The relationship between Kenya Golf Union, KGU and Kenya Golf Federation, KGF, has been uneasy ever since KGF was registered in 2017 in a tripartite agreement that involved KGU, Kenya Ladies Golf Union, KLGU and Professional Golfers of Kenya PGK as the golf fraternity rushed to comply with the Sports Act 2013.
And now, fed up with shenanigans at KGF, KGU has written to the Registrar of Sports seeking the dissolution of KGF ostensibly to “correct the registration mistake” and reinstate the Union as the sole body to oversee the sport in Kenya.
“The formation and application for registration of KGF as a national sports organization was done under the mistaken belief and understanding that this was the only means for compliance to the Sports Act 2013. The registration was procured through misrepresentation or non-disclosure of material facts,” declares a letter addressed to the Registrar of Sports by Ochieng’ Ochieng’ advocates on behalf of KGU.
Right from the onset, KGF raison d’etre was to act as a transition body to help KGU put its act together as it moved to align to the Sports Act. Now KGU says that the mandatory conditions attached to the certificate of registration have been “blatantly” violated. KGU says KGF failed to hold elections within 90 days of registration and the interim officials’ currently occupying office have failed to hold an Annual General Meeting over the period. “The interim officials have become selfish and personalized the said positions to the detriment of the game of golf and golfers in Kenya. There exists a high risk of the said certificate being used and abused by the interim officials for selfish ends and interests given that accountability institutions of KGF have never been established, commissioned and or operationalized for over three years following its formation and registration,” the letter states.
Certainly, the interim KGF officials were handed a poisoned chalice- to develop an acceptable constitution and strategic plan. It is this mandate that has over time soured relations between the two bodies. KGU is accusing KGF of failing to undertake its proposed functions as a national sports organization saying KGF only exists on paper. “It is noteworthy that KGF has never been operationalized. KGU remains and continues to be the Governing Authority of the game of golf in Kenya and the national representative of all Kenya Golf clubs. It is therefore necessary and in the public interest that registration of KGF be cancelled to give way for KGU to apply for and formalize its registration as the national sports organization in charge of the game of golf in Kenya under the law,” the letter concludes.
All indications are that KGF will contest the move by KGU. KGF president Dr. Paul Rwambo said the federation will pronounce itself on the matter this week after holding a board meeting. The KGF interim officials are Dr Rwambo, Ann Chubi Vice President (KLGU), Yassin Awale Secretary (KGU), M. Njoroge Vice Secretary (KGU), Dr. Macharia Irungu Treasurer (KGU) while executive members are Francis Okwara (KGU), Jacob Okello (PGK), Florence Macharia (KLGU) and Eunice Mpenda (KLGU).
Curiously, the spat between KGU and KGF is coming to fore at a time when the federation has produced and circulated a draft constitution calling for stakeholder input. In a letter dated April 30th 2021 addressed to Chairmen of all golf clubs, Dr. Rwambo sought to first explain the reasons behind the delay in drafting the constitution: “The review of the KGF constitution started in August 2018. Unfortunately due to a myriad factors the review process has taken far too long to finalize. This long period has however afforded KGF an opportunity to reflect on the current governance structure of golf in Kenya, identify its drawbacks and the need to come up with a structure that is more responsive to the sport.”
According to KGF stakeholders are expected to submit their feedback on the draft constitution by 30th June 2021 “thereafter the document will be finalized by a lawyer to ensure that it is coherent and consistent with all applicable laws before submission to the Sports Registrar for approval”. In the letter, Dr. Rwambo hints at simmering tensions between KGF and KGU blaming the tiff for the delay in operationalizing the federation. “We are cognizant of the fact that quite a number of golfers have not been aware of the existence of KGF. It takes time to develop an institution from scratch; it is a process and not an event. This process becomes even more challenging if the parent institutions are not willing to cede their function, affiliations and provide financial support to the new institution,” says KGF in the letter.
An insider at KGF claims that the radical proposals in the draft constitution, especially the suggested devolution of golf management to four regions, seems to have rattled KGU. The move to seek for the dissolution of KGF was unanimously endorsed at the Union’s board meeting 27th May 2021.
It remains to be seen whether the constitution making process will proceed granted that KGU has pulled the plug on KGF. No doubt, it’s going to be a battle royale and it will be noisy and messy. So who’s going to blink first? The jury is out.