Janet Museveni Orders Babirye’s Office Exit from Uganda Netball Federation

Kampala, Uganda | THE BLACK EXAMINER | Tensions have resurfaced within the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF) as Sports and Education Minister Janet Museveni has once again demanded the removal of the federation’s president, Sarah Babirye Kityo, from her position.

In her letter dated October 4, addressed to Ambrose Tashobya, the chairperson of the National Council of Sports, Ms. Museveni instructed the immediate removal of Babirye from office. The directive also stipulated that UNF should not receive any further funding until issues related to leadership and governance are resolved. Furthermore, the letter empowered the NCS chairman to revoke UNF’s certificate of recognition if they failed to meet NCS requirements. The letter also officially designated Brig. Gen. Flavia Byekwaso as the acting Vice President of the federation.

The letter stated, “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.”

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This isn’t the first time Ms. Museveni has called for Babirye’s removal to facilitate investigations. In April 2023, a meeting was convened at State House, Nakasero, attended by officials from the Ministry of Education, NCS, and UNF, during which Babirye was instructed to step aside for three months to allow investigations into allegations of player mistreatment, player harassment, misappropriation of funds, and failure to account for funds during the 2021 Pent Series. After the three-month suspension, Babirye returned to her office, but her reinstatement was marred by a confrontation on the premises.

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A group of armed policemen, acting on Byekwaso’s orders, attempted to evict her. Behind closed doors, negotiations took place 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 nearly escalated into violence until Byekwaso received a message from an unidentified source, ultimately allowing Babirye to regain access to her office.

However, this action reportedly displeased the minister, who subsequently issued a letter instructing Babirye to stay away from UNF premises until the completion and discussion of reports from the offices of the Attorney General, Auditor General, and the police’s criminal investigations directorate.

Since her contentious 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.

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