Controversy over the sale of public land in Mbale Municipality is affecting the growth of the game of rugby in the eastern Ugandan town.
The municipal council recently sold the ruby field in Busamaga to private developers. This has left members of Mbale Elephants Rugby Club with nowhere to play their game.
A Commission of Inquiry that investigated allegations of corruption in Mbale three years ago established that the sale of the land was illegal. It recommended the indefinite suspension of all developments on the property.
Despite this, part of the rugby field was fenced off by a church, which claims ownership of the land. In addition, an unknown developer recently began the construction of a house right in the middle of the field.
Rugby is not a popular game in Mbale, but it is fast growing among the youth and elite who have moved to the town from elsewhere in Uganda. The Mbale Elephants had hoped to prepare for the 15th Shield League and the field in Busamaga was their only practice ground.
Stephen Aguma, the Eastern Rugby Development Officer, says he is surprised that the land is being encroached upon.
//Cue in: "Our players ..."
Cue out: "... must be soft."//
The Mbale Elephants play Kampala Summer Campers Rugby Club on March 6th.