First Lady Janet Museveni ordered Uganda Netball Federation President Sarah Babirye Kityo to step aside for three months.
This is after the meeting on Friday (Idd) at State House Nakasero that was held to put an end to ongoing Netball sagas including the recent infamous exchanges with the National Council of Sports.
This was chaired by Janet Museveni who also doubles as the Minister of Education and Sports, with Government Chief Whip Hamson Obua and State Minister of Sports Peter Ogwang present.
Babirye and Netball Federation Executive, Dr Bernard Patrick Ogwel (NCS General Secretary) and NCS officials, Commissioner For Education and Sports, IGG, Attorney General, She Cranes players (and the National Men’s team – The Rock), were part of thee meeting.
The Federation was strongly accused of failed to account for Government funds, mistreating the players during the 2021 Pent Series and strong accusations of sexual harassments of players!
And after almost everyone made his/her remarks and contributions, it was resolved that Babirye steps aside for a period of three months to allow smooth running of investigations.
The Sexual Harassment!
One of the players said that during the tournament in Namibia, Babirye confronted her and accused her of being in love with her husband Dan Ntale who is also the head of Marketing at Uganda Netball Federation.
A player claimed that when they came back, later on December 24, was called to the Federation offices to pick her Christmas package just like other She Cranes players.
But she said that instead, they made attempts to rape her while in the office, and her clothes were ripped into pieces.
She made more claims saying that more girls have been forced into sexual advances in promises of slots to the National Team.
This, they said that is in the Coaching staff and some members of the executive mainly Marketing.
One of the members who attended the meeting said that the First Lady got annoyed and decided to stop the She Cranes from participating in Netball World Cup, before the State Minister, Government Chief Whip and Commissioner pleaded.
Note – For privacy purposes, this website has decided to remove the names of the said players.
The Players Welfare
The Men (players) said that some returned from the South African trip when they had already lost their jobs, but the most worrying thing is that when they later met NCS and Government officials, they found out that a report submitted by Netball Federation indicated that they had signed for allowances, which wasn’t the case.
The Girls said that during the Namibia trip, for the Pent Series, they were initially in a good hotel but they were shifted to a poor apartment where they had to cook for themselves. And mentioned then assistant coach Harriet Kabuye and Shaffie Nalwanja turning into Cooks. And they complained about poor conditions and state of the the hotel.
Babirye said that the players have turned political, meaning that all what they said was doctored into them.
But Hon Ogwang refuted claims, stating that he directly coordinates with the She Cranes Captain Peace Proscovia and other foreign-based players via Zoom and he is the one who wrote the letter summoning the players who went to Namibia.
Ogwang went on to confirm to the First Lady that the players in the meeting were some of those who were part of the trip.
It’s said that the players included Ruth Meeme, Lilian Ajio among others.
The auditor general, during his remarks said that NCS got around Sh270m which they gave to Boxing (Sh30m) and Netball in 2021.
But Netball failed to account for the funds. The Auditor General said that Government money must be accounted for within 60 days, which Netball Federation failed. It’s said that the Auditor General asked NCS to find ways in which they must recover that money so that it goes back to the Government Treasury because it means that the money wasn’t used. That according to the law, if the money was used and those who used it failed to account for it, it’s a must for them to refund it.
Ogwang also blamed NCS for failing to demand for the unaccountable funds for such a long period of time!
It’s strong to note that Babirye, this year accused Ogwel of asking for kickbacks of Sh40m out of the Sh100m given to Netball for the trip to South Africa for the Male Netball Championship and Pent Series for She Cranes in Namibia.
Initially, Babirye and her executive agreed not to pay the kickback, but she said that her then vice president, Richard Muhumuza, and general secretary, Amina Mande went ahead to pay Ogwel Sh30m which was meant for players allowances.
And during Friday’s meeting, the IGG went on to re-echo the findings in the report that found NCS, Muhumuza and Hajjat Nambusi guilty.
But the members in the meeting disregarded the report, saying that it was carried out with a small sample space.
During the meeting, it was said that a couple of documents sent to NCS by Netball Federation including signatures of players were forged!
Final Nail in Babirye’s Coffin?
The meeting started with the First Lady making her remarks where she described the role Netball has played in marketing the Country.
Ogwang followed with his report and introduced the groups present to the First Lady and why each was summoned for the meeting.
Ogwang also punched holes in the Report issued out by IGG and CID.
Babirye was initially adamant to step aside, and went on to highlight a couple of achievements that Netball has garnered during her reign including the She Cranes success at Fast Five tournament.
But the meeting insisted that well as achievements are clear and visible, stepping aside for now is the best solution at hand. And she will return if proven not guilty.
Babirye was later made to pronounce that she had stepped aside from her role as President for the next three months, which she did.
Initially, she wanted to be out for two months, but the Auditor General insisted on three months so that they can come out with a better report.
Does this exonerate Ogwel and NCS?
The developments are the latest installments in the NCS and Federations saga.
Babirye and Netball have been at the forefront of this battle, with Boxing, Table Tennis and FUFA acting as supporting casts.
Babirye went bare knuckles with Dr Patrick Bernard Ogwel when he accused the NCS General Secretary of asking for kick-backs, among other accusations, mainly stemming from the She Cranes trip to Namibia from Pent Series and Africa Netball Championships back in 2021.
She also talked about NCS asking the Federation to budget for funds they didn’t receive.
Babirye claimed that NCS told the Netball Federation to account for sh425m yet they received sh186m, and the Auditor General, during the meeting, said that investigations on the said variations will be held.
And whether the other vocal Federations will cease fire on Ogwel, after what happened on Babirye, remains to be seen.
What Next For Uganda Netball?
During this period, Babirye’s Vice President Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso will be the acting President as per the Constitution.
It’s unfortunate, whichever way you may see it, that this saga is happening in a World Cup year.
To be specific, it’s less than a week since the She Cranes started their non residential camp for the Netball World Cup that gets underway in July in South Africa.
And it remains to be known whether the team will get timely funding for the event.
The Netball Offices have since remained closed, and the latest saga has thrown a dark crowd on some activities including the National Netball Super League.
The First Lady asked NCS to find ways to issue out funds for the She Cranes.
But when the Federation offices talked about the debts they have, Minister Ogwang said that they never permitted them to go out and borrow money.