Athletics official threatens to create parallel structures
By Mphatso Malidadi & Peter Fote:
Beleaguered athletics official Godfrey Phiri has threatened to create parallel Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) structures after accusing the Malawi National Council of Sports’ instituted caretaker committee of side-lining his faction.
Phiri has sparked controversy after attending the official launch of a race in Lilongwe on Saturday before travelling to Zambia Monday to attend the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) elective congress.
Ironically, Phiri, who alongside his associate Frank Chitembeya were suspended from athletics before the council lifted the ban, accused MNCS of using the care-taker committee to run athletics.
“This is government interference because all correspondence has to go through the Sports Council before reaching the care-taker committee.
“This is total confusion. The Sports Council is an arm of government and cannot handle the affairs of athletics. It is now seven months since the dissolution of AAM. This means that they have killed athletics Malawi,” he said.
Phiri said he has travelled to Zambia because World Athletics still recognises him and his committee.
“The air ticket came from there [World Athletics] because they recognise me as AAM President until I am voted out by AAM affiliates at the AGM [annual general meeting] called by the association,” he said.
Phiri said the council, through the caretaker committee, was working hard to oust them from the sport.
“They have set up committees composed of people who are not known in the sport. This is one way of getting rid of us. What MNCS is doing is unacceptable,” he said.
The development comes as the caretaker committee, having set structures such as regional, coaches, athletes and referees committees, is set to oversee elections of AAM on Saturday in Mzuzu.
Phiri said they called off their planned elections that were slated for February 26 upon being offered a truce by the council.
“However that did not happen,” he said.
MNCS Public Relations and Communications Officer Edgar Ntulumbwa refused to comment on the matter, saying he is not better placed to comment but referred us to Justice Sylvester Kalembera, who is chairperson for the Elections Committee.
Kalembera said Phiri and Chitembeya have been part of the exercise.
“They attended meetings and we planned everything together. Why are they changing the tune now,” he said.
The council dissolved AAM because of failure to hold an AGM within the stipulated period and provide an audited financial report.