NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 10 – A lot of excitement followed the revelation that the sports sector in Kenya will no longer rely on direct Exchequer financing to participate in various sports activities across the world.
The big news came as an early Christmas gift to sportspeople, sports administrators and enthusiasts as it was delivered in the first week of December last year when the board was unveiled.
The composition of the oversight board was also received with open arms except for some murmurs over the inclusion of former Vice President Moody Awori.
The mutters were however addressed by none other than the President Uhuru Kenyatta when he expressed his confidence in the former Vice President in view of the recent squander of public resources by young professionals.
The open admission by the country’s Commander-in-Chief that, lately, there has been wanton pilferage of state resources by well-placed and connected individuals in government did not come as a shocker to many.
In the recent past the world has been treated to scandal after another involving billions of shillings embezzled in dubious projects where money is paid with little or nothing to show for it.
In the sports sector, Kenyans are still watching in awe as a former Cabinet Secretary in Charge of Sports, later appointed Ambassador, together with other ministry officials fight it out in court in a bid to clear their names over the infamous Rio Olympics debacle where there are allegations of misuse of government funds.
The President’s sentiments are worrying, just as they are the true reflection of the worrying levels of corruption in the country.
All is not lost though as we can ensure that the newly established Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund does not degenerate into another scandal given that it is home to billions of shillings accruing from betting taxes which were introduced in the Finance Bill 2018 amendments.
While functionally the role of Administrator to the fund has been vested with the Principal Secretary, State Department of Sport Development whose current holder is Amb. Peter Kaberia a lot of safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that the fund is foolproof.
If well managed, the fund could transform Kenya’s sports sector in ways unimaginable and youthful talent that has hitherto been neglected would be developed at the grassroots.
Differently put, the fund is the magic wand that will inject a breath of fresh air into the country’s sporting wing but if mismanaged like other projects it will easily turn out to be the poisoned chalice for the country’s youthful multitude.
The most immediate and important factor for consideration by the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund Oversight Board chaired by Athletics Kenya boss Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Kiprono Tuwei is embarking on stakeholder engagement.
As we speak, football fans are salivating at the amounts Harambee Stars players will pocket in terms of allowances and other benefits as they head for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in June.
At a minimum each player will pocket Sh750, 000 without even touching the ball and an additional share in the Sh250 000 set for the team in case of a win or draw.
This is part of the Sh219 million received by the federation from the government as part of the Sh244 million submitted in their budget.
According to the legal frameworks establishing the fund the Sports ministry will have 55% of the monies in their control.
The context shows that 35% of this money is meant for sports, 20% for Heritage and Arts while 40% is earmarked for health care and the remaining 5% to administration of the fund.
The onus is on the oversight board to engage all stakeholders in the sports sector on what their plan is with respect to growing the sector through prudent financial management.
The fund is meant to finance the development of sports and recreational facilities that include stadiums, gymnasiums, buildings and tracks.
It is also expected that it will enhance support and access to funding for sportspersons and sports organizations to enable their participation in sporting events and competitions.
Further, it is envisaged that it will enable facilitation for acquisition and provision of equipment to sports and leisure amenities.
Unlike other scandal-ridden government projects and programmes, the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund Oversight Board must know that effective stakeholder engagement, supports the translation of stakeholder needs into organizational objectives and is the foundation for effective strategy development.
Determining the area of agreement or common motivation helps a group of stakeholders to arrive at a decision and ensures an investment in a meaningful outcome.
By Simon Mwangi
(The writer is a Communications Specialist)