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Netball gurus in trouble over Shs100m scam

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Simon Kabayo
Simon Kabayo
Reporter whose work is detailed

The Shs100 million that was allocated to the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF) in the Financial Year 2021/2022 for the International Male Netball Championship in South Africa has exposed the professional misconduct of the federation’s top officials.

The money in question was disbursed by the National Council of Sports to the netball federation in 2021 to facilitate the preparation of Uganda’s men netball team, the Rock, to participate in the championship which took place in Pretoria, South Africa in September 2021.

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) (Central Government) that is currently probing the matter as reported by the Auditor General John Muwanga has noted accountability flaws in the expenditure of the funds which adversely affected the facilitation of the netball players in terms of allowances, meals, accommodation and other planned activities.

As a result, the PAC deputy chairperson, Asuman Basalirwa, on Thursday handed the UNF President, Sarah Kityo, Richard Muhumuza (Vice President) and Aidah Nambusi (Treasurer) to the Parliament Police Criminal Investigation Department for further management.

This is after the officials, while appearing before the committee, failed to properly account for the funds but rather pointed fingers at their president for allegedly diverting a huge chunk of the money for her personal use at the expense of the planned activities.

Nambusi told the committee how on the eve of the night the players travelled to South Africa she withdrew Shs98 million of the received Shs100 million and took it to Kityo in her office in the presence of other executive committee members for allocation as per the planned budget.

However, to her shock, Kityo ordered her to leave her office claiming that her services were no longer needed since she was not part of the team travelling to South Africa.

“Out of the Shs98 million, she told me to pay Shs11 million to Beyond the Sky Travel Company for five air tickets and another Shs1.7m Mando Shoes and Clothing Centre. The rest of the money (Shs85.3 million), she told me to hand over all the money and leave the office,” Nambusi said.

Nambusi added that Kityo received the money without signing on any voucher claiming “she was time-barred and that accountability would be done when they return from the trip.”

“Even when I later returned to ask her about the documents and information of how the money was spent so that I could account for it, she [Kityo] told me not to bother because she has an accountant who will do the accountability. I was left useless and since then, I have never done any accountability at UNF,” she said.

Both Yahaya Sengabi, UNF Publicity Secretary and UNF Secretary, Aminah Mande, who were present when Kityo was handed the money confirmed that indeed the latter received the money and single handedly managed it without the committee’s input.

“It is true that when the treasurer asked the president to sign the voucher, she barked at her and reminded her that she is the president of the federation. She got Shs25 million out of the Shs85.3 million and put it aside. She removed another Shs5 million which she said was for paying for the sports kits. When I reminded her that we needed to distribute the money according to the needs, she reminded me how I am a public relations officer,” Sengabi said.

Vice President Muhumuza said Kityo would then give him Shs15 million out of the balance left to give to NCS General Secretary, Dr Bernard Patrick Ogwel, who had lent them money to secure visas for the players. She also handed him another Shs40.3 million which he would use to facilitate the netball team in South Africa.

“You realise that the budget of Shs72 million which we had prepared was not followed. I had to work within the available Shs40.3 million which she gave me. This affected the meals and even players’ allowances,” Muhumuza said.

Kityo denied all the allegations saying she is not responsible for the accountability of the funds meant for the netball team in South Africa. “I delegated Muhumuza as the responsible officer for financial management of the entire trip in South Africa. Also, I did not authorise any payment in regards to the Shs100 million,” she said.

She also denied ever making any accountability to NCS in respect of the said money despite the committee showing her the accountability letter that was reportedly authored by her.

When interrogated further by Basalirwa on if she received any money from the Shs100 million either in form of allowances, Kityo said, “I do not remember at all getting any money.”

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