The confusion that has rocked the Malawi’s football powerhouse, Big Bullets FC, worsened on Wednesday evening when two rivals camps were involved in ugly violent scenes at their Mandala club house in Blantyre that left some injured.
The violence occurred barely a day after the club’s legends Patrick Mabedi and Peter Mponda cautioned that the situation has the potential to affect the club’s bid for the ultimate Carlsberg Malawi sponsorship.
The fracas lasted for over 20 minutes and, as the situation got out of hand, violence spilled over to Red Cross Bus Stop where passersby and minibus drivers scampered into safety as the two camps pelted each other with missiles.
It all started when a group of the fans led by estranged supporters committee vice-chairperson Isaac Osman, popularly known as ‘Ntopwa 1’, stormed the club to protest against club chairperson Malinda Chinyama’s comments in the Nation newspaper of Wednesday to the effect that what some members of the board of trustees had done to dissolve the executive and supporters committee was unprocedural.
Osman arrived at the club with pomp in the company of 50 supporters, who included Mabvuto Chibambo, who is also in the forefront calling for fresh elections.
“We are very bitter with the remarks made by the chairperson in today’s [Thursday’s The Nation] newspaper because he has even gone to the extent of describing it as total madness when all we want is for justice to prevail.
“Of course, we appreciate the fact that under the leadership of bwana Chinyama the team indeed achieved a lot last season, but that should not distract us from moving further forward. The constitution stipulates that we should be having elections after every two seasons and the incumbent committee was appointed on an interim basis.
“It is not that we are dancing to the tune of the trustees or that we do not like the current executive, but all we want is that the club’s constitution must be followed,” said Osman in his address to the group of fans amid applause.
He also accused the club’s leadership of igniting violence.
“We are all members of the same team, but sadly, we have lost the plot and we are fighting among ourselves because of some members of the current executive. The chairperson is one of those in the forefront of using divide and rule tactics.
“But we shall not fear the truth and we are ready to die for it. If the executive claims that the trustees have no powers to call for elections, then they should tell us who has those powers,” charged Osman.
But no sooner had he finished his address, than the other camp loyal to the current executive committee, led by supporters committee secretary Frank ‘Nyau’ Msiska stormed the club house leading to the havoc.
Pouncing on Osman
The group then pounced on Osman and his group leading to the pandemonium.
Msiska warned this reporter and a photographer not to take pictures, shouting: “Garry zachibwana apa ayi! Osatenga zithunzi, tithana nanu [Garry and your colleague don’t dare to take pictures; otherwise, we’ll deal with you!”
While another fan bluntly told this reporter that: “Mufera za enitu apa achina Garry!”
The club’s staff was forced to close the premises temporarily as the situation got out of hand.
Things normalised only after the group loyal to the trustees was overpowered and was chased from the scene by the rival camp.
However, earlier in the day, ‘Nyau’ argued that neither the trustees nor the supporters had powers to call for fresh elections.
“The constitution is very clear as to who has powers to call for elections and those powers are bestowed in the executive committee.
“Afterall, what is the justification of having fresh elections when the incumbent committee has done extremely well after years of misery? If anything, there is just need to beef up the executive with capable people to assist those that are there,” argued ‘Nyau’.
However, Osman said behind the scenes, the team is going through several problems.
“The picture is not as rosy as it is being painted. Players have not been paid their game bonuses for 12 games and I will be the least surprised if the situation will affect its performance in the coming season,” said Osman.
On Tuesday, Kinnah told the Nation that the trustees had decided to dissolve both the executive and main supporters committee, having considered a recommendation from the zonal supporters committee.
However, Chinyama stated that the trustees do not have such powers.
But a neutral fan Kelvin Chifunda yesterday said: “I can foresee big problems in this team and just like Mabedi and Mponda rightly observed, the situation has the potential to affect the sponsorship bid.
“But having said that, I blame the trustees for the mayhem because, even if they might have a point, the problem is that they would want to be directly involved in the operations of the club which is not a healthy situation at all.”
Police spokesperson for Blantyre Lameck Thembachako confirmed that the incident was brought to the attention of Blantyre Poice Station.
“From what I have gathered, one of the groups reported the matter to the authorities here, but they want it to be sorted out internally,” said Thembachako.
On Sunday, the two camps were involved in physical confrontations that led to the arrest of one fan who was accused of assaulting another fan.