By Alex Bossa
At first glance, the requirement to have held an active role in football management for a period not less than seven years and being endorsed by each of the three categories (FUFA Super League or Big League clubs, Special interest groups and regional football associations) are relatively easy tasks to get done which should fetch a good number of candidates but in reality, this has not been the case for the August general elections in a period stretching back to 20 years.
Marred with violence, corruption scandals and threats, the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) elections have always been a ceremony to crown either the incumbent or one who has already been in the system for the next four years instead of engaging in the actual elections.
This is a fact that has been going on since the 2001 general elections which was the last time the FUFA general assembly had more than one candidate competing for the top job in Uganda’s football. Actually that year witnessed three candidates; incumbent Denis Obua, Michael Okiror and Hajj Abbasi Kaawase Mukasa.
FUFA officials prefer to preach about how the process is in line with the core principles of democracy of free and fair elections but most great democracies don’t welcome candidates who make their way to the top unopposed as it has been the case for the August general assembly in 2005 (Lawrence Mulindwa), 2009 (Lawrence Mulindwa), 2013 (Moses Magogo), 2017 (Moses Magogo) and now 2021 (Moses Magogo).
Even those who were part of the team which came up with the electoral reforms in 2012 have also been victims of the system which was created to keep the incumbent and their subordinates in power for a long time.
For the 2021 elections, Eng. Moses Magogo, Hon. Allan Ssewanyana and Mujib Kasule all picked the nomination forms but only the incumbent Eng. Moses Magogo returned the forms with all the signatures while the rest were left to curse the monster that hid behind the signatures. As per most media reports, Magogo had blocked all forms of acquiring both the chairman and secretary’s signatures.
“We have not been able to complete the process. It is a complete sham and nobody can go through this system and succeed. It was set up to protect the incumbent like it was four years ago,” said Mujib Kasule on his withdrawal from the race.
The fact that Mujib was part of the team that came up with such ridiculous reforms shows how selfish one can be while in office. It is not until you fall victim of the exact trap you set that you realize that public opinion matters most.
One would think that Mujib had learnt lessons from his previous failed attempt to stand for the 2017 FUFA presidential general elections and come well prepared for the 2021 elections. The fact that he was part of the system that brought in Magogo, makes neutrals think that maybe it is one of those political moves to keep the incumbent for a long period of time.
But hey,he was only given 48 hours to return fully signed forms from a special interest group, regional federation, and super league clubs. As for the special interest groups and regional federations, only the secretary, chairperson or chief executive officers are required as per the 2012 regulations to sign for the aspirants.
“How is someone supposed to gather all the signatures needed on the forms within 48 hours? This is a way of frustrating those interested in challenging Magogo,” said a furious Mujib while addressing the media in May.
In the wake of the nominations, Magogo had already secured nomination from Buganda region and Express football club which left the other two candidates to acquire signatures from the seven other regional federations and the 15 clubs from the league. As claimed by both Ssewanyana and Mujib, most of the regional chairpersons and secretaries plus the super league clubs were friendly but none was willing to nominate them due to the fear of blowback from FUFA.
The fact that the secretary is employed and paid by the federation shows how it is a waste of time to go looking for a signature from the associations. Let’s not be fooled, it only takes someone who is brave to bite the hand that feeds them. The secretary may be willing to sign for a candidate but in a country like Uganda where the scarcity of jobs is still high, protection of the job overrides ethics.
The process was designed to exclude people who are outside of the federation from getting a share of the cake to the extent that even the much-feared Idi Amin or BET winner Eddy Kenzo would not be nominated.
According to FIFA’s 2015 eligibility guidelines, a candidate must have played an active role in football for two of the last five years prior to being nominated. This is in contrast with FUFA’s seven-year requirement which frustrated the majority of possible candidates back then in 2013.
FIFA went ahead to describe what it meant with an “active role”. This eligibility criteria includes players, board member, committee member, referee/ assistant referee, coach, trainer and people who have been in technical, medical or administrative issues in FIFA, confederations, member associations and league or club.
The fact that the current FUFA reforms were designed way back before the 2015 FIFA electoral reforms, the templates used then are outdated and were designed to keep the then FIFA president Sepp Blatter in management of the world’s soccer governing body for a longer period of time.
The term limits would give hope for change but during the streamlining of the reforms, the federation deliberately eliminated the term limits in contrast with FIFA’s two term limits. If Eng. Moses Magogo claims that the reforms were based on FIFA guidelines, why does it so happen that FIFA included a term limit yet the federation which is affiliated to FIFA decided to stubbornly ignore that provision?
In the practice of FIFA’s main goal of fair play, FUFA should try to find ways of eliminating incidents that may cause suspicion of fraud and corruption such as allowing player representatives and supporters union to be signatories on the nomination forms instead of the chairpersons and their secretaries who are directly employed by the Federation.