Mere change will not solve USPA woes

By Charles Mutebi

Added 21st November 2016 10:58 AM

USPA’s challenges run deeper than what one divisive election can address.

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Current USPA president Sabiiti Muwanga

USPA’s challenges run deeper than what one divisive election can address.

Change may or may not be coming to the Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA).

The electorate will decide this Saturday at Christ the King Church. Yet the question — assuming you want a change — is what kind of change?

Is it, to borrow a nationally renowned phrase, a mere change of guards or a fundamental change? And will the outcome of the polls, one way or the other, deliver said change? For the record, I believe USPA needs change but not the cosmetic type.

USPA is facing an existential crisis and the notion that simply electing a new USPA president or cabinet will solve it is wrong.

USPA’s challenges run deeper than what one divisive election can address. What USPA needs is radical, holistic change. The whole idea of sports journalism in Uganda needs to be re-evaluated and every member of USPA needs to make an honest self-assessment.

To begin with, why all the acrimony for what are basically voluntary positions? Why the gall and bitter campaigning if the motive for leading USPA is selfless service?

You can find faults with incumbent Sabiiti Muwanga and his two-year reign as USPA boss but he is, at worst, merely a symptom of a systemic malaise. Getting rid of Sabiiti or keeping him will not in and of itself lead to the desired transformation.

After all, you can equally criticize Leone Ssenyange, Muwanga’s opponent at Saturday’s polls, over certain things he’s done or said.

Truth be told, all of us have failed USPA in one way or the other and that’s why we cannot merely treat the upcoming elections as a contest between one camp and another. These elections are really a larger referendum about our trade.

Can we as sports journalists afford to continue down the path of unethical practices like the kickback culture that has reduced us to mere PR agents instead of being the eyes and ears of the public? Can we afford to continue the petty divisions and fights within the fraternity instead of fostering a culture of mature discourse?

There was a time when USPA could speak with one voice and what a thunderous roar it made!

Now, so divided, we are more prone to produce discordant meows. Yes, USPA remains one of the most democratic bodies in Uganda but democracy can hinder progress if it does not lead to a positive culture.

Needless to add, the culture USPA lacks. That’s why all the hype about the upcoming elections is lost on me. Regardless of the merits or demerits of the contestants on that day, the real issue will not be on the agenda. But then again, it’s always been easier to treat symptoms.

Problem is, if the cancer goes untreated it will eventually destroy the association. Some say it already has and you can only hope they are wrong. USPA is in an existential crisis and the upcoming polls will either push us closer to the end or push back onto the path of desired transformation. The latter is highly unlikely, of course, and you can expect the final few days to the election to be marked by an increase in the political campaigns.

Sadly, I can’t say may the best candidates win.

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