Saturday January 18 2014

Chaos brewing ahead of Uganda Athletics Federation elections

Marathoner Stephen Kiprotich

Marathoner Stephen Kiprotich has dominated the limelight of Uganda’s athletics for the past two years but administrative wrangles have now taken his place. Agencies photo  

By Sande Bashaija & JacintaOdongo

A week today, Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) delegates will meet at Lugogo to elect a new executive. Unlike before, however, the athletics fraternity goes into the polls sharply divided into two camps.

On one side are the incumbents led by UAF president Dominic Otucet desperate to get another four-year term in office and those pushing for reforms before the polls are conducted.
The stage now looks set for chaotic scenes in the battle to seize administrative control of the federation that has gained considerable popularity in Uganda hugely due to excellent performances by a few individual athletes.

“We are definitely going to have trouble,” James Mugeni, the long-serving Tororo District delegate, told Saturday Monitor. “We can’t have elections under such conditions. The federation is trying to lock all those opposed to them out of the elections,” he added. The Fame Athletics Club coach accuses UAF of handpicking delegates to participate in the elective assembly at the expense of those endorsed by districts.

Other districts, which are hungry for change have been scrapped off the voting list, he claimed. “I have a letter from the district fronting Stephen Odwar (former national 100m/200m champion) and myself to participate in the assembly,” a bitter Mugeni said.

Adding; “unfortunately, the federation has picked Jude Okumu and Aggrey Ogol without the consent of the district. It’s the districts supposed to nominate and not UAF to pick who they want. The purported delegates UAF has selected don’t know anything about athletics.”

Like we have seen in local football, matters on the track could be headed to the courts of law unless the sports ministry, Uganda Olympic Committee and National Council of Sports (NCS) intervene, according to Mugeni.

“As a district, we have petitioned NCS and other concerned bodies. We hope they intervene and arrest the sham that is this elective process. Why bring mercenaries to participate in an assembly meant to develop athletics?” he queried.

The Tororo petition follows others from Lango, Mbale, Kapchorwa, Gulu, Jinja, Nebbi and schools (primary and secondary) associations.

To ensure they retain office, Mugeni claims, the current UAF executive has made sure that everyone with a divergent view doesn’t have a say in the assembly.
UAF, however, have dismissed the accusations saying they are only handling the process in accordance with their constitution.

“These petitioners must first read the constitution well before making any allegations,” UAF organising secretary Faustino Kiwa said on Thursday.
NCS board chairman John Bosco Onyik acknowledged receiving the petitions and revealed his team was watching the situation closely.

While Uganda shone at the 2012 Olympics and last year’s World Championships in Moscow courtesy of Stephen Kiprotich’s marathon victories, Mugeni and group feel the current UAF administration has done so little to develop the sport at grass-root levels.

“We must take athletics to a higher level,” Mugeni stated.

President: Dominic Otucet
VP (admin): Lawrence Kavuma
VP (technical): Okot Omony
Secretary general: Beatrice Ayikoru
Ass. general sec: Apollo Musherure
Organising sec: Faustino Kiwa
Publicity sec: Namayo Mawerere