By Kenn Okaka
For more than 10 years, and with enormous public participation, leaders in sports federations and associations cracked their heads trying to solve the ever-rampant complaints by teams representing the country at international events over lack of funding.
So painstaking the situation was that at one time, the national team Harambee stars had to travel to Cape Verde in a small jet enduring a long tiresome journey, and went straight to the stadium for their AFCON qualifier match.
And when the rubber met the road, sports federations finally found a solution.
The Sports Act, 2013 was drafted and presented to parliament for debate.
It was new dawn when the act was enacted into law.
Part 3 of the act also established the National Sports Fund which since its introduction, federations and teams doing duty for Kenya had lesser and lesser complaints over the disbursement of funds compared to the pre-Sports Act time.
As a sports and football stakeholder, I’m against the treasury’s move to take control of the fund.
However, I must state from the onset that the main problem that we have had is undoubtedly the last Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Sports.
It is under their watch that the Sports fund was wrestled from the ministry and into the control of the treasury.
They closed their eyes when the Sports (Amendment) Bill 2018, seeking to repeal the National Sports Fund was tabled in parliament and passed.
The Sports (Amendment) Bill 2018, gave the Treasury absolute control of betting largess said to stand, by then at Sh12 billion.
The Bill for an Act of Parliament to amend the Sports Act, 2013, enacted by the Parliament of Kenya’ read, “5. The principal Act is amended repealing Part III.”
But CS Amina Mohammed looked the other way and without a fight, allowing the largess to be taken away from MOSCA.
In a special gazette notice, the then Cabinet Secretary for Treasury Henry Rotich dashed any hopes of sports stakeholders to having the Sports Ministry as the custodian of the betting largesse: “In exercise of the powers conferred by section 24 (4) of the Public Finance Management Act, the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Planning makes the following Regulations: The Public Finance Management (Sports, Arts And Social Development Fund) Regulations, 2018.”
Rotich’s legal notice goes on to decree: “There is established a Fund to be known as the Sports, Arts, and Establishment of Social Development Fund, the Fund.”
It specified that the sources of the Fund thus: “The Fund shall consist of all the proceeds required to be paid into the Fund under the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act; Cap. 131 and all the proceeds required to be paid into the Fund under the Income Tax Act.”
This was the last nail in the coffin, since then, the last Cabinet Secretary and her PS have been selectively funding national teams depending on how they like or dislike the federation.
Therefore, the problem was actually not the fund itself; rather, we have had the worst CS and PS in the history of sports in Kenya.
Sports fund, as a stand-alone department was a noble idea to the sports fraternity before CS Amina allowed it to be hijacked.
However, the act in its entirety had several areas which needed more stakeholder consultations seeing the sports fund was the only ideal part of the act.
Today, from the Sports, Arts and Social Develop¬ment Fund, health gets 60 percent of the total monies collected, Sports receives 35 percent and the arts get the remaining 5 percent. It is my opinion that sports being the principal contributor to the fund should be getting the lion’s share of the largess and not the other way round.
I think the National treasury wanted control over the fund, which they got.
Previously the money should have gone to the ministry of sports directly but the treasury intercepted which is wrong.
The President should intervene, as an avid sports lover, and reverse this selfish move that not only lags behind the development of sports facilities in the country but also demoralizes our sportsmen and women.
The government should let the Sports fund go back to the control of the Ministry of Sports and ensure that sports get at least 60 percent of the share.
*Kenn Okaka is the former Head of Communications at Football Federation of Kenya*