The race for the presidency of Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Monday reached an interesting stage with a group of about 20 fans invading Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) offices at BAT Ground in Blantyre to present a petition asking the regional body to endorse Walter Nyamilandu.
Ironically, the group was led by Kalowe Ajasi, who organised protests calling for the firing of former Malawi national football team coach Ronny van Geneugden and the resignation of Nyamilandu late last year.
Ajasi said they would approach other affiliates to garner support for the incumbent Fam boss, who is yet to declare his candidature.
“We believe Walter is the best man for the job. He has achieved more than any other Fam president. He took the Flames to the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola, has initiated several projects, is developing football and has the confidence of sponsors.
“Our football would not have been where it is now had it not been for him. Are we serious that we can ditch a whole Fifa executive council member just because of certain aspirants who have never been tried before? Let us not make mistakes in our choices,” he said.
Asked why he had changed tune to back Nyamilandu, Ajasi said the reasons he was advancing were no longer there.
“My campaign was for Geneugden to go. I was demanding that, if Nyamilandu did not fire the national coach, then he should also go. But now that Geneugden is gone, there is no reason for Nyamilandu to go. There is no statute which stops him from standing again,” he said.
SRFA officials, led by Chairperson Raphael Humba, received the petition and promised to deliberate on the matter.
General secretary, Dyles Kachala, said they could not immediately respond to the petition as Nyamilandu was yet to declare his candidature.
“The Fam president has not told us whether he is standing or not, so we cannot give an immediate response. We will meet to map the way forward on the matter. This is democracy and the fans have the right to approach us with their views. We cannot stop them,” Kachala said.
The development comes after Northern Region Football Association endorsed Nyamilandu’s second-in-command, James Mwenda, for the elections which are scheduled for December.
Last week, there were reports that Central Region Football Association had also endorsed Mwenda but the regional body later released a letter stating that the reports were untrue.
Mwenda said there was nothing wrong in Nyamilandu’s followers canvasing for votes.
“Nyamilandu is a Malawian and has every right to seek re-election. That is all I can say for now,” he said.
At the height of protests against his reign last year, Nyamilandu asked protesters to calm down as he only had months to the end of his tenure and declared that he would not seek re-election.
About three months ago, the Fam boss said he would announce his position on contesting for the hot seat soon.
This sparked the reaction of some protesters who wore T-shirts and carried banners and placards during the Airtel Top 8 final at Bingu National Stadium in June, asking Nyamilandu to leave the stage.
But Nyamilandu told them off, saying he would not be bullied into making a hasty decision.
This was followed by counter-demonstrations during several matches at Kamuzu Stadium, asking Nyamilandu to stand again.