Congratulations are in order to Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Kiprono Tuwei on his appointment as the Chairperson of the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund Oversight Board, with effect from January 18.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s gazette notice, signed on January 18, basically hands the good General the important assignment of securing financing for sports, the arts and social development projects and ensuring the same is put to prudent use and disbursed equitably.
There couldn’t have been a better choice than Lt. Gen (Rtd) Tuwei, who is also the Athletics Kenya President and Chairman of the 2020 IAAF World Under-20 Championships organizing committee, pending the long overdue constitution of championships’ Local Organizing Committee.
Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Tuwei retired from active military service in November, 2010, having served for 38 distinguished years, decorated by successive Heads of State, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta, until his retirement after having risen to the position of Commander of the Kenya Army.
Commissioned on November 23, 1973, after having joined the military as an Army Cadet, Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Tuwei was promoted to rank of Second Lieutenant by Mzee Kenyatta in 1976 with President Moi awarding him the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal) in 1983.
In 2005, President Kibaki decorated the General with the highly-regarded MGH (Moran of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya) award, highlighting an illustrious military career that saw Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Tuwei also serve, inter alia, as Commandant of the National Defence College (2005-2008), Commandant of the Armed Forces Training College (2002-2005) and Commander of the Army Logistics Command (1999-2002). He was also appointed, in 2014, as a Special Envoy of the African Union to handle the Lord’s Resistance Army impasse.
In other words, his service to the nation and continent is impeccable, and his dedication beyond reproach.
And just two weeks ago, Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Tuwei was appointed chairman of the 10-nation East African Athletics Region at the organization’s congress in Addis Ababa, thus qualifying to be one of the vice-presidents of Confederation of African Athletics (CAA).
Therefore, his appointment to oversee the sports fund doesn’t come as a surprise as the good General is reliable and equal to the task.
One of the biggest sources of finance for the Fund which Lt. Gen (Rtd) Tuwei will overseeing will be from tax revenues accruing from sports betting.
With Parliament having voted Sh20 million seed money for the Fund for the 2018/19 financial year, the Fund will utilize 35 per cent of revenues from taxation on gaming for sports development with 40 percent going to social development.
The rest will be used for the promotion and development of the arts, and for strategic government interventions as decided by the Finance Cabinet Secretary. Granted, there is genuine concern that gaming may have led many youths astray and eroded the ethos of earning from hard work, but sports betting has equally inspired the fast development of Kenyan sport.
For instance, just last weekend, Kariobangi Sharks, an erstwhile struggling club from Nairobi’s less-endowed suburbs, banked Sh3 million after edging out compatriots Bandari FC to lift the SportPesa Cup in Dar es Salaam.
Silver medallists Bandari also came back home Sh1 million richer with the tournament also handing Sharks an enviable opportunity of slogging it out with English Premier League club Everton mid this year in a friendly orchestrated by sports betting giants SportPesa.
The Pevans East Africa-owned SportPesa also continues to finance the Kenyan football league and Shield competitions besides backing giants AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia alongside investing in world pro boxing champion Fatuma Zarika and a sprinkling of smaller, off-season football tournaments.
Besides market leaders SportPesa, other gaming companies – principally Betika, Lotto, Dafabet, Betin, Betway and Elitebet – have invested a tidy sum in sports sponsorships. One cannot overlook such investment.
Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Tuwei and his team now have their work cut out and are expected to employ the “stick and carrot” approach to entice sports betting companies to continue financing Kenyan sport while also imploring them to step up their commitment to encouraging responsible gaming.
A DELICATE BALANCING ACT
Financing Kenyan sport is one of the biggest headaches for the Jubilee government whose campaign manifesto offered huge hopes for the country’s sporting fraternity and sorority, but has since flattered only to deceive. With the exchequer tackling various other pressing national needs - including health, security, housing, industrialization and infrastructure development - it remains to be seen how Treasury will raise Sh2.4 billion this year alone to finance Nairobi’s hosting of next year’s IAAF World Under-20 Championships, eke out Sh200 million Harambee Stars requires to prepare for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt and make available over Sh250 million for the World Rally Championship Safari Project, just to mention but a few major sports undertakings.
And with the over 28 national sports federations serially knocking on the door at the Ministry of Sports and Heritage’s Kencom House headquarters, begging bowls at the ready, Lt. Gen. Tuwei’s team must hit the ground running to help streamline the financing of Kenyan sport. I wish him all the best in this enviable yet challenging appointment.
I have no doubt he’s equal to the task.