THE jigsaw puzzle on the missing 5m/- computerized scoring machine belonging to the Boxing Federation of Tanzania (BFT) remains unsolved.
THISDAY reported early this year that the scoring machine was among the federation's sports materials worth millions of shillings that went missing soon after the previous leadership under president Shaaban Mintanga resigned two years ago.
The other equipment that disappeared along with the scoring machine include punching bags, gloves, head guards and several other items, some of which have already been recovered
However, mystery still surrounds the whereabouts of the machine with some quarters claiming that it is confiscated by Mintanga, who is remanded at Keko Prison in Dar es Salaam, but efforts to retrieve it have proved futile so far.
The all-import computer, provided to BFT by the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) about three years ago, is used to score points for boxers during competitions.
Its importance was emphasized last week by the eight Tanzanian boxers, who participated in the just ended Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, where they performed miserably and were all eliminated in the preliminary rounds.
The boxers -- Sunday Elias, Selemani Kidunda, Leonard Machichi, Nasser Mafuru, Haruna Mhando, Joseph Mwaisalenge, Hashim Petro and Revocatus Shomari -- blamed their lackadaisical show on their ignorance of the computerized scoring system used at the Games.
Apart from boxing, Tanzania also competed in athletics, table tennis, swimming and disabled sport but came back empty-handed.
The boxers said the absence of the machine caused them a lot of inconveniences both during training and at the Games.
“We relied on the outdated system whereby judges score points for us and as such we we're not used to the modern technology – computerized scoring machines – being applied internationally,” they complained bitterly last week when giving reasons behind their mediocre performance. .
“We're told that BFT has one machine but, much to out chagrin, we haven't seen it and we had to do without it during training. That let us down,” they added.
The BFT executive committee under president Joan Minja was expected to meet at the weekend to renew efforts to retrieve the missing machine.
BFT secretary general Mashaga Makore admitted that they have failed to trace the machine's whereabouts but added that the search was still on.
“We have done all we could to recover the machine to no avail. We haven't lost hope yet and we're now looking for options that will lead to its recovery,” he said.
Some of the options being considered by BFT include seeking the intervention of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Sports as well as the police.
Mashaga said BFT officials have visited Mintanga at Keko Prison at least thrice to inquire about the machine but so far there is not hint on its whereabouts.
“He (Mintanga) is not ready to tell us exactly where the machine is so that we can collect it. We're getting very little assistance from him,” he lamented.
Mashaga swore that BFT will not rest until the scoring machine is recovered.
“This is a very import instrument and, therefore, we can't sit idle and let it disappear in thin air,” he said.
The machine disappeared after Mintanga, boxers Petro Mtagwa and Emmilian Patrick and coach Nassoro Michael were implicated in a drugs smuggling scandal.
The quartet are alleged to have trafficked 4.8 kilogrammes of narcotic drugs worth 120m/- to Mauritius in June, 2008, just before the African Championships held in the Indian Ocean island.
Following the scandal, the entire BFT executive committee resigned and the body was expelled from AIBA on November 17, 2008, thus closing the door to Tanzania's participation in international competitions.
AIBA , however, restored BFT's membership early this year.