Newly appointed Minister of Youth and Sports, Ulemu Msungama, was unapologetic Thursday as he openly cautioned Football Association of Malawi (Fam) president Walter Nyamilandu against actively engaging in partisan politics.
Msungama was in Blantyre for a familiarisation tour that also took him to Malawi National Council of Sports offices and Blantyre Youth Centre.
Speaking at Fam’s Mpira Village where he toured various development projects under the association, the Malawi Congress Party legislator said Nyamilandu should know better that his position demanded that he should be nonpartisan.
Sitting just a metre away from the Fam boss, Msungama, dressed in a black suit, a white shirt and a red neck tie, sent Sydney Chikafa Hall into dead silence when he told Nyamilandu in the face that he was disappointed with his involvement in politics.
“We expected you to concentrate on redeeming Malawi football from the doldrums. Our football has gone down right from the TNM Super League to the national teams. This is not witch hunting. We saw you wearing a party beret and, under your leadership, we also saw Fam sponsoring the presentation of [Democratic Progressive Party] presidential nomination papers last year.
“This is very disappointing and not right in the face of football lovers. I would like to tell you Mr president that I supported you in 2015 when you were campaigning because you had developed a very good manifesto. But today, Malawians are disappointed with you for contributing to the downfall of football in the country,” Msungama said.
The Minister reiterated that the government is looking forward to developing football by continuing to work with Fam.
“The head of state [President Lazarus Chakwera] wants to see the national team delivering results as opposed to what is happening now. The current situation is untenable. We must do something about it. I am also a keen follower of football and it hurts to see our national teams failing to deliver,” he said.
In his response, Nyamilandu said he has never harboured any political ambitions.
“I would not love to be drawn into a debate with the minister because he is my boss. We talked about these issues at his office in Lilongwe one-on-one. All I can say is that I am not a politician. I am just striving to develop football in the country. So let us all put the matter to rest,” he said.
On the dwindling standards of football in the country, Nyamilandu said he will focus on working with the government to ensure that results start coming through.
“We have, for years, been working on developing under-17, under-20, under-23 and senior national teams. The focus now should be on producing results and with the commitment the government is showing, I believe we will get there,” the Fifa Council member said.
Nyamilandu retained his position after defeating his former vice James Mwenda during elections held late last year in Mangochi District.
The poll was hotly contested with various stakeholders openly speaking against Nyamilandu’s fourth term. However, affiliates maintained their trust in their leader and gave him another mandate.
During campaign for the annulled 2019 presidential elections, Nyamilandu was closely linked with Democratic Progressive Party and its president, Peter Mutharika.
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.