Last week, Hamson Obua, the state minister for Sports, unveiled a new board of directors for Mandela National Stadium, Namboole
The new board led by Rosette Lubwama Kebba replaces the previous one that was headed by sports critic Aldrine Nsubuga.
Other board members are Mustapha Achidri, Godfrey Wamani, Anne Abeja, Mark Namanya, Veronica Mukyala and Butaleja RDC Jimmy Ebil Segawa.
But unlike the previous boards that served two-year terms, Kebba’s team will oversee Namboole affairs for three years. The extension, perhaps in Obua’s mind, is meant to ensure that the board settles in comfortably to fulfil its work instead of going about its business as if on transitory basis.
This poor performance of the boards arose from appointment through patronage instead of ability. Many people have been previously appointed for helping ministers in politics while others are offered refuge to eke out a living through board meeting allowances.
In my view, sitting on the board of Namboole should not be a highlight on someone’s CV as has become the case in recent years. Indeed, you only need to look through the previous boards to understand why there is no tangible legacy as the state of Namboole stadium deteriorated while its 124 acres shrunk by the day.
However, it is hard to blame the boards when the stadium receives meagre funding from government whereas the cabals that have encroached on the land are protected by powerful individuals within government. So, the new board comes at a time when the stadium is facing several challenges of fulfilling the core purpose of promoting sports at the complex as well as formulating policies to take sports forward.
To me, Kebba’s team should first ensure that all the 124 acres are secured, not just on paper as the minister did a few weeks ago, but by forcing the encroachers off the land.
I know this is easier said than done but Kebba and her team need to be seen to do so. That would attract all the silent stakeholders into action for a collective effort. Many so-called investors claim to have built permanent structures like hotels, residential houses and markets but that should not be used as justification to claim their stay on the stadium land.
Meanwhile, the stadium itself currently looks like a wasted effort. The pitch condition needs serious overhauling while the sanitation is wanting. The lighting isn’t any better and the stands also need a lot of revamping to meet global standards.
Not surprisingly, Fifa last year deregistered Namboole for not meeting standards of international competition. Matters are not helped by the fact that government has of recent turned the stadium into a treatment centre for Covid-19 patients.
With no timeframe in sight to leave the stadium, my fear is that Namboole could become unusable for sports for at least another year, something Kebba and company need to address.
Lastly, Kebba and her team need to be proactive in their approach to work instead of firefighting to extinguish scandals. For instance, we need to know the board’s mission and vision for the coming year instead of the usual tags like “we shall continue from where the previous board stopped.”