The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Ferwafa On the Spot Over Electoral Reforms

The name Jean Mbanda (Hon) may not ring a loud bell to the ears of the average follower of Rwandan football, but it truly does to those at the top echelons of the country's most popular sport.

The former Kiyovu SC chairman and coach is well known for his sometimes radical views in regards to how football is managed in Rwanda, which is why the one-time candidate for Ferwafa's top seat is liked by some and disliked by others in almost equal measure.

When his name was put out in the press last week as one of the five potential candidates aspiring to unseat incumbent Celestin Ntagungira, his reaction was more surprising than obvious.

On hearing his name being mentioned on one of the local radio stations during a sports talk show, Mbanda, strong-willed as he has demonstrated in the past, confronted the local football governing body, armed with a letter in which he called for clear guidelines on the impending elections as well reforms in the whole system.

The letter:

Written in Kinyarwanda and which Saturday Sport has a copy, the two-page letter was addressed to Ferwafa's Secretary General (Michel Gasingwa), and copied to the National Olympic Committee president and the Minister of Sports, with the subject, 'Requesting for guidelines on candidates and everything else regarding election for Ferwafa's executive committee'.

"For the last few days I have been surprised and astonished by stories I heard on some radio stations (Radio One and Radio Flash) as well newspapers (The New Times and Kigali Sun) saying that I may have presented my candidature or plan to present myself to lead Ferwafa,"

"... .and because I have been taught to follow the law, I would like to find out if it is you who might have given that information to the media like article 31 (clause 5) of the laws that govern Ferwafa, which states clearly that only you (the SG) can receive the names of candidates and only you hold the right to present them to the Ferwafa general assembly," the letter reads in part.

He went to wonder whether Gasingwa or anyone else he might not be aware or played a role in leaking his 'candidature' to the media and if yes, they indeed fulfill the necessary legal status as required by Ferwafa's constitution.

"I would like to remind you that a member must have the legal status according to article 8, 2 of the laws that govern Ferwafa as well as article 10 of 1987 that empowers the ministry for sports the overriding powers to govern sports in Rwanda."

In the past, Ferwafa elections have been criticised in some quarters for being 'stage-managed' in favour of a particular candidate and Mbanda has come up with some interesting questions regarding the nature and legality of the electorates.

He says, "For me the first thing people need to deal is not to change leaders but to change how leadership is understood."

"There is too much that needs to change in Ferwafa's electoral process before real elections can be held, and the concerned people must realise that without doing it under the law, nothing will be achieved in our dream to take Rwandan football to the next level," he professed.

However, when contacted to find out Ferwafa's take on Mbanda's letter, SG Gasingwa could not answer the calls despite repeated attempts by this paper.

No decision yet:

Mbanda, who withdrew from the race at the eleventh hour against former FA president Gen. Jean Bosco Kazura's first term, says he has not made up his mind on whether to stand in the next election.

"My problem is not about becoming Ferwafa president, what I want is to see things being done the proper way and professionally," he told Saturday Sport.

To date, Ferwafa have yet to set neither the date nor the month when the election will be held and no official list of candidates has been released.

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