Built with US$36 million Grant from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), originally called Namboole Stadium, a name derived from the name of the hill it is located, It is now officially called Mandela National Stadium, named after the former South African president, Nelson Mandela.
At the start of Friday, 1st April 2020 morning, reports continuously circulated around different social media platforms that Uganda’s National Stadium, located in Wakiso District, was disqualified from hosting international football matches having failed to meet minimum standards.
Joyously opened in 1997 with a concert by the legendary music icon Lucky Dube, a reggae artist from South Africa, the stadium standards nosedived over the years and the ramshackle of facility has given all due wages.
Reports also had it that, only a 15,000 seating capacity St Mary’s Stadium Kitende, the home of gigantic rapid growing football power Vipers SC, a facility own by an individual (former FUFA president Lawrence Mulindwa) is the only qualified stadium to host international games in Uganda.
On this note therefore, Jamil Ssewanyana, the Mandela National Stadium Managing Director later in the day cleared the air about the reports and he confirmed the shelving of Namboole by FIFA.
Through his notice titled “Response to the Media Story about disqualification of Mandela National Stadium”, Hajji Jamil Ssewanyana confirmed the news as the document reads below.
“It is true that a Stadium inspection was done by CAF on 9th and 10th March 2020. The inspection was done immediately after an inspection by Hon. Dennis Hamson Obua, Minister of State for Sports on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Sports in February 2020.
During these inspections it was re-confirmed that Mandela National Stadium needs to be upgraded in the areas of the pitch, flood lights, dressing rooms and media facilities among others.
The inspectors’ observation was in agreement with the needs highlighted by Stadium management and the Ministry of Education and Sports to upgrade the facility to international standards.
The matter is with the Ministry now. And currently plans are being made for the renovation and upgrade of Mandela National Stadium to meet international standards”, read the document produced by Hajji Jamil Ssewanyana.
The privatization and private-public management modality could be the cause of the intended ramshackle of the facility.
It should be remembered the stadium was refurbished in 2010-11, still with a US$2.8 million grant from the Chinese Republic government.
In 2015, a Committee of Uganda’s Parliament reported that the stadium was on the verge of financial collapse, claiming that the stadium had suffered from more than a decade of “mismanagement and wanton abuse” and incurred losses totaling UGX:3.6.
The committee also noted that government’s policy of running the stadium profitably in a private-public partnership arrangement was challenge to it’s sustainability.
In 2019, the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) ordered a forensic audit into Mandela National Stadium management, after queries were raised on the UGX 875 million domestic arrears.
The directive was issued by PAC Chairperson, Nandala Mafabi while meeting with officials from the Ministry of Finance who were summoned by the Committee to respond to audit queries raised in the June 2018 audit.
The multi-purpose Stadium is mainly used for soccer matches, although other sports such as athletics, netball, handball, tennis, Volleyball basketball among others are also practiced on the penuriously managed government facility.
After investigation, Hon. Joseph Ssewungu clearly stated that, all money collected from the facility simply goes into the pockets of an individual.
Home to Uganda’s National football team (The Uganda Cranes), Mandela National Stadium has a seating capacity of 45,202.
However, despite the fact that the it’s in a sorry state, the Namboole shelving news must be a story behind another with interest to defend a previously proposed Private-Public Partnership management modality or the famous privatization sense that has sent Uganda to hell of problems.
After the proposal for a private-public partnership to superintend the facility, innumerable loaded and connected individuals started the hunt to come by and control Namboole.
The expeditious disappearance of playing fields in Uganda between the early 90s to date poses a very big threat to talent growth and the country is likely to have a cripple future.
Gone are days when Schools, currently the Uganda’s best sports breeding areas conferred a playground as one of the requirements to off the latch of any school.
However, matters were later handled in an eyeball to eyeball with manner, leading to the expeditious disappearance of playing fields.
Kitante, Kololo, Buganda road, Nakivobo Settlement playgrounds land vanished and others lost part of their land in the move to erect housing and none is relocated.
The memorable War Memorial Stadium, Nakivobo, currently undergoing an exterior encroachment in the name of development is the last punch in receipt of the football industry.
Lugogo Playgrounds, Kyagwe Road, among others are notable great losses to the industry.
The lack of a well plonked National Sports Policy, cripple government investment into sports stand out to be a big challenge to sports infrastructure.
Regional Stadiums like Buhinga, Pece, Mbale Municipal, Boma, Lira, Kakyeka among other are currently under a very sorry state and need vindication.