Some Football Association of Malawi (FAM) affiliates have confessed that they nominated presidential candidates based on verbal promises and track records rather than manifestos, which are essential guiding tools.
Super League of Malawi (Sulom), which contributes the highest number of delegates to the FAM general assembly (eight), has disclosed that it endorsed presidential hopeful Wilkins Mijiga chiefly to promote competition during the December 12 elections.
The revelations come after it has been established that Chikwawa United sponsor Owen Chomanika was the only aspirant who circulated his manifesto to the affiliates during the nomination process which closed on Friday. Ironically, he did not get a nomination.
Sulom president Innocent Bottomani said his team noted that the elections would not make sense if only two candidates contested.
When the executive committee of Sulom, the last affiliate to nominate aspirants, met two weeks ago to endorse a candidate, incumbent president Walter Nyamilandu and Karonga United sponsor Willy Yabwanya Phiri were the only endorsed presidential aspirants.
“Manifestos were not our key priority. Firstly, we wanted to ensure that the affiliates have a pool of candidates to choose from.
“So we looked at the track records of the aspirants, mostly those that had not been nominated and we settled for Mijiga. We believe that this will make the elections healthy,” Bottomani said.
On his part, the National Football Referees Committee (NFRC) general secretary Chris Kalichero said in the absence of the manifestos, they just analysed the aspirants’ contribution to football.
“We settled for Yabwanya Phiri because despite being based in Canada, he continues to support Malawian football by sponsoring Karonga United,” he said
“Additionally, we have been told that he plans to construct a stadium in Karonga. These are the people that can improve football.”
Meanwhile, Southern Region Football Committee (SRFC) chairperson Raphael Humba said they endorsed Nyamilandu “for the sake of continuity and stability because you don’t change a winning team.
“Walter has steered the ship safely over the years and weathered the storm. It is his impressive track record that has swayed us.”
On his part, chairperson of Central Region Football Committee (CRFC) Austin Ajawa said: “We didn’t need to look at what the manifestos said. What we believe in is that football has improved under Nyamilandu. FAM is now a respectable organisation that is well run and there has been a huge investment in infrastructure development.
“The performance of the Flames has improved significantly and they are not whipping boys anymore. The qualification to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations speaks volumes. Look at the cup sponsorships and grassroots football development structures that were not there, but they are there today.
“These are signs that, given another chance, there will be continuity to what he has already started.”
Chairperson of Northern Region Football Committee (NRFC) Lameck Khonje said Nyamilandu shared with his committee highlights of his vision for the game of football which they felt were very impressive.
“He demonstrated to be a visionary leader and to be progressive-minded. Since he has delivered on his promise, we are very confident that given another chance, he will take Malawi football to another level. For us, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t,” he said.
On why he did not issue a manifesto during nomination period, Nyamilandu said he did so because he was still seeking views from affiliates on what should be included.
“When I was selling my ideas to the affiliates on what we plan to do, I was also asking for their input on the other things they thought I should focus on. I wanted to draft a manifesto that should be inclusive and relevant to the needs of the affiliates,” he said.
Nyamilandu has since promised to release his mission statement after the closure of nomination period. He further revealed that the manifesto will focus on commercialisation of the game.
“I don’t want to pre-empt what is in the manifesto, but what I can say is that we want to continue with our mission of commercialising football,” he said.
On his part, Yabwanya Phiri said he was planning to release his manifesto next week.
“I have progressive ideas which I verbally communicated to the affiliates. The ideas are expounded in the manifesto which hopefully will come out next week,” he said.
The Canada-based aspirant said his mission statement will focus on wooing foreign and international investors into football.
Mijiga said he did not issue a documented manifesto, “but my successful track record is there for all to see. You remember I successfully led a campaign to woo the corporate world to support Flames when it was heading to 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.
“I believe Sulom had all this in mind, hence their decision to nominate my name. My dream is to ensure that I continue to market football so that it enjoys support from the corporate world.