The National Council of Sports (NCS) has officially revoked the Certificate of Recognition of the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF). The decision was announced in a press statement issued on October 25, 2023. According to the NCS, the decision follows the persistent governance and leadership challenges within the UNF, as well as their failure to adhere to Ugandan laws and their own statutes.
“We would like the sports fraternity and the General public to know that these governance issues and leadership challenges were brought to the attention of the National Council of Sports and the Ministry of Education and Sports two and a half years ago for an amicable resolution, but all the official processes followed that have time have failed,” reads the press statement.
The challenges cited by the NCS include unresolved governance and leadership issues, failure to follow constitutional provisions for executive committee elections, incorrect procedures to amend the constitution, and lack of transparency regarding funding sources. However, the NCS emphasized that the UNF has the opportunity to reapply for recognition once these issues have been addressed.
This development comes amid a long-standing dispute between Sarah Babirye Kityo, the UNF President, and Dr. Patrick Ogwel, the NCS General Secretary. Kityo had sued the NCS, challenging alleged interference in UNF activities and accusations of misappropriation of funds orchestrated by Ogwel.
Through her lawyers Luzige, Lubega Kavuma, and Co. Advocates, Kityo questioned Ogwel’s continued raising of false accountability claims and misappropriation of the UNF funds, which claims she alleges have been found by the Inspector General of Government to be orchestrated by Ogwel. On Tuesday, Kityo said that they decided to go legal to defend what she described as the truth and also to inform Brigadier Byekwaso that she should not be masquerading as the Federation President.
The lawsuit was in response to an October 19th, 2023 letter that NCS wrote to Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso, the Acting Netball Federation President summoning her for a meeting that took place on October 24th, 2023 that was supposed to discuss NCS’s intentions to withdraw the certificate of recognition from Netball Federation.
In that letter, NCS said that the Federation had violated many laws including an order that sent Kityo on a sabbatical to allow investigations into her alleged mistreatment of players during the 2021 Pent Series, serious accusations of player harassment, misappropriation of government funds, among others, but Kityo returned to office before investigations were concluded.
While Brigadier Byekwaso attended the meeting at the NCS’s premises, the proceedings were not open to journalists, and no official representatives from either the NCS or the Netball Federation spoke to the media about the meeting’s outcomes.
But, about this very meeting, Kityo said that seven out of the eleven executive committee members seven executive committee members decided not to attend the meeting physically and opted to send a representative to the meeting but were denied entry.
It should also be recalled that, earlier this year, Minister of Sports and Education, Janet Museveni in a letter dated 4th October 2023 addressed to the Chairperson of the National Council of Sports ordered Kityo, to remain out of her office briefly after Kityo had returned from a three months’ suspension.
The purpose of this decision was to allow the Auditor General and other government bodies to investigate allegations of mistreatment of players during the 2021 Pent Series, serious accusations of player harassment, misappropriation of government funds, and the failure to account for these funds.
The letter which also maintained Byekwaso as the acting President also gave the National Council of Sports an order to immediately withdraw the certificate of recognition from the Uganda Netball Federation, should it fail to meet the requirements of a National sports federation.