Bizarre coin-toss decision used to break tie for post of chairperson at Northern Region Netball Committee election

Allan Nkhonjera was declared chairperson of Northern Region Netball Committee through a bizarre decision of a coin-toss after failing to tie-break of the results against contender, Tamara Fweta.

In the first run, both contestants earned 8 votes apiece and a re-run still did not break the tie and according to sources, it was obvious that it was going to remain the same even if more re-runs were to have been conducted under the supervision of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

When contacted, Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary, Isaac Chimwala said was not present at the election but when he was informed of the development, he had first advised NAM president, Abigail Shariff present there to break the tie.

Tamara Fweta tosses the coin as Nkhonjera (right) looks on

“The elections were being overseen by MEC, who were suggesting that maybe they should be postponed for the two to make fresh campaigns and contest at a later date.

“But after going through the NAM constitution, I discovered that such a scenario was not interpreted,” Chimwala said. “So, I advised the president to break the tie since she was the presiding officer but she declined — obviously because she would have been seen to have favored any of the two.

“Then I looked at Article 4.4 of our constitution which said a decision of such nature can only be made at the consensus of the gathering and after more consultations — that included Malawi National Council of Sports — the coin-toss by each of the two contestants was decided as way forward.

“It was obvious that it was either Nkhonjera or Fweta who were being favored to lead the league’s administration and so the coin-toss by the two was the logical way forward.

“This decision was agreed upon by the gathering as stipulated in Article 4.4 of the constitution that any such decision which is not interpreted by the constitution should be agreed on by the stakeholders present.

“Thus it was decided and Nkhonjera was declared the winner and the decision was upheld by the gathering,” Chimwala said.

The turn for Nkhonjera

It seems the reluctance for the NAM president to break the tie was because Fweta was up against a male contestant and either way Shariff would have been judged to have favoured any of the two because of gender and not from their manifestos.

Before the regional elections — both for the Centre and the North — there was some debate on netball fraternity’s social media groups that male contestants were dominant for both regions.

From the Northern Region results, Donnis Phiri (female) went in as vice-chairperson unopposed while Ken Phiri beat fellow male, Peter Banda 16-0 for the post of secretary.

Another male Lumbani Ng’ambi was voted as vice-secretary (unopposed) while two females contested for post of treasurer that went to Jane Chiumia — beating Cathy Sharme by 10-6 with Soyape Mwale going in unopposed as vice-treasurer.

Committee members had Killy Msukwa (16); Stephano Kaunda (14); Ella Mhone (10); Alick Mhone (9); Fanny Kumwenda (8) and Bridget Mkandawire (7).

Central Region chairperson is Cecilia Mtukule-Bongwe (13 votes), beating two men, Fanuel Katengeza (2) and John Muhajiri (5) while male Fernando Ligola beat Noella Kamwendo by 11-9 for the post of vice-chairperson.

Secretary is male Yamikani Kauma (15) who beat Lizzie Nyirenda (5) while Daniel C. Nyirenda took up post of treasurer by beating fellow male Fanuel Banda 16-4.

Treasurer is Trisser Mailosi (female) unopposed with male Aaron Gopani being considered as vice-treasurer (18) against Grace Sifa Banda (1) and Pilirani Chibwana (1).

Committee members that contested were Matrilda Chibwe (20); Gloria Malopa (19); Liness Kamanga (15); Blessings Chalemera (14) and Beatrice Tomoka (11).

Following this bizarre coin-tossing decision, there was some debate on the sport’s social media group questioning and condemning it.

One top official confided with this reporter that “there should have a better mechanism to break the tie” and suggested that since sometimes officials don’t foresee such occurrences not covered in the constitution, there should be some way to amend some clauses to avoid them happening at national level.

Another said if this coin-toss decision stands, then a precedence has been set which could be accommodated as of now as a “means of breaking a tie — that is for netball”.

Another commentator was felt aggrieved that men are being ridiculed for eyeing “leadership positions in this beautiful women’s game”, saying: “Let’s just try to ask ourselves a simple question, why do we find men in the game?

“Some of us have tried to mobilize women to come in and take leading positions but they shy out. Just go to Chiradzulu — an objective research can bring out findings.

“We have endured all the shame in associating ourselves in this game. We have endured insults left, right and center. But because we would like to see improved netball standards in our remote settings, we move on.

“There are some women who patronise the game but are not willing to lead. However, it’s our responsibility to start empowering women in our districts to come forward to lead the game.”

The commentator urged the media in particular that it “can play a vital role in achieving this goal by being objective and sensitive enough. Osati kukhalira kutipeputsa ndi kutinyodola (don’t just ridicule us).”

He also suggested that a re-run should be considered for the Northern Region election, saying “sizinayendepo apa (this doesn’t seem professional enough”.

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