Kampala, Uganda | URN | Tension is again brewing at the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF) after Sports and Education Minister, Janet Museveni once again ordered federation president, Sarah Babirye Kityo out of office.
Ms Museveni conveyed the directive in her October 4 letter addressed to the chairperson of the National Council of Sports, Ambrose Tashobya, instructing him to ensure that Babirye vacates the office immediately.
The letter directs that no further funding be extended to UNF until the issues of leadership and governance are resolved. Additionally, the letter instructs the NCS chairman to withdraw the certificate of recognition from UNF if they fail to meet the requirements of NCS. The letter also confirms Brig. Gen. Flavia Byekwaso is the acting Vice President of the federation.
It states, “In the interim, Brig. General Flavia Byekwaso should continue to act in the position of acting president of the Uganda Netball Federation, following my earlier directive dated July 24, until further guidance is provided by my office upon receipt of the report from the Criminal Investigation Department of the Uganda Police Force.”
This isn’t the first time Ms Museveni has ordered Babirye out of office to pave way for investigations. In April 2023, she convened a high-level meeting at State House, Nakasero, attended by officials from the ministry of Education, NCS, and UNF.
During this meeting, she instructed Babirye to step aside for three months, to allow investigations into allegations of mistreatment of players during the 2021 Pent Series, player harassment, misappropriation of funds, and failure to account for funds. After the three-month suspension, Babirye returned to her office, but her return was marred by a confrontation at the premises.
A group of armed policemen, ordered by Byekwaso, attempted to evict her. Behind closed doors, negotiations occurred between Byekwaso and Babirye, with the former seeking an authorization letter for Babirye’s return. However, Babirye contested the need for such a letter, as she claimed she had never received an official suspension notice.
The situation almost escalated to violence until Byekwaso received a message from an unidentified source, ultimately allowing Babirye to regain access to her office.
However, this action reportedly irked the minister, who subsequently issued a letter directing Babirye to stay away from UNF premises until the completion and discussion of the reports from the offices of the Attorney General, Auditor General, and the police’s criminal investigations directorate.
Since her controversial return to office, a conflict has persisted between Kityo and her vice president Byekwaso. Last month, Babirye chaired an executive meeting that resolved to end Byekwaso’s interim tenure, citing her failure to provide a report on the She Cranes World Cup campaign.
Attempts to obtain a comment from Kityo were unsuccessful, as she did not respond to questions sent to her known contact number. Speaking to journalists at the TLC Arena in Kamwokya, where she was presiding over the Independence Netball Cup, Byekwaso reiterated that Kityo had been sent on leave in April for investigation, and that fact remained unchanged, making her the acting head of the netball governing body.