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Fam elections versus eligibility question

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Never has, in recent years, the question of eligibility for Football Association of Malawi’s (Fam) presidency stirred so much interest, emotions and frustrations as is the case with the forthcoming December 18 contest.

There are growing frustrations among Fam presidential aspirants over the association’s nine affiliates’ apparent indifference on the need for new blood at Chiwembe Technical and Development Centre.

The ‘interest’ part is what you would expect in any healthy race as that gives electorates a wider pool from which to pick the best candidate.

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The growing interest in the elections is in sharp departure from the past three elections that seemed choreographed.

For a pleasant change, top marketer Wilkins Mijiga, accountant Owen Chomanika, ‘strategist’ Humphreys Mvula, goalkeeping legend Boniface Maganga, administrator Allie Mwachande, corporate executive Kelvin M’mangisa and lawyer John-Gift Mwakhwawa have all rolled up their sleeves against Nyamilandu.

It is not for mere fun that this is billed as the hottest contest for Chiwembe. Football is, without a shed of doubt, a crowd-puller— in every sense of the word.

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But the interest in the Fam presidency is more of a protest. Walter Nyamilandu is standing again for a fourth four-year term and that explains probably why there is so much interest laced with frustrations– if not anger.

With the domestic football ultimate end product, the Flames, still languishing in the jungle of defeats and winless on the road since 2013, coaches fired and hired, very few can disagree. Openly.

After all, Nyamilandu has been at the helm for 11 years, so what else can he achieve in the next four years? These are relevant concerns and questions deserving relevant answers but let us wait until he releases his manifesto.

But after all is said and done, every organisation is guided by its rules. In Fam’s case, it has a constitution, which does no restrict terms of office, but demand that aspiring candidates must earn nominations from the association’s nine affiliates.

Yes, rules and constitutions are made by people and can be changed, but not every Jim and Jack can do that. ‘Unfortunately’ for Fam it is such affiliates and executive committee in office that, with Fifa’s guidelines, decide the constitution.

Ultimately, the affiliates are the custodians of the same.

The general public is at arms’ length.

Sure, most of the candidates want to stand, but they are not even sure of the affiliates’ support.

Truth is you just cannot wake up one morning and contest for an executive committee position at the Confederation of African Football and Fifa. It is the same with Fam. You have to be in the system first.

Perhaps more tellingly, some of the candidates have failed to meet basic requirement of holding a position in any of the affiliates, which make up the annual general meeting (AGM).

“They (candidates) must have already been active in association football for a period of not less than five years (active as a player or official) and must not have been previously convicted in the last seven years of a crime involving dishonesty and moral turpitude. They shall have residence within the territory of Fam,” reads Fam’s constitution.

Mwakhwawa insists, being a lawyer, he understands the interpretation of the constitution better. Mijiga challenges that Fam runs on tax-payers’ hard-earned money, hence the public should be free to contest for the association’s positions.

Mvula, has since leaving the stage as Be Forward Wanderers chairperson over eight years ago, been more aligned to main-stream politics. Maganga and Mwakhwawa are not attached to any Fam affiliate. Mwachande’s football administration track-record appears remote. However, M’mangisa and Chomanika, on paper, qualify to contest.

Fam constitution’s article 22 states that “delegates must belong to the affiliate that they represent and be nominated as such by the appropriate body of that affiliate.”

Each official delegate has a single vote and may not represent more than one affiliate. Candidates must have at least a senior schools certificate of education and be over 35 years.

The AGM comprises 36 delegates; eight from the Super League of Malawi, six each from regional associations for the North, Central and South, the National Women Football Association and two each contributed by the National Football Youth Association, the National Football Coaches Association and National Football Referees Association.

Fam executive committee members fills the remainder. Winner of the elections that also extends to other positions of vice-presidents (two) and executive committee members are decided through, “a majority (more than 50 percent) of the votes recorded and valid is necessary.”

“If there are more than two candidates for a position, the candidate that obtains the lowest number of votes is eliminated as from the second ballot until only two candidates are left,” adds the article.

“Nominations for candidates must reach the general secretariat no later than 30 days before the date of the Ordinary General Assembly at which the elections will take place.”

What is clear is that domestic football family indeed wants change at Fam, but as the association’s former official, George Kaudza Masina, noted, “with the set- up of the affiliates, no one can challenge Walter and succeed. Walter will leave the post out of own free will, not through the ballot.”

It is easy to conclude that most of the candidates failed themselves long time back by not studying Fam constitution and penetrating the closed football set-up. No amount of anger can change things now. Fam elections do not start during elections.

Southern Region Football Association chairperson, Raphael Humba, challenges the candidates to “convince us why we should vote for you. Don’t tell us you want to compete because the incumbent has overstayed. Tell us what you will implement. No one has approached us.”

The Fam election was already decided at the previous assembly that came up with the rules. And only those who formed that rules can change things at Fam. Unfortunately, they do not seem too willing now. It is sad, but true.

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