Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) is by fellowship to Stephen Kiprotich, the most fruitful local sports body in Uganda lately.
It is, therefore, easy to see why it is currently considered a useful point of reference when it comes to delivering success and why it is also the envy of others federations seeing that it is relatively an incident-free island in a sea of bickering that is local sports administration.
That serene portrayal, however, could be blown out of the water by the recent clashes ignited by the contest to become the federation’s next head which pitted incumbent Domenic Otucet and his challenger, former world junior champion Julius Achon against each other.
As it were, Achon claimed the entire process was designed to keep him out and wanted it halted lest he withdrew.
Otucet maintained that he was acting constitutionally in ensuring the election went ahead with or without Achon.
And true to the form of incumbency, the elective assembly did go ahead to, and with Achon keeping to his boycott promise, invite Pastor Otucet and his entire cabinet to a second bite of the cherry that is the federation leadership.
Achon has since threatened to seek redress from the courts of law where he saw none forthcoming from National Council of Sports.
And so that is how UAF lost all its innocence in this commotion of suspended and re-instated district associations, unknown representatives, legalese, accusations and counter accusations about electoral fraud. Apparently, beneath the calm surface was an underbelly as dirty as any you will find in local sports today. And how typical then that this mess manifested itself in a power struggle
The thing is that in local sports and, to be frank very much else, we tend to see power as an end in itself and because of that we tend to throw out all sensibilities in its bloody minded pursuit.
It is a zero sum game in which incumbents have been known to bend rules in their favour and challengers to disrespect any outcome that doesn’t guarantee their own chances. The collective cost of such melees is that all parties feel so wronged and all chances of working together in the post-election period burn along with the bridges of communication.
This is why the fights simmer on long after the returning officer has called the result and why the vanquished, in this case Achon feel the fight must go on.
For the record, I neither condone un-constitutionalism nor see sense in leaving your opponent no wriggle room, but one just has to wonder if it would have come to this if the federation and Achon had been more accommodative of each other. In the end, these battles tend to drag on forever once they start and the ultimate loser is neither those in power nor those seeking it but the people or organization they profess to serve.
So it is about time we started to consider the costs of getting power and also challenging whether it is worth it at all. Because when all is said and done, power must be a means to provide leadership to those who entrust us with it and not a contest to the death.