Sports Act needs further scrutiny

Fufa chief Moses Magogo

What you need to know:

The issue: 
Sports Act
Our view:  
While sports is generally owned by the fans in whose interest they are organised, the Sports Act has taken that away ...

The President will in the next two weeks either have assented to or returned the Sports Bill to Parliament for further amendments. 
Passed into an Act of Parliament at the dawn of March, the new Sports Act will replace the archaic National Council Sports Act 1964.

The sports sector has for years been exasperated by the old law that, among others, categorised sports as a leisure activity decades since the sector became one of the most commercialised global activities that sees trillions of dollars exchanging hands annually. Stakeholders in the sports sector just couldn’t wait for the old law to be repealed.
When Budiope East MP and Fufa chief Moses Magogo moved a Private Member’s Bill last year, it forced the gout that had been keeping the government’s feet from moving to heal fast. In no time the government had submitted a parallel Bill that would later be merged with the “Magogo Bill”.
However, the harmonised Bill was cooked with too many selfish interests.

The Sports Act thus reached the President’s desk with some highly controversial provisions that could leave a profound effect on the sector. While sports is generally owned by the fans in whose interest they are organised, the Sports Act has taken that away and leaves fans always a step away from being criminals at any sports events.
For instance, should the law be gazetted, it will be illegal for fans or journalists to take pictures of or capture videos at sports events and share them on social media without prior consent of the responsible sports federation.

The provision says electronic media production of sports events and competitions (capture by still or moving camera or recording of audio without authorisation) will result in a fine not exceeding Shs2.4m or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.
This particular provision already contravenes Article 29 of the Constitution of Uganda 1995 (as amended),which guarantees protection of these individual rights – including freedom of the press, media practitioners and individuals who can freely want to exercise their right to civic journalism.

Moreover, a look at the provision that bans individuals from importing, manufacturing, distributing, producing, selling, displaying Ugandan sports branded material without authorisation from respective federation is equally appalling. This provision is an affront on local artisans and directly kills the industry just because federations want to wash everything down their stomach. The President should return this Bill to Parliament for consideration to protect the spirit of sports and keep fans involved.