourable Minister completed the then O’ Level certificate at Nhletjeni High School in 1998.

Hon. Nzima began his extensive work experience journey spanning well over 20 years soon after completing high school, first serving as Programs Manager at Swaziland Farmers Development Foundation for two years. The Minister then joined World Vision as Relief Coordinator, a position he occupied until 2007. In March 2008, the Hon. Minister took up a role as Community Development Assistant (CDA) at the Ministry of Tinkhundla’s Manzini Regional Office.

In 2010, Hon. Nzima then joined Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors without Borders, an organisation he served across a variety of roles until 2023, including two posts in Sudan and Armenia. In both those countries, the Hon. Minister served as Health Promotions Manager (expatriate) for MSF. The Hon. Minister has skills and experience in disaster response, community engagement, health education, and capacity building, to name a few.

Hon. Nzima is currently enrolled for a Bachelor’s Degree in Education- Adult Education at the University of Eswatini. The Hon. Minister has a Diploma in Project Management; a Diploma in Sustainable Community Development as well as other certifications in telecommunications, team management, and psychosocial support to name a few.

In September 2023, Hon. Nzima was elected directly by the people of Sandleni Inkhundla as their Member of Parliament (MP). Then, on 13 November 2023, His Majesty King Mswati III appointed Hon. Nzima as the 4th Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs of the Kingdom of Eswatini.


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Following the declaration of a National Emergency made by His Majesty King Mswati III and announced by Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini last week as well as a partial lockdown effective 27 March 2020, the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs wishes to provide the following guidance:

On Sport:

  1. The Ministry appreciates the understanding and cooperation of sponsors, associations, clubs, athletes, supporters and all stakeholders in ensuring that Government measures are adhered to. Similarly, the Ministry understands & regrets the losses that have been incurred by organisations as a result of these measures.
  1. All international travel for sporting purposes remains banned until such a time that the Ministry advises otherwise.
  1. All forms of sport gathering, formal and informal (including social sport & traditional games) is suspended until the Ministry advises otherwise. This also includes sport at grassroots levels such as ‘stokvel’’ tournaments. This will be enforced in collaboration with the Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development & community leaders.
  1. Bookings for the usage of the Somhlolo National Stadium are hereby suspended until further notice.
  1. Sporting associations are directed to ensure that all affiliates and clubs suspend group training sessions with immediate effect. Instead, coaches and clubs are encouraged to develop individual training programs which athletes will follow from their individual places of abode.
  1. Similarly, Gyms are encouraged to suspend gatherings that attract many people such as aerobics sessions. Gym fanatics are encouraged to follow training programs from their homes.
  1. The Ministry, through the Eswatini Sport & Recreation Council (ESRC) has also suspended Sports Association’s annual review meetings until further notice. As a result, associations which were already recognised by the Ministry will continue to enjoy that recognition until the review meetings can resume.
  1. Sporting associations are further directed to instruct their members to postpone and/or suspend meetings including AGMs until such a time that the Ministry advises otherwise. Face to face meetings of any sort are strongly discouraged and instead, these bodies are encouraged to make use of technological means to discuss issues (e.g. WhatsApp).
  1. The country was set to host the African Union Regional Sports Awards on May 24, 2020. The Ministry has since written to the organisation informing them of the new measures put in place by Government to fight COVID-19 including limiting gatherings and the ban on all non-essential travel in and out of Eswatini.
  1. Sporting and arts bodies that have offices are strongly encouraged to allow as many employees as possible to work from home until the situation subsides. The Ministry’s Public Enterprises namely: (ESRC), Eswatini National Council of Arts and Culture (ENCAC), Eswatini National Youth Council (ENYC) and Youth Enterprise Revolving Fund (YERF) have started limiting the number of staff physically going to their respective offices.
  1. Similarly, as per a directive issued by the Ministry of Public Service, starting from next week, the Ministry will have half of staff working from home on a rotational basis.

