Alupo must be firm on interpretation & implementation of new Sports Act

Tuesday April 8 2014

The new statutory instrument should not only be implemented but also

The new statutory instrument should not only be implemented but also explained and clearly understood by non-administrators like Uganda Cranes attacking midfielder Brian Majwega (L). Photo by Eddie Chicco 

By Mark Ssali

Rather than serve its intended overall purpose, the immediately effect of the passing of the Anti-Pornography Bill in this country was to give perverts and multitudes of redundant youths with milliards of frustrations the leeway to forcefully undress and publicly humiliate young women.

If the law is intended to stem moral decay, what then is more immoral than having a gang of young men behaving like dogs on heat, pouncing on one helpless girl while frothing at the mouth and with visibly bulging crotches, stripping said girl naked with the scary possibility that they will not stop at that?

An how about the irony that has a legal instrument sparking off a wave of lawlessness, with these rabid youths taking the law into their own hands and making the areas around the Old Taxi Park and Owino, or the suburbs of Katwe and Bwaise a no-go danger zone for women not clad in gomesis, maxis, mushananas and hijabs?

While the passing of new legislation is trending in Uganda right now, what is not fashionable about the whole craze is the failure to sensitise the public for whom all these laws are being made in the first place.

Where the Anti-Pornography Bill is concerned, I am afraid Rev. Fr. Simon Lokido – the State Minister for Ethics and Integrity who is the face of this new law – and his team started off on the wrong note.

The lack of sensitisation of the public is the reason why media houses which are meant to inform the ignorant, popularise issues and influence opinion, were allowed to trivialise the Anti-Pornography Bill by branding it the Mini-Skirt Bill, drawing attention to just women’s wear and completely away from “representation through publication, exhibition, cinematography, information technology”, raising interest in just near-exposure of sexual parts and not to “engagement in real or stimulated explicit sexual activities”.

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That whole scenario should be forewarning to the people in the sports fraternity as we go into the era of the New Sports Act.

The Ministry Of Education and Sports will meet national sports associations in the next few days, to brief them on this new Statutory Instrument before its commencement.

The minister in charge, Jessica Alupo, has got to ensure that a thorough job is done in educating these associations about the Act, leaving no doubt in those people’s minds as to what the whole thing means.
But her crusade must not stop at that.

The other stakeholders have got to brought on board, the details of the Act broken down into the simplest and most easily understandable language for the general public through the newspapers, on television, on the trending social media outlets and, crucially, on the thousands of FM radio stations which are more listened to, further reaching and more culturally diverse.

Alupo should not allow one of most desperately needed and most truly meaningful and lasting milestones of her tenure to be trivialised and visualised by the public as, for example, the Anti-Fufa Bill.

While the issue of Fufa Ltd’s legality is of utmost importance and has been central to the championing of this new Act, the Act is about more than just the football federation and is all-encompassing, because many other associations in similar or even deeper dire straits, and others much more successful than their football big brother cannot be ignored.

We cannot have a rendition of the state of affairs where the word pornography is reduced to meaning mini-skirt.

And for Alupo there will be nothing more important about this Act than its implementation.
It must not become an encased piece of paper hanging off her office wall, or a collection of paragraphs and phrases vulnerable to subjective interpretation and occasionally referred to by the media for argument’s sake or sports politicians to selfish, short-term ends.

Alupo must be braced for the challenges that come with implementation, and be brave, decisive and foresighted about how she is going to go about it. There will of course be a time when it is someone’s else’s problem, but first cuts run deepest and it is critical that the right precedents are set.

For her ministerial colleague Rev. Fr. Lokodo one enormous challenge for example is how to monitor and control the information technology part of the Anti-Pornography Bill. There are fewer skimpily dressed women walking the streets than the millions of lurid sex videos being forwarded from one phone to another via Whatsapp, just for one.
For Alupo, thankfully it doesn’t get that complicated. All said though, fresh registration of the different sports associations with the NCS in compliance with the Act is the easier part.

Monitoring of the consistent submission of audited books of accounts is another, and that too much smaller than, say, attracting and soliciting funding and partnerships for sports by the new National Forum Of Sports Associations which will be reporting to the minister.

But for Alupo and her team there can be no excuses for leaving any grey areas where the stakeholders and general public are concerned. Unlike Rev. Fr. Lokodo and the mini-skirt, Alupo cannot flinch or stutter if asked the sports equivalent of “how short is short?”

mmssali@yahoo.com
@markssali on twitter