Rwanda suspends activities of nine sports federations

Thursday December 29 2016

Emmanuel Bugingo, Rwanda's Director of Sports at the Ministry of Sports and Culture. PHOTO | FILE

Emmanuel Bugingo, Rwanda's Director of Sports at the Ministry of Sports and Culture. PHOTO | FILE 

By Ivan R. Mugisha

The Rwandan government has suspended the activities of nine sports federations as part of efforts to streamline the sector.

This follows audit queries raised on why the Sports ministry was funding 'unrecognised' federations.

Those affected by the new move are banned from organising or participating in any local or foreign tournaments and will no longer be funded by the government over failure to register with the State.

Boxing, chess, golf, swimming, table tennis and judo are among federations that have received the ban. Others include universities, medics and traditional sports associations.

Many of these federations had organised end-of-year tournaments, which have now been cancelled due to the directive issued by the Ministry of Sports and Culture.

“We want each of the federations to take the responsibility of registering and applying for a legal status so that all their tournaments and events are organised in a professional manner,” Emmanuel Bugingo, the Director of Sports at the ministry, told The EastAfrican on Wednesday.

“We are faced with dangerous situations and no one wants to take responsibility for them. For example, two years ago, a young man died while participating in a karate tournament in Kayonza District that had not been authorised by the karate federation. It is such problems that we are trying to avoid.”

The ministry has also been having challenges trying to justify use of public funds on some sports events after the auditor-general faulted it for spending money on unrecognised federations.

“We had problems with the auditor-general when we spent money to support federations that did not have legal status," Mr Bugingo said, adding that "this will be no more as we will not spend anything for those that are not recognised."

Top of the challenges facing most of the federations in Rwanda is lack of funds to support sports development. At the same time, many lack large following to attract sponsors and corporate funding.

For example in August, the chess federation which had secured a slot to represent Rwanda at this year’s Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, withdrew from the tournament after failing to secure travel funds.

“One of our failures was failing to get the chess federation registered. The delay was caused by the need to get all our three founding clubs registered which took long,” Kevin Ganza, the president of Rwanda Chess Federation said in an interview.

“However, we are glad to announce that we have everything necessary in place for registration and are in the process of getting legal recognition.”

There are currently 17 legally recognised sports federations in Rwanda.

Rwanda also faces limited infrastructural facilities for different sports disciplines, which has hindered massive participation and affected the pace of sports development – a challenge recognised in the country’s sports development strategy.