On Arts & Culture:

  1. The ministry recognises & appreciates the collective efforts and endeavors from managers, artists, stables, culture institutions and practitioners in supporting Government’s call to suspend all gatherings and activities that will compromise the health of our people. The ministry stands together with all stakeholders in recognising the extreme losses incurred by the sector as a result of these measures.
  2. The ministry advises our artists, festival and events organisers, affiliates and associations to utilise this time through diversification of their art conception, designing, consumption and distribution to stay within the armpit of the global creative space and enhance accessibility and sales.
  3. Artists are discouraged from hosting and/or attending any shows with a potential to draw crowds.
  1. The Ministry has already started engaging the relevant sporting and arts and culture bodies for collaborations with sports stars, officials and artists who will also help in the spreading of correct COVID-19 messaging.

On Youth:

  1. Young people are encouraged to avoid physically travelling to the Youth Enterprise Revolving Fund offices for enquiries. Instead, the youth is encouraged to make use of technological means including calling: 2404 8369 and/or contacting the office via social media (‘Youth Enterprise Revolving Fund- YERF’ on Facebook). The Fund has already suspended trainings, site visits and physical mentorship. The latter will now be conducted through technological means.
  1. With over 70% of the country’s population under the age of 35, the Ministry recognises the huge role young people have to play in the fight against COVID-19 in Eswatini. We therefore appeal to all young people to stay at home and limit any sort of travelling. The Ministry further encourages young people to be responsible citizens in the sharing and disseminating of correct and truthful information particularly via social media platforms.
  1. In conclusion, the Ministry calls upon all EmaSwati to ensure that they wash their hands with soap and running water frequently, cover mouths and noses when coughing and sneezing, stay at home and follow every other advice coming from Government and the WHO.

Hon. Harries Bulunga                                              27 March 2020

Hon. Minister of Sports, Culture & Youth Affairs


Clean Eswatini Campaign at Buhleni

National Youth Policy launch  September 

Shukuma Eswatini at Mahlangatsha




Minister Bulunga honours excelling Special Olympics team


06 February 2020

Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Harries Bulunga has awarded the triumphant Eswatini Special Olympics team with a total of E29 000 in recognition of their outstanding performances at the 1st Pan African Games in Egypt.

Bulunga made the announcement at a ceremony to officially welcome the team home held at the Royal Villas yesterday afternoon. The team collected a total of ten medals in Egypt, six of them gold, one silver and three bronze.

Making his remarks, Bulunga said the reward was meant to encourage the athletes.

“We wish to state here today just how proud we are of you. The significance of this victory goes beyond yourselves, our Ministry and even Government. This is a victory for the entire nation- a timely reminder of what we are capable of as EmaSwati. I wish to reiterate Government’s commitment to the Special Olympics movement. We further appeal to the entire nation to support these young stars of ours. They have proven time and time again that they are worth our attention and support, let us give it to them. It now gives me great pleasure to announce that, despite the prevailing economic challenges, our athletes will receive a total of E29 000 from Government in recognition of their brilliant performances in Egypt,” he said.

The Minister further lauded the team for showing consistency in their performances. At last year’s Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, the team collected 3 medals.

Bulunga then expressed gratitude to Prince Bandzile’s Peaceful Warrior Foundation for making the team’s travel to Egypt possible.

“I should start first by thanking Umnftwanenkhosi through whose efforts and dedication to this cause, the team was able to make it to the 1st Pan African Games in Egypt. Nkhosi, we feel hugely indebted to you and the Peaceful Warrior Foundation for such a gesture. On behalf of Government, I take this moment Nkhosi, to extend our deepest gratitude to you for the huge role you have played in this triumph which has put our country’s name on the world map,” he said.

The team’s medal breakdown:

Lindelwa Mngometulu: 2 Gold medals (100m and long jump)

Sandiswa Shabangu: 2 Gold medals (100m and long jump)

Sambulo Xaba: 2 Gold medals (100m and 200m)

Fisokuhle Maseko: 1 Silver (100m) and 1 Bronze (long jump)

Neliswa Shabangu: 1 Bronze (25m)

Mphilo Thwala: 1 Bronze (50m)

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