Last week, the World Netball body (INF) dissolved the embattled Uganda Netball Federation (UNF) executive and replaced it with a normalisation committee.
INF came up with names of four people who have been given the mandate to run the game until a new UNF executive committee is put in place. The committee chairperson is Uganda Swimming Federation boss Moses Mwase, and members include She Cranes skipper Peace Proscovia, National Council of Sports (NCS) board member Cecilia Anyacoit, and Leticia Namutebi, a member of the Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC).
The naming of the normalisation committee came just a few hours after the High court had just dismissed a temporary injunction filed by suspended UNF boss Sarah Babirye Kityo. Babirye had wanted court to restrain NCS from asking the world netball body to put in place a normalisation committee.
In dismissing the case, judge Simon Kintu Zirintusa noted that Babirye’s UNF executive is a nonexistent legal entity following its recent disbandment by NCS.
“Therefore, the first applicant filled out an application on behalf of a non-existent entity in law; I, accordingly, find the preliminary points of law proved; the application for temporary injunction is, accordingly, dismissed,” he observed as he asked Babirye to pay the costs of the application to NCS.
In October last month, NCS withdrew its certificate of recognition from the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF), citing leadership wrangles. After the withdrawal of the certificate, Babirye sued the government for alleged interference in UNF activities. The case has yet to be heard in court.
I will not delve into the current netball wrangles due to a case in court. However, I take note that the wrangles in the netball body have had a draining effect on the game through the years.
In fact, they can be traced to 1995 when President Museveni gave Shs 42 million to the Uganda Netball Association (UNA), headed by Lydia Nabukenya Bukenya, ahead of the 1996 Cecafa Netball Championship in Kampala.
Though UNA used part of the money to construct the two netball courts at Nakivubo stadium, some of the netball officials faulted Bukenya for failing to account for the money.
The disgruntled officials petitioned the NCS, then headed by Geoffrey Kizito, but the council cleared Bukenya. Her critics took the feud to the 1998 UNA elections, where Bukenya was defeated by Rebecca Kavulu.
In 2000, Bukenya bounced back and defeated Kavulu. She ran the show until 2008 when she declined to run for the fifth term, paving the way for the election of Suzan Anek, who defeated Rosette Namuli Kaala for the top netball job.
WHAT NEXT FOR UNF?
To understand the current situation clearly, one needs to look back to 2005 and see how government intervention saved football. In February, 2005, the then Education minister Namirembe Bitamazire dissolved the Fufa executive committee headed by the late Denis Obua for what she termed as “insubordination and corruption.”
Thereafter, world football body, Fifa, worked hand in hand with government to set up a normalisation committee headed by Dr James Sekajugo. The Sekajugo committee organized the December, 2005 Fufa polls, which ushered Dr Lawrence Mulindwa into office.
From the way I look at the netball situation, NCS and INF seem to have agreed that the UNF leadership wrangles are irreconcilable and the body’s leadership has to be changed. However, I am concerned that INF did not indicate a road map for fresh elections at UNF. It is something the normalisation committee needs to start with.