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Uganda Netball Federation Certificate of Recognition withdrawal over Leadership crisis

Sports

Uganda Netball Federation Certificate of Recognition withdrawal over Leadership crisis

The National Council of Sports (NCS) has officially revoked the Certificate of Recognition held by the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF). This decision was made public through a press statement released on October 25, 2023.

The NCS cited persistent governance and leadership challenges within the UNF, as well as their failure to comply with Ugandan laws and their own statutes as the primary reasons for this revocation.

The press statement emphasized that the NCS had been made aware of these governance issues and leadership challenges two and a half years ago, and multiple efforts to resolve these issues through established procedures had been unsuccessful.

The issues cited by the NCS included unresolved governance and leadership problems, failure to adhere to constitutional provisions for executive committee elections, improper procedures for amending the constitution, and a lack of transparency regarding funding sources. Nevertheless, the NCS stressed that the UNF has the opportunity to regain recognition once these issues have been appropriately addressed.

This development arises against the backdrop of a prolonged dispute between Sarah Babirye Kityo, the President of the UNF, and Dr. Patrick Ogwel, the NCS General Secretary. Kityo had initiated a legal challenge against the NCS, asserting interference in UNF activities and allegations of fund mismanagement orchestrated by Ogwel.

Through her legal representatives at Luzige, Lubega Kavuma, and Co. Advocates, Kityo raised concerns about Ogwel’s continued presentation of false accountability claims and misappropriation of UNF funds, which she claims have been disproven by the Inspector General of Government to be manipulated by Ogwel. On Tuesday, Kityo stated that they had resorted to legal action to uphold what she believed to be the truth and to clarify that Brigadier Byekwaso should not be acting as the Federation President.

The lawsuit was prompted by a letter dated October 19th, 2023, from the NCS to Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso, the Acting Netball Federation President, requesting her attendance at a meeting held on October 24th, 2023. The meeting was convened to discuss the NCS’s intention to withdraw the certificate of recognition from the Netball Federation.

In the aforementioned letter, the NCS alleged that the Federation had violated several laws, including an order that had temporarily placed Kityo on sabbatical to facilitate investigations into her alleged mistreatment of players during the 2021 Pent Series, serious allegations of player harassment, and misappropriation of government funds, among other issues. However, Kityo had returned to her position before the investigations were concluded.

Brigadier Byekwaso attended the meeting at the NCS premises, although it was not open to the media, and no official representatives from either the NCS or the Netball Federation made statements to the media regarding the meeting’s outcomes.

Kityo mentioned that seven out of the eleven executive committee members decided not to attend the meeting in person, instead opting to send a representative. Regrettably, they were denied entry.

It’s important to note that earlier this year, Janet Museveni, the Minister of Sports and Education, issued a letter dated October 4th, 2023, addressed to the Chairperson of the National Council of Sports. In the letter, she ordered Kityo to temporarily vacate her office following her return from a three-month suspension.

This decision aimed to allow the Auditor General and other government bodies to investigate allegations of player mistreatment during the 2021 Pent Series, severe player harassment accusations, misappropriation of government funds, and the failure to account for these funds. The letter also confirmed Byekwaso’s role as the acting President and instructed the National Council of Sports to promptly withdraw the certificate of recognition from the Uganda Netball Federation if it failed to meet the requirements of a National sports federation.

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