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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 April, 2003, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Zambia disaster plans in disarray
Kennedy Gondwe
BBC Sport in Lusaka

Families have held a big anniversary at the players' graves each year.
The victims' graves are falling into disrepair
28 April marks the 10th anniversary of the air disaster in which Zambia lost nearly its entire national team.

Thirty people died, 18 of them players in the national team, when the Zambian Air Force plane they were in crashed into the sea off Gabon.

Despite the anniversary being a special one, it appears nothing special is being planned.

The Zambian FA has delegated the organisation of events to the Chipolopolo Soccer Fans Association.

The response we are getting from business is pathetic
Willie Malasha
But the CSFA's plans are hopelessly under-funded, and they have raised only $320 of the $15,000 that is needed.

CSFA general secretary Willie Malasha said the money would be used to restore the graves of the dead players at Hero's Acre, which need painting and are missing letters from their tombstones.

"I must say the response we are getting from business to help us meet the budget is very, very bad. It's pathetic," Malasha said.

"But what is more surprising is that the clubs where the deceased players used to play are so unconcerned. It's like they only loved them when they were alive," he added.

The Zambian government has disassociated itself from the anniversary, despite the players being in the service of the country and being in a Zambian Air Force plane.

Sport's minister Rev. Gladys Nyirongo said the anniversary is not the government's responsibility.

She explained that the state has only one day to recognise fallen heroes, Heroes and Unity Day, which falls in July.

But she said her ministry, "might be in attendance."

The minister's statement has attracted criticism from the public and families of those whose were killed.

Peggy Mwape, the wife of FAZ president Michael Mwape who died in the crash, has said Rev. Nyirongo should not attend any event.

Joyce Chabala, the wife of goalkeeper Efford Chabala, called the minister's comments "worrying" and also said she would not be welcome.

The years since the crash have been marked by rows over compensation - much of which has still not been paid - and the repeated stalling by the government over releasing the report into the accident, which has not been published to this day.

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