National Council of Sports (NCS) came out and addressed a couple of issues surrounding the Uganda Netball Federation.
The briefing held on Wednesday at Copper Chimney in Lugogo, was addressed by NCS officials – Ambrose Tashobya (Chairman) and Bernard Ogwel (General Secretary) who were flanked by Cecilia Anyakoit (Board Member) and David Katende (Vice General Secretary).
The briefing came in the wake of raining allegations made by the President of Uganda Netball Federation Sarah Babirye Kityo.
The vocal Babirye accused NCS of being the catalyst of wrangles in her Federation in recent times.
Babirye also stated, via an interview with NBS Sport, that Ogwel asked her to account for Sh425m but she had instead received Sh186m for the Pent Series and Africa Netball Championship in November 2021 in Namibia.
Babirye earlier told Parliamentary Adhoc Committee that Ogwel has asked for Federations kickbacks from Government interventions!
Also Read: Netball Federation Calls Off League
Ogwel Clears Air
In his defence, Ogwel distanced himself from allegations made by Babirye.
On asking kickbacks from Federations, Ogwel commented: “Government operates what we call the Integrated Financial Management System where all funds, once approved, are wired to respective accounts of the Federations. I want pose a bit and ask, if they do not want to justify their failure to account for Government money and want to use short hand to intimidate the General Secretary, why did you withdraw money and then say Ogwel wants his money? I am not a Soldier I don’t have a gun to order you to bring the money to me.
“But what does the law say? It’s criminal for that person who asked and the one who gives. NCS doesn’t tolerate a commercial bank account neither do we give cash to Federations. The era of cash ended many years ago, we are operating a Cashless NCS. You see your money on your account. This is an issue of emphasis by Government on improving Governance.
“NCS Secretariat headed by me is a fully accountable and professional statutory agency of Government.”
Ogwel said that he has already forwarded the case to Criminal Investigation Department.
“The matter has already been referred to CID for investigations. She (Babirye) will provide this evidence in court. I have registered that matter at a personal level and a case of defamation has been opened. It’s a matter of falsehood, malicious in nature and intended to defame and bring down my personality.”
He lightly added: “I have taken this matter to the highest level (Court) and possibly I will get my retirement money from them.”
On the Sh425m saga, Ogwel said that UNF did not provide accurate, realistic and clear budget for the trip.
“A review of the budget of Sh425m submitted by UNF for support of She Cranes Pent Series and Africa Netball Championship trip Windhoek (October 29 to November 16 2021) revealed that out of Sh424m, NCS was able to support UNF with Sh186m. Accountability submitted further revealed that UNF did not receive any other funding in relation to the event however the event took place.
“This shows inappropriate and inaccurate budgeting from UNF management.”
He emphasized that Netball should streamline the budgeting process to ensure that funds are always allocated to activities in accordance with the priorities.
A review of that trip for the Pent Series and African Netball Championship found:
•That UNF didn’t account for Sh161
•That UNF didn’t acknowledge receipt of the Air Tickets (worth Sh127m) supported by NCS
•That UNF didn’t provide a detailed statistical performance report of the She Cranes
•That UNF didn’t reduct and remit withholding tax to URA on purchasing Team kits worth Sh10m
•That UNF doesn’t have enough internal staff capacity to absorb and account for funds from Government.
‘My Advice To Babirye Fell On Deaf Ears’
Netball Federation has been engulfed with many struggles, mostly arising from financial constraints.
Babirye, elected into power in June 2021, later amended the Constitution and also suspended members – Ms.Mande Aminah (General Secretary), Muhumuza Richard (Vice President Technical) and Yahaya Ssengabi (Publicity) in January 2022.
The Federation Offices were closed last year in November due to unpaid rent arising to Sh12m.
And just last week, the Federation suspended the League a week into the second round due to finances per close sources.
NCS Chairperson Ambrose Tashobya commented: “When I came into office, I found deep investigations about what’s been happening. It was about accountability and governance. I interested myself to be part of these proceedings with our technical committee.
“Through many meetings and Interactions with Netball Federation with President, Adminitrators and players, we found a number of issues that needed to be resolved.”
It’s strong to note that there was an interim court order in February last year that prohibited the Federation from carrying out their activities, but UNF went on to hold the Annual General Meeting (AGM) where they amended the constitution and voted to suspend the members.
“The biggest issue we found with the way Netball manages it’s affair was when they chose to do business as usual when there was a court order that stopped them going on. They changed the constitution and Executive,” Tashobya added.
“I sat with Babirye and advised her, I showed her mistakes and told her she has a chance to clean the house. But sometimes when you are talking to people they don’t want to listen and hear the truth. We have had over 12 meetings with Netball Federation Leadership, Players, Trustees and fraternity.”
“We have been very lenient and considerate with Netball because it’s one of the priority sport so we are obliged as Government to ensure that the Sport is helped.
“And Netball is dominated by Women and we encourage for women involvement in Sports.”
Tahobya said that they recognise the Uganda Netball Federation Executive elected into Power on June 25 2021.
Meaning that all activities carried out during the court order period including suspension of members and amending of constitution are null and void.