Nationwide demonstrations against Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) forced Central Region Football Association (CRFA) to cancel 10 Chipiku League matches scheduled for yesterday amid fears they could have put the lives of players and spectators at risk.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) held nationwide demonstrations calling for Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah’s resignation over the May 21 Tripartite Elections alleged rigging in favour of the governing Democratic Progressing Party (DPP).
In an interview yesterday, CRFA vice-general secretary Antonio Manda said they communicated to the clubs about the cancellation on Wednesday, a day before the games were to be played.
“We have the welfare of players and teams at heart, so we don’t want to have our teams become victims of circumstances, hence, the postponement,” he said
Asked why they took long to decide on the cancellation, Manda said they did not anticipate that the demonstrations would be volatile until some Lilongwe residents blocked roads and burned tyