We need a sports movement free of masqueraders

Despite heavy investment from the government and other stake holders, Rwandan sports movement has proved to be full of masqueraders.
Bonnie Mugabe
Bonnie Mugabe

Despite heavy investment from the government and other stake holders, Rwandan sports movement has proved to be full of masqueraders.

Looking around, all the sports governing bodies in Rwanda, under their umbrella body, the National Olympic Committee, one can attest that the sports federation in the country are full of masqueraders or let’s call them thieves.

Here is what drives me to say so. Mid this week, I got a report from an official of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), who had come to Rwanda to meet the Ministry of Sports officials such that it can act on the pending ban waiting to be slapped on the local tennis federation.

For starters, Rwanda Tennis Federation (RTF) owes ITF uncleared debts amounting to $26,800 (15,946,643.20 Rwf) and Rwf 50,000 for a period between 2007 and 2012.

Here is how the debts were incurred; On January 6-12, 2007, the former regional development officer Prince Madema covered hospitalization bills for talented player Cekina Niyonshuti after sustaining an injury to a tune of $2,200 during the ITF/CAT East Africa Junior Championship held in Kenya.

Last year, RTF never paid $750 subscriptions fee with the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) and ITF subscriptions from 2010, 2011 and 2012 which amounted to $10,280 as well as CNOSR subscription amounting to Rwf 50,000.

On December 22, 2010, Prince Madema paid $2,170 in respect of high altitude balls purchased for the East Africa 18 & under circuit held in Rwanda.

On May 20, 2010, ITF covered an airfare worth $1,342 for Giselle Umumararungu and Olivier Havugimana to compete in the African junior championship held in Abuja as well as ITF training centre fees from 2011-2012 which tallied to $8000.

On November 10, 2011, the federation was hit with fines incurred on players who participated in the ITF Men’s future and this was at a tune of $2058.

This year, on July 13, the International federation’s general assembly which is expected to meet in Copenhagen will ban Rwanda to never compete in any tennis competition for good unless these debts which have been ignored by two different administrations led by the current CNOR boss Dr. Charles Rudakubana and Francois Ruterana have been cleared.

Rwanda will be banned in accordance with the ITF constitution according to ITF vice president Vicki Fecci.

Article 4(d) which states, “Any class B member or Class C member who fails for two successive years to pay its subscriptions may either (i) be suspended (by a resolution of the council passed with at least a two-thirds majority) or (ii) be expelled (by resolution of the council passed with at least a two-thirds majority) from the company and its shares forfeited to the company.

The board of directors shall determine whether he sanction in the resolution to be put to the council should be suspension or expulsion.

Now a dossier which was ignored by Rudakubana (because if he had acted, the past debts which were incurred during his reign would have been cleared which he never did) has now put the current Ruterana in deep trouble.

When such mismanagement issues arise, who loses more? Of course it all comes back to the athlete.

 Rwandan tennis players have been struggling to up their game and even compete in regional, continental and international competitions because of people as Ruterana and cohorts, who have spent every coin in the coffers of the tennis federation accounts.

 If anyone could surprise them to know show how much they have left in the accounts of the federation, I bet if you can find even a single dollar.

Players like Cekina Niyonshuti, Jean Claude Gasigwa, Giselle Umumararungu, who three years ago were seen to have a bright future have since stagnated and hence agreed with what life has to offer ince their future and profession has been killed by thieves.

I’m sorry, I will call them thieves because there is no other name that best suites them. There is no way you can convince people that someone comes into office and after one year, opts to resign leaving coffers empty, athletes are suffering and struggling to participate in both local and international competitions.

Since 2011, Rwanda tennis federation missed on several developments offered by ITF because of poor management. They missed on the junior tennis initiative, EDP (Equipment Distribution Programme), didn’t send anyone to Davis Cup tourney as well as the just concluded East Africa junior championship in Burundi.

It is like Rwanda has no leaders in the sport sector and if there is none why can’t many of these so called ‘presidents’ take refresher courses which are always offered by Olympic committee annually?

Rwanda is probably the only country in the world where the so-called sports associations’ presidents rely solely on the government to provide every penny for their operations.

They don’t care to come up with any initiative to source for funding.  But why has this continued to happen? Simple, because most of these so-called presidents are illiterate, many can’t even draft a sponsorship or marketing proposal, and greedy as they are, they will spend every coin in the federation’s coffers until it has completely dried up.

Other federations like athletics, volleyball and basketball are experiencing the same issues and this has been proved with the continued resignations of the top administrators.

Cricket, Golf, NPC, Football and Cycling are trying their level best to care for the athletes’ needs rather than feeding their greedy bellies.

So, when will this outrageous tendency end? Does it require intervention from President Kagame? I suggest the Ministry of Sports look into this matter and come up with stern measures.

MINISPOC should cleared the RTF’s outstanding bill so as to prevent the ITF ban, and after send to jail the culprits involved in these issues. If not, expect more crises to arise and not until stern measures are taken to arrest the situation, Rwanda’s sports sector will be doomed.


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