The number of electorates to Football Association of Malawi (Fam) elective annual general meeting (AGM) could be among the lowest in Southern Africa and some quarters are calling for an increase of the same to avoid voter manipulation.
Some 36 voting delegates will decide the winners for Fam Executive Committee elections scheduled for December 14 in Mangochi District, a number some quarters feel is small for a football-mad nation of 18 million people.
Comparatively, 62 delegates vote in Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) elections, whose affiliates are more inclusive drawn such from higher education and tertiary institutions, whereas out of its 138 delegates to Zambia Football Association AGM, 89 are voters.
In Zambia, Super League teams send 20 people to vote, 20 others come from second tier Division One then the rest for women football, referees, coaches and regional leagues and beach soccer among others.
Elsewhere, some 400 delegates vote for South Africa Football Association leaders and the delegates are drawn from 153 affiliates.
Back home, Super League of Malawi is represented by eight delegates, six each come from three regional football associations, two each from women’s football, beach soccer, youth, coaches and referees.
This according to, Bravo Chiperesa, former Caf A-Licence coach defunct Super League side Eagle Beaks, is a big joke.
“By allowing 36 people to elect football office bearers for 18 million Malawians is not just an insult, madness but also human rights violations. Number of voters must increase to at least 5,000 people. Each district committee should be considered to be an affiliate of Fam. Each football club which is in a Fam-sanctioned league should send two members to vote,” he said.
However, one of the affiliates, Southern Region Football Association Chairperson, Raphael Humba, said it was faulty suggesting that the big chunk of Malawi’s population should vote in football elections.
“There are many people in the world and yet only 208 vote in Fifa elections. Likewise, some only 54 vote in Caf elections, so we have to argue based on knowledge. If people have proposals that the number of Fam delegates should be increased, they have to lobby the affiliates, who if convinced, can push for an amendment of the constitution,” he said.
Fam, just like all member associations in the world, re-aligned their statutes to be in line with that of Fifa.
Northern Region Football Association General Secretary, Masiya Nyasulu said increasing the number of affiliates cannot guarantee more representation of the local football constituency.
“It is all about integrity. That is what we should be talking about. Even if you put the number of delegates at 5,000, candidates can still find a way of reaching out to them and manipulate them,” Nyasulu said.
Former Fam acting general secretary, George Kaudza Masina, said it is easy to manipulate voters in the current system.
“In our time each affiliate used to send 10 delegates to the AGM but before that you could even have 1,000 delegates drawn from every club and district committee were also represented. In those days, it was easy to manipulate them as some voters from the countryside could not afford to go to the AGM. In view of this, candidate could just pick people from the street and say vote for me representing district A or B. The current system is also easy to manipulate as people vote in blocks. Once you bribe a chairperson of an affiliate, it is difficult voting against his choice as you sit as a block at the AGM. Even though it is a secret ballot, the chairperson ensures that all his delegates are voting for his preferred candidate,” Kaudza Masina said.
Fam Electoral Committee Chairperson, Justice Sylvester Kalembera, said it was up to the affiliates and stakeholders to push for electoral reforms at the association’s general assembly.
The most talked about elections race is between Fam president Walter Nyamilandu, who is vying for a fifth four-year term of office, and first vice-president James Mwenda whereas Jabbar Alide and Daudi Mtanthiko are gunning for the first vice-presidency.
Othaniel Hara (incumbent second vice president) and Lameck Khonje are jostling for second vice-presidency. Nyasulu, Felister Dossi, Chimango Munthali, Muhammad Selemani, Davis Sado, Christopher Kuyera and Rashid Ntelela will race for board membership.