Protests aimed at forcing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to step down have led to the postponement of the annual Bravehearts International Basketball Tournament.
Apart from Malawi, the tournament, which was scheduled for August 22 at African Bible College (ABC) in Lilongwe, was expected to attract teams from Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya.
Part of a statement from the organisers, co-signed by Daudi Hussein and KudaZvarewa dated August 12, reads: “This unfriendly decision has been agreed to after the continued disputed [May 21] related presidential election results. Lately, the protests have turned violent, injuring people, looting, damaging cars etc.
“So, for this reason, we have no choice but to postpone the tournament to a later date as safety of everyone coming to the tournament and getting into Malawi, is one of our priorities. We will, however, keep everyone posted on the way forward as we cannot give a new date until the situation improves.”
Nevertheless, Bravehearts communications manager Deliwe Lungu said the sponsor [Griffin Kalua] is committed to the tournament.
“He has assured that the tournament will take place once the situation improves,” she said.
G.Y Imports and Exports, Dr. Print, NewTech and Bravehearts Trading jointly sponsor the event which was won by Matero Magics from Zambia in men’s category and Bravehearts Ladies from Malawi in ladies section last year.
Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal) president Hamlet Kamtengeni described the development as a setback.
“It is a setback because teams had prepared for the tournament and as an association, we thought it would have given local teams a chance for exposure. This means we will have to wait further before we assess the levels of basketball in Malawi at Sadc level.
“That said, we cannot do much since out there, the political unrest is being hugely amplified and most teams are not comfortable to travel,” he said.
Coincidentally, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition announced at a news conference in Lilongwe on Tuesday that they will shut down the country’s major airports and border posts to force Ansah to resign. The five-day shutdown is slated for August 26 to 30 2019.