By Jjagwe Robert
There are some people who have condemned some of us for being too aggressive plus what they term as unreasonable pressure over our persistent demand for Fair and Acceptable funding for all the national sports federations in Uganda. I believe they are mistaking our above demands for “equal distribution” which is of course a totally different issue. There are those telling us to go out and look for money from donors or sponsors. This alone has two errors. First there are very few donors who are going to give a federation sponsorship funds when it is not active enough already. And of course no donor is really interested in funding things like the federation website, office rent, monthly staff salaries, etc.
Secondly telling politically elected or appointed sports leaders to do work meant for a professional secretariat is the same as telling our politically appointed state minister for sports, Hon. Hamson Obua to sit at the National Council of Sports (NCS) and do the work done by its professionally hired secretariat. Or to disband the Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) salaried secretariat and the politically elected UOC leaders sit in the secretariat offices and do all that work without monthly pay. And yes, you got that right, Sports leaders in Uganda do not earn any monthly salary and neither any monthly allowances. They are expected to work as absolute volunteers, a practice which is as outdated as the bell bottom trousers.
Other people like to tell us that we should be lobbying for more funding instead of looking at that which has already been given / allocated by parliament. I have told such people several times that this would have been okay but we have clear evidence that even as the sports funding allocation increased over the years, the allocation to our non-priority sports federations never increased.
But, those people have kept on bringing up their argument that we just go lobby for more funding then we can also get funded. They are even not aware that we are running National Sports Federations with zero funding for key areas like offices, secretariats, calendar activities, competitions, national teams, etc. So today I decided to pull out part of the evidence that we have, which, for your information, was supposed to be filed in court to force the fair and acceptable distribution of sports funds. It was only the emergence of Dr. Ogwel Bernard as General Secretary of NCS and his preference for amicable dialogue, that stopped that case.
Dr. Ogwel’s predecessors preferred hostile and forceful engagement and some of us had reached a point where we were very glad to give it to them on a silver plate. But, I can assure you that my team was going to handle this matter and finish it once and for all by using court orders to bring an end to the bad manners of unfair allocation of sports funds. And already we had proven in the High Court (May 2016) that we can be thorough and lethal when we set out to exterminate such evil.
Today, I want you to see for yourselves in the images I have shared. Those images show the NCS distributions of sports funds from 2016 to 2019. You will see in the images that whereas the total sports budget shot up from 2.3 billion in 2016 to 26.6 billion Ugx last year 2019, the non-priority sports remained in their misery with either Zero or Peanut funding. Here below are the total budget figures:
2016 – 2017 Sports Budget was 2.3 billion
2017 – 2018 Sports Budget was 13.3 billion
2018 – 2019 Sports Budget was 26.6 billion
Oh and please ignore the 53.8 million given to Table Tennis in the period of 2016 – 2017 plus the 39 million of 2017 – 2018. We never touched even one shilling of those funds. This was just part of the unbelievable and shameless acts by those at the helm of NCS before Dr. Ogwel became General Secretary. And yes it helped shape our resolve to crash their evil and route it out of the NCS.
So please just see for yourself in the shared images how the budget has kept going up but some federations (the non-priorities) have remained starved. Just know that some of us can be extremely resourceful and determined when we decide to get a job done. And this is just part of the evidence and exhibits that were supposed to go to court to file a suit to ensure that sports funds are shared out fairly and acceptably. And I can tell you now that as sure as night follows day, court was going to freeze the NCS bank account until a fair and acceptable funds distribution policy was put in place. We had and still have enough evidence to convince court that this matter needs urgent resolution.
All those who like to fault us wrongly on this matter, just know that this is a serious issue. We are suffering with our federations having to fund an entire federation calendar of activities from our personal pockets for the benefit of the whole country. And of course this is totally unacceptable unless probably a law is passed that all Ugandan sports leaders must be multi billionaires and also willing to gazette part of their wealth for development of the Federation. Without this no personal funds can run a federation appreciably at a nationwide scale.
When the sports budget goes up and other already well-funded federations (priority sports) are instead added more funding, then these are the questions that arise:
1. Who makes these decisions to punish some federations by leaving them unfunded?
2. Where are the minutes of the meetings that make such decisions?
3. What do some people base on to add some federations funding as the budget goes up but others are left starved?
4. If the funds used are tax payers’ money that we all pay equally in this country, then isn’t it unacceptable to use those funds so unfairly like this?
5. The Auditor General himself guided NCS in June 2018 to ensure that this unfairness stops and a proper policy is put in place to iron it out. NCS committed to have this done. So how come in less than 50 days we shall be entering 2021 and that policy is not yet done?
I can tell you now that there is real suffering in our non-priority sports federations and it is leading to the wastage of the lives, dreams and careers of the athletes and coaches in those federations. It is our duty as their leaders and indeed as patriotic Ugandans to stop this kind of thing. Just imagine all federations are now totally iced as FUFA receives billions to go train its national team in Dubai for 6 days to play South Sudan here in our own country. Not only is this somewhat equivalent to using a gun to kill a mosquito but it is also in total contravention of the recent guidance advising all Ugandans to avoid taking Ugandan currency unnecessarily outside the country.
The above could explain why not even one leader of the other 50 sports federations came out to congratulate FUFA on their 1 – 0 victory against South Sudan. Yes we have a forum where we are all present but when the 1 – 0 result was posted on that forum on Thursday, no single Federation came out to say congratulations FUFA. As of today, Saturday, only 1 person on that forum (of over 100 people including NCS staff) has come out to congratulate FUFA. This should be by far the clearest indicator of just how much damage and discontent this unfairness in the funds distribution is going to unleash in our sports sector.
It appears that federations are now waking up to the fact that their support and cheering for FUFA is the reason there now exists powerful forces that can make FUFA scoop most of the available sports funding leaving other federations in limbo. But surprisingly even on all other forums, the congratulations to FUFA have been generally muted and nowhere near the praises that flew out towards our runners Cheptegei and Kiplimo of Athletics. If I were FUFA I would immediately initiate the discussion to harmonise this growing resentment over unfair funding. Already I have suggested to FUFA that it can let go of half of its annual allocation of 10 billion Ugx so that all the other 50 federations can each get a minimum survival allocation of just 100 million Ugx. FUFA would still retain a whopping 5 billion Ugx.
For sure this is the new battle of our sporting life time. Initially it was bad governance and outright bad manners by some people at the NCS. All that is no more. Now the unfair distribution of sports funds is the new problem that NCS has to contend with. By the time NCS’s own child, FUFA, is having a bigger Annual Budget than NCS itself and this child can as well pull strings beyond NCS’s control, then you just know that the time to deal with this issue is correctly upon us all. Key here is the word Fairness not Equality. No one is asking for Equality but just Fairness. We surely cannot just look on as all other athletes and coaches rot away in the other Federations. There really must be a minimum level at which all national federations can survive and breathe.
The Writer is the President of the Uganda Table Tennis Association (UTTA)
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