Veteran athletics coach Francis Munthali and disgruntled Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) vice-treasurer John Mwathiwa have torn into the body, accusing its executive committee of interfering with national team selection and mismanagement of funds.
But AAM general secretary Frank Chitembeya downplayed the accusations in an interview yesterday, describing them as baseless.
Munthali claims that the AAM executive committee has a tendency of going overboard to select national team athletes, a development he believes shows lack of confidence in the technical staff.
Currently, 18 athletes are in camp in Lilongwe in preparation for international competitions, including the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“What is the use of having a technical panel when it is the executive that selects athletes for international events?
“It is the duty of the technical staff to select athletes for international events and it is high time such irregularities are stopped to avoid continued embarrassment of the nation on the international stage,” Munthali was quoted as saying on Times Radio on Monday.
On his part, Mwathiwa, who claimed AAM sidelines him in its operations, said he wondered why AAM always claims not to have enough funds for national team camps “yet they get at least K29 million grant annually from the world athletics governing body IAAF; K18 million in January and K11 million in June”.
On Munthali’s accusations, Chitembeya said the association does not interfere in selection as they just officially release names that the technical panel, which is headed by AAM vice-president Emmanuel Mlonya, provides.
“For your information, we only work with a panel of three local coaches that are affiliated with the IAAF, namely Precious Chigoneka, Pachisi Nyasulu and Leonard Dzanja when identifying national team athletes with the vice-president as the technical head,” he said.
“Munthali is not aware of how we operate as we stopped recognising him as a coach in 2017.”
On funding, Chitembeya said they continue to struggle as they get insufficient funds after government, through the Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS), stopped giving them annual subvention two years ago.
“We need at least K49 million annually for our operations but we still try our best to survive despite getting insufficient funds,” he said.
When asked why they sideline their vice-treasurer in their operations, Chitembeya said: “Mwathiwa chose to be out of the system and we cannot force him to be one of us.”
Malawi athletes have been performing poorly in prestigious international competitions such as the Commonwealth Games where the country has not finished within the medal winning bracket since 1986. The trend continued last year in Gold Coast, Australia where the country’s seven flag-carriers flopped. n