Sports Registrar: Public office divides opinion with abandon
The office of the Sports Registrar is anchored in Chapter 45 of the Sports Act 2013 with a mandate to register and regulate sports organisations, license professional sports and professional sports persons and arbitrate registration disputes between sports organisations.
However, since the first occupant Rose Wasike assumed it in 2015, it has become an office that is loved and loathed in equal measure.
Supporters of the office laud it for injecting sanity and discipline in Kenya’s chaotic sports federations while its detractors find it a source of frustration and impunity.
A seasoned lawyer, Wasike is a stickler to the rule of law and football, boxing, hockey, handball and volleyball are just some of the sporting disciplines that have met her wrath in recent times.
Always in the eye of a storm, that never seems to bother her so long as she maintains law and order.
What has drawn the ire of most federations is the Registrar’s refusal to register sports bodies who have failed to comply with the Sports Act following the end of the transition period from the Societies Act.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) is the latest to feel the might of Wasike’s office after the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) nullified last month’s elections following a petition that sought directions to be allowed to conduct elections and comply with the Sports Act later as opposed to the Registrar’s instance that compliance comes before the polls.
FKF’s elections were, however, cancelled on another issue: The eligibility criteria at Section 4 of the FKF 2020 Electoral Code which the SDT termed “unreasonable and designed to lock out potential aspirants while agreeing that the federation can conduct elections and comply with the Sports Act later.
But while FKF won in that respect, its decision to get SDT’s nod means it foresaw danger from Wasike’s office had it gone ahead with the process.
The federation might have acted on the evidence of other sports bodies that have not been lucky in that respect.
One such organisation is AFC Leopards who saw results of last year’s elections not accepted by the Registrar who refused to hand them a registration certificate, saying the process was flawed.
“This office has been a pain and I have witnessed that as an official. I am sorry to say because I have been a victim and I know how inconveniencing it is. Our own elections were compromised and interfered with such that we do not have a certificate yet.
I blame her (Wasike) because she knew exactly what she was doing. I feel that office needs stabilising because there are glaring challenges,” an angry Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda told People Sport on Monday.
Indeed during her tenure, no club or sporting organisation has been registered formally with many of the affected associations terming the issue of compliance ‘impossible’.
In some cases, warring factions have been issued with interim compliance certificates such as in 2016 when Kenya Hockey Union and a splinter group called Hockey Federation of Kenya both claimed to be in charge of the sport after due recognition by the office of the Registrar.
Kenya Volleyball Federation president Waithaka Kioni believes the tight corner most sporting organisations find themselves in can only be cured if the Sports Act itself is fixed.
“This is a discussion we have had as stakeholders a couple of times but nothing concrete came out of it.
The challenge with the office of the Sports Registrar is about efficiency and implementation of rules and as long as that bit of the Act cannot be changed, we will hear more of the same. That office needs to be empowered and be practical in its demands,” said Kioni.
Calls for sobriety
It is a view shared by Kenya Table Tennis Association boss Andrew Mudibo with sports lawyer Elvis Majani calling for sobriety in addressing the issues while arguing that the biggest impediment in the office of the Registrar is underfunding and holes in the Sports Act which require amendments.
However, there are those who feel Wasike is just the perfect antidote for the largely unorganised sports federations.
Sports consultant Harold Ndege believes federations are deflecting attention from their inefficiencies by blaming Wasike.
“What we have is individuals who do not want to follow laid out guidelines. The issue is about poor managerial attitude and the Registrar is saying follow procedure or get out.
Reluctance of sporting institutions and leaders to follow the rules make it difficult to have the office of the Registrar to operate properly which is unfortunate,” said the former Tusker FC forward.
Efforts to get Wasike’s response on the numerous accusations leveled at her office proved futile as she declined to comment when contacted by People Sport.