It does not rain, but pours heavily for Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and now it seems it is pouring ‘mad cats and dogs’ at the beleaguered national soccer governing body as the remaining and only member of the Appeals Committee, corporate lawyer George Bakuwa has also finally thrown in the towel and quit his position on grounds of personal integrity.
Bakuwa is the third and final piece of the jigsaw puzzle to FAM’s legal woes following his resignation from the organisation barely 24 hours after the Appeals Committee chair Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Justice Lovemore Chikopa and another member, private practice lawyer, Patrice Nkhono resigned due to what they cited as lack of good governance and failure to adhere to the establishment’s set rules and regulations.
Tendering his resignation through a very brief email addressed to FAM Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sugzo Nyirenda and copied to Chikopa and Nkhono, Bakuwa simply said he was resigning for “obvious reasons”.
“Suzgo, for obvious reasons I also find my continued membership of the committee unsustainable in the circumstances. Kindly accept my resignation as well, with immediate effect,” reads the email in totality.
FAM now has no Appeals Committee members after all the three learned legal minds have resigned from the organisation and among other things Justice Chikopa said he received a barrage of insults from some executive members from the Football Association.
The brusque en-masse tendering of resignations of the three lawyers however put FAM’s integrity to test and pushed the organisation’s reputation further deep into question.
FAM’s Appeals Committee last Saturday ruled that the elections of new office bearers be deferred after two presidential hopefuls Wilkins Mijiga and Willy Yabwanya Phiri and Tiya Nsomba who was vying for the office of first vice presidency complained that the executive committee members had contravened the national FA’s electoral codes.
Mijiga, Willy Yabwanya-Phiri and Tiya Somba-Banda, obtained an injunction from the High Court in Blantyre restraining FAM and its delegates from holding the polls but the injunction was later vacated.
‘Repudiation of Validity’
The elections which, however, were nearly marred by a hullabaloo that encircled around the supposedly flouted and contravened FAM electoral codes, rules and regulations, and were almost stopped from taking place, in an act of defiance and what is seen as a disregard and repudiation of the Appeals Committee’s legitimacy and validity finally took place and saw the MacMillan Walter Nyamilandu carry the day home holding on to his seat after trouncing two challengers who are said to have indicated their intention to step out.
Both Mijiga Willy Yabwanya and Nsomba Banda complained to the Appeals Committee that there was a contravention of FAM statues and that FAM disobeyed the electoral codes and their appeal was allowed and subsequently, Chikopa ruled that the elections could not take place amid such contraventions suggesting that the elections be held at a later date after all the ‘issues’ were ironed out.
The Appeals Committee members feels that their validity was rejected after their decision which was supposed to be final was ignored and disrespected and therefore there is no need for them to carry on offering their services.
“It is obvious to my mind firstly that my understanding of good governance and the operations of the appeals committee is not the same as that which the FAM executive committee or most of its members have. Secondly that there are some in the FAM executive committee who do not understand that it is possible to hold divergent views without having to indulge in gratuitous insults,” Justice Chikopa said in his resignation.
The learned judge of Appeal said it is impossible for him to continue offering his services as chair of FAM’s appeals committee in those circumstances.
While on his part Patrice Nkhono said that FAM’s approach was incomprehensible.
Said Nkhono: “It is my understanding that the approach taken by FAM executive committee following the decision of the appeals committee on the elections last Saturday, was to ignore that decision and to proceed with the elections. Apparently, this was what compelled the appellants to seek judicial intervention.”
Nkhono added that it is his view that such course of action represented repudiation by the FAM executive committee of the validity of the appeals committee of which he is a member.
He explained he cannot continue with an organisation that does not respect its own statues, rules and regulations declaring; “I cannot in good conscience continue as though that repudiation meant nothing. I therefore join Justice Chikopa in tendering my resignation from the FAM appeals committee with immediate effect and request that this is brought to the attention of the executive committee.”
Meanwhile, Yabwanya and Mijiga are seeking redress from the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) for intervention in Switzerland over what they call flawed Saturday’s elections that re-elected the country longest serving president, MacMillan Walter Nyamilandu.
“We did not want to be part of a flawed electoral process. The appeals’ committee said the elections had to be suspended until the irregularities were sorted out. The whole process contravened the rule of soccer, which is about fair play,” Mijiga told Nyasa Times earlier this week.
Meanwhile, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu has however appealed for unity to all stalk holders in the country for what he describes as “for the good of the game and for development of the sport.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :