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Govt slammed for Uganda's poor show at Rio Olympics

By Mary Karugaba

Added 15th September 2016 12:22 PM

Uganda's performance was described as awful and regrettable with no single medal despite representation by a 21-man team of athletes

Uganda's performance was described as awful and regrettable with no single medal despite representation by a 21-man team of athletes

Unless government steps up the budget for sports, Uganda will continue performing poorly both in local and international sports competition, Parliament has noted.

Reviewing Uganda's poor performance in the recently concluded 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Members of Parliament attributed the performance to poor funding of the sportsmen and women who participated in the events.

Other members blamed the poor performance on the state minister for Sports Charles Bakkabulindi whom they said had over stayed in office. 

In a statement to the House, MP Allan Ssewanyana noted that for years, government funding to sports has been inadequate with no show of interest in.

According to Ssewanyana, the entire sports industry receives approximately sh12b per year with only sh400m disbursed to National Council of Sports in the last four years in preparations for the Olympic Games as well as sh200m to facilitate more than 54 games and sports associations.

"This means government provides on average sh3.7m per association to be used to accommodate, train and provide per diem to various sportsmen and ladies who go to represent Uganda at various competitions," he said.

"At the just concluded Olympic Games, some participants had to be dropped as they had no air ticket, others had no kits and some coaches were dropped to the extent of the Ugandan team begging for a Kenyan coach to stand in as a helper coach to one of our boxers, leading to his knock out after one round," he added.

He described Uganda's performance at Olympic as awful and regrettable with no single medal yet the country was represented by a 21-man team of athletes.

Otuke MP Julius Achon in an emotional presentation described the challenges he went through when he represented Uganda in the 1994 World Junior Championships in Portugal. 

Achon won a gold medal however he said he was never recognised by government and for years he has struggled to get where he is.

Achon narrated how he flew to the Portugal without sports shoes. He had to borrow from a Kenyan friend.

"I speak with a heavy heart especially when I remember the challenges I went through. Even when I won a medal, I was never recognized. I struggled on my own and got scholarships that have helped me reach where I am today. Thank God that I made it and I'm here as an MP," he said as members gave him a standing ovation.

He appealed to government to remember some of the sports personalities such Dorcus Inzikuru, Davis Kamoga and others who struggled to put Uganda on the world map.

During the debate, MPs Barnard Atiku, Betty Anywar, number of MPs called on Parliament to use its appropriation powers to increase the budget for sports.

"While sports is one of the most lucrative business ventures in the world, Government has not invested much in it. As Parliament, we have the powers to increase the budget so let's not shy away from our responsibility and increase the budget," Atiku said.

MPs Abdul Katuntu, Ssenyonga Muyanja and Noah Mutebi criticized Bakkabulindi for overstaying in the office and not doing much to improve the situation.

"The sports minister has turned the area into a home. He is not bothered. If he cannot perform, let him leave and government appoints others," Muyanja said.

Katuntu wondered whether government has even bothered to purchase sports items for schools to encourage young people develop their talents.

"It's unfortunate that someone just sits in office, rides a big car with a flag and boards a plane and calls himself a minister. He travels to Rio with sportsmen and ladies, what was he looking for? He went just as a tourist," Katuntu said.

Bakkabulindi was not in the house and neither was any minister from the Ministry of Education.

At first the government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa tried to block the debate on grounds that there were no ministers from the Ministry of Education but Speaker Rebecca Kadaga insisted that the House debates the matter since the issue is about lack of funding and the Minister of Finance was around.

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