Walter Nyamilandu, the president of the Football Association of Malawi (FAM), has defended his unsuccessful attempt to disqualify Fleetwood Haiya as a presidential candidate during the Annual General Meeting on December 16 in Mzuzu.
Nyamilandu, the incumbent president, lodged an appeal, represented by his legal team Makiyi, Kanyenda & Associates, contesting Haiya’s nomination. The argument centered on Haiya’s supposed violation of Article 39 (3) of the electoral code due to his roles as the Super League of Malawi (Sulom) president and a director at FCB Nyasa Bullets.
In a recent interview, Nyamilandu clarified that his actions were rooted in the electoral code’s stipulations regarding holding multiple positions, rather than being motivated by a fear of facing Haiya in the election.
He said: “Notwithstanding the resolution that has been taken by the electoral appeals committee, I would like to state that I am more than fired up to defend my position as the president of FAM.
“My actions to appeal should not be misinterpreted as a sign of weakness, but rather as a gesture of boldness to stand for justice against the oppressed and to defend the statutes that govern Malawi football.”
Nyamilandu said the electoral committee had missed an opportunity to address a contentious issue of candidates holding multiple positions.
He said: “It remains unethical for a proposed leader to hold multiple positions in football because he will be compromised and conflicted when making key decisions relating to the club or member organisation where he has vested interests.
“The fact remains that while Mr Fleetwood Haiya is the director of Nyasa Bullets and president of Sulom, he is at the same time vying for the position of FAM president. This is unethical and in contravention of Article 39 that deals with eligibility of candidates that are aspiring to be executive members of FAM.”
Article 39 (h) of the FAM costitution says: “[An executive member ] shall not at the same time hold any position in a member or any club subordinate to a member except for those representing the National Women’s Football Association or the Super League of Malawi.”
But Haiya is an ex-officio member of the FAM executive by virtue of being Sulom president.
In an interview yesterday, Haiya thanked the electoral committee for throwing out the appeal.
He said: “Outrightly, we thank God for fighting our battles. Furthermore, we are delighted that the electoral appeals committee applied the principles guiding the elective assembly without fear of favour.
“It remains our prayer that the spirit continues until the will of the affiliates is delivered on December 16.”
Nyamilandu’s appeal was dismissed on technicality, since the electoral code Article 12 (2) provides for three days for filing appeals after the announcement of list of candidates.
“FAM elections committee has no powers to change the FAM electoral code, as such, faced with this apparent conflict between the press release and the FAM electoral code, Mr. Walter Nyamilandu Manda knew or ought to have known that the press release must yield to the electoral code,” reads part of a statement from the committee signed by its chairperson James Masumbu.
Meanwhile, Nyamilandu’s appeal and subsequent dismissal by the electoral committee has drawn mixed reactions.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda hailed the electoral committee’s decision, saying barring Haiya would have had far-reaching consequences.
He said: “Let’s imagine that his appeal was successful, how was he [Nyamilandu] going to work with associations which nominated Haiya? He needs to look at the bigger picture. Let him face Haiya on the ballot. If he wins, fine if he loses fine as well. The will of the affiliates should not be trampled upon.”
But another soccer analyst Patrick Zgambo said Nyamilandu’s grounds are solid, saying electoral committee was sleeping on its job.
He said: “Nyamilandu’s grounds are solid and can only be dismissed on a technicality. The people who accepted his [Haiya] nomination have an egg in there face because in this moment, Nyamilandu’s petition may only be rejected on a technicality otherwise those arguments are solid.”
But in previous elections, several candidates have been elected to FAM executive positions despite belonging to the associations’ affiliates.