Federation presidents: No size fits all basis in how they are elected

Fufa president Magogo faces no term limits presently. That's the same for many sports federations in Uganda. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

In 2018, Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) turned a blind eye to the NCS requirement that one must have served or played or the sport to be involved in its supreme management in order to bring Moses Muhangi in president.

The 2014 National Council of Sports (NCS) Statutory Instrument No. 38 is the regulation under which federations are currently registered.

It also defines the minimum qualifications for participation in the leadership of these sports federations.

First, one is required to be a citizen of Uganda and then they must have participated in playing or administration duties of a given discipline to be on its executive committee.

For playing the sport, the recognized levels are; schools, district, regional, national and international competitions while the administrative levels can only be to NCS's satisfaction.

Also, one cannot be involved in the governance of more than two federations concurrently.

The last regulation allows for the rare cases like one in which Salim Musoke heads both the wrestling and weightlifting federations. But there are also some people involved in executive committees of more than one federation.

In January, NCS recognized Musoke who started weightlifting in 1976 for steering the federation for over three decades.

He has also been previously recognized by Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) and is his international body IWF's hall of famer for his services to the sport.

Another in this class of veteran administrators is Uganda Cycling Association (UCA) head Sam Muwonge alias Mahaba, who was also been severally recognized by both NCS and UOC.

Mahaba attributes his long leadership to his "passion and sacrifice" for the sport.

He took over after beating Ssenkambo Ssewagudde in an election in 1990 and headed the federation until 2000, when he decided to completely ditch his involvement in sports.

"However, in 2010, I was convinced to return after the association had had three presidents in 10 years that all left unceremoniously," Mahaba shares with SCORE.

He returned after the constitution of the association had changed to, like most federations, streamline the term of office to the Olympic of four-year terms. 

He has since been elected thrice. He also feels there are not enough people with as much passion to steer the federation.

Call for term limits 

In 2017, his rivals attempted to start Uganda Cycling Federation but it's activities have since slowed down as it hardly attracted the attention of regulatory body NCS. In fact Mahaba believes there is more unity in cycling now and has since worked with those individuals in strengthning cycling in Buganda kingdom.

When the new National Sports Act comes into force, the era of creating parallel bodies could come to an end as only a body registered and recognized by NCS can be allowed to run a given discipline. 

More than ever, aspiring leaders are going to need to learn and 'manipulate from within' the governance structures of their federations as the new law also seeks to promote the independence of these federations.

Simply meaning, NCS can only guide federations on the best practices but cannot force them to follow them.

"I love what the UOC did by introducing term limits in their constitution and that should be the way forward for us. But you also see that before an election, they organise themselves internally on who should lead the body," Mahaba said.

That togetherness is what we lack in cycling. You cannot trust the motives of the people who want to come in and if we do not handle it carefully, we shall go back to the lack of stability we had in the 2000s," Mahaba says.

Handball supremo Sheila Richardson Agonzibwa also had a break, after leading the federation from 1992 to 2002, but returned in 2011 and has had three terms since.

The terms of office, even though they differ, have been very easy for all federations to adopt.

Six of the known 52 federations have two year terms for their executive members and presidents. 

Three have three year terms while another three also have five year terms.

Majority of the federations have four year terms.

Since 2011 some federations and associations have tried to include education, age and presidential term limits in their governance structures but these are yet to catch on across board.

Tightening the grip 

Cricket and golf presidents have the shortest serving span as they can only lead for two two-year terms.

Fufa requires that their president is aged between 30 and 70 while boxing cut out anyone exceeding 75 years.

Some federations have also modified their constitutions to tighten the grip on who should lead them.

In 2018, Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) turned a blind eye to the NCS requirement that one must have served or played or the sport to be involved in its supreme management in order to bring Moses Muhangi in president.

To his credit, Muhangi quickly made inroads in service and but boxing got their comeuppance as their president has since introduced rules that probably only those he blesses can fully satisfy.

The simple ones are that; one should have at least a boxing national technical officer (NTO) level  certificate and be an executive or senior member of a club in good standing for five years consecutively.

The first one was adopted from UOC, when it started to require that its leaders have some qualifications in sports management. 

In fact UBF started NTO courses just like UOC did in establishing administration and management courses before they amended their constitution to include that candidates for president, general secretary and their assistants: "must be the holder of the minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a recognizable institution, and the holder of a diploma in sports from a recognizable institution. Where the candidate has a sports degree, the requirement for a diploma shall be dispensed with." 

UBF also further modified the NCS regulations to ensure that someone who is serving another federation cannot serve theirs. 

Exclusive class

But the regulation that requires one to be a member of the outgoing UBF executive committee (excomm) for a period of four consecutive years basically ring-fences leadership positions for eternity and means Muhangi can only be removed if the leaders he is working with turn against him.

Also the UBF excomm can manipulate the additional requirement that "one must not have been suspended for violating the federation's constitution for a period exceeding six months" to close out dissenting rivals.

Muhangi picked some of these straight from the Fufa rule book, which required that to compete for presidency, one should have served on the body's excomm or that of their members for a period of seven years before contesting in the 2013 election in which Dr. Lawrence Mulindwa paved way for Moses Magogo.

Fufa has since changed that to requiring "football administrative experience as defined in the Fufa electoral code for a period of at least seven years within the ten years preceding the elections". 

They also require that a presidential candidate must have been resident within Uganda for two years prior to the elections.

The one that has recently proved contentious says that "only members of Fufa may propose candidates for the office of President. Members shall notify the general secretariat in writing of the name of a candidate for the presidency of Fufa at least two months before the date of the General Assembly."

Again Kasule, cried foul in 2021 claiming that while the statutes allowed for one to be nominated only after getting signatures from any three members of Fufa from among the Super League clubs, Big League clubs and Special Interest Groups, his eternal rival Magogo had made all members "unknowingly endorse" the incumbent's candidacy.  

Overall, there is no "one shoe fits all" requirement to lead all federations. NCS and UOC have tried to establish a standards but without the whip to compel everyone, their members will keep biding their time to embrace uniformity.

Also, where serving leaders still have interest to continue, they will keep modifying these requirements to cut out opponents.


Two years: Roll Ball, Canoe Kayak, Cricket, Baseball and Softball, Ultimate Frisbee, Golf 

Three years: Scrabble, Floorball, Deaf Sports

Four years: Badminton, Bodybuilding, Kabaddi, Sports Climbing, Fencing, VX, Table tennis, Netball, Athletics, Handball, Volleyball, Judo, Wrestling, Weightlifting, Motorsports, Rowing, Gymnastics, Ludo, Swimming, Draughts, Rugby, Fufa, Lacrosse, Pool, Paralympic, Skating, Squash Rackets, Zurkhaneh, Boxing, Chess, Tennis, Hockey, Darts, Cycling, Taekwondo, Dance Sport, Archery, Fuba, Kickboxing

Five years: American Football, Dragon Boats, Woodball

Constitutions sampled for this article: UOC, Fuba, Hockey, Tennis, Boxing, Fufa, Rugby, Swimming, Gymnastics, Rowing, Badminton, Athletics, Volleyball, Cricket and Golf