KAMPALA – The minister of state for sports, Peter Ogwang and the General Secretary, National Council of Sports –NCS, Dr Bernard Patrick Ogwel publicly clashed during a meeting in the parliamentary ad hoc committee, probing financial management of the government’s statutory body.
The duo’s sharp difference resulted from Ogwel’s revelation that Team Uganda at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham had experienced innumerable psychological torture, singling out how the squad had left the country without subsistence allowances.
’s apparel for the competition had been acquired through personal sacrifices after government delayed in releasing the required funds.
“..Some of the teams did not have uniforms. We had to look for solutions – internally. Chairman, this is painful but we are now in a position talk about it. We were forced to fundraise in order to acquire funds to support the team….actually some of us had to spend our own money towards the team….,” he revealed secrets, as the Minister swiftly took up to the microphone to dispel Ogwel’s submission.
“…actually some of them might have left when they had not got money, but money came – because I want to go on record – fortunately all our participation, even now, if we Google….if you go on Youtube, you will find team Uganda had uniforms,” said a seemingly angry Ogwang, who admittedly noted that the delay on the side government to release funds had led to the brief mishap in availing of resources to the team.
However, Ogwel was not yet done. He told to the committee that amount quoted in the on-going rehabilitation of Mandela National Stadium – Namboole was too high –compared to the assessment of Ugx438b submitted to NCS.
The Minister out rightly dismissed Ogwel’s submission, warning him to stay in his ‘lane,’ – “I would advise my technical person to remain within NCS because Namboole is not under his management. I am aware the cost renovating Namboole is Ugx291b – that’s what I found in the ministry – not Ugx400b.”
The select committee of Uganda’s Parliament directed NCS officials to avail proper accountability for funds disbursed to national federations for major international games from government this year.
The seven-member committee constituted by the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among started its investigations into activities of NCS on Tuesday.
The decision to form the committee followed a heated debate in, which MPs reported inconsistencies in appropriated figures by Parliament and releases to the sports sub-sector. The MPs also questioned the inconsistencies in money given to different sports federations without clear criteria.
Dr Bernard Patrick Ogwel – the NCS General Secretary told the committee that Ugx47.81b had been allocated to Council for the current financial year. Out of which, Ugx18.03b was expected in first quarter with another Ugx18.48 b expected in the second.
However, Ogwel said that the Ministry of Finance released partial funding of Ugx7.8b in the first quarter of the year, with Ugx7.15b earmarked for major outings like the Olympic and Paralympic games, Commonwealth Games, All Africa Games, East Africa Community Games, and Islamic Solidarity Games.
The balance amounting to Ugx402.2 m was earmarked for Contract Staff salaries; Ugx71.5 m for gratuity expenses, and Ugx173.6 m for Non-Wage expenditures.
Ogwel explained that an additional Ugx1.5b was released on September 20, 2022, five days to the end of the quarter to cover non-wage recurrent expenses, leaving them with a deficit of Ugx8.66 b.
The committee also learnt that for the second quarter, the Ministry released an initial Ugx4.14 b and an additional Ugx4.1b out of the expected Ugx18.48b, leaving a shortfall of Ugx10.237 b for the two quarters.
Ogwel further told the committee that the Council apportions funding through resolutions on prioritisation of ‘niche or priority sports,’ which have a comparative advantage for Uganda.
The country currently has a total of 51 registered sports federations. They include, among others, the Football Association – Fufa, Uganda Athletics Federation – UAF, Uganda Netball Federation – UNF, Federation of Uganda Basketball Association – Fuba, Uganda Boxing Federation – FBF, Uganda Rugby Union – URU, Uganda Paralympic Committee – UPC, Association of Uganda University Sports, Uganda Woodball Federation, Federation of Uganda Motor Sports and Uganda Cricket Association, which have been listed as the priority funding areas.
“The National Council of Sports formulated funding guidelines to streamline support extended to the different federations or associations. Whereas some preliminary work has been done, the conclusion of the funding guidelines is awaiting the input of the Attorney General since 2019,” noted Ogwel.
He further explained that the Council on February 10, 2021, formulated interim funding guidelines to strengthen the criteria currently used for the allocation of funds under a scale of preference that ranks major games as first priority, followed by qualifiers, ranking of a particular sports federation, compliance to statutory provisions and requirements like accounting and others.
Documents before the committee indicate that the Council spent Ugx4.86b on Uganda’s participation in the Commonwealth Games that took place from July 28 to August 8, 2022 in Birmingham while Ugx1.16b to facilitate Uganda’s participation in the 5th edition of the World Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey staged from August 9-18 2022.
Under qualifier events, the council disbursed Ugx332.2 m for the Fiba World Cup qualifiers in Rwanda, Ugx100 m for the Madagascar Fiba Africa U18 Women Associations, Ugx458.2 m for the Rugby 7s World Cup Finals in Cape Town, South Africa and Ugx288.5 m for the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA.
Another Ugx156.4 m was spent on the Uganda U20 Athletics Team that travelled to Colombia for the World Athletics Championships in August and an additional Ugx550 m to National Federations or Associations for different activities.
The Select Committee Chairperson Laura Kanushu questioned how NCS qualified federations that get money. She demanded that NCS furnishes her committee with specific accountability for the money given to the different federations – saying that the figures so far provided are generic. The committee also asked for a list of the employee of NCS.
Peter Ogwang, the Minister of State for Sports acknowledged that there are weaknesses in the Council and that his Ministry was working towards streamlining its activities. He asked the select committee to accord him time to avail more information in camera regarding a section of federations he has so far visited.
Ogwang said that some of the associations were unfit to be on the NCS’ list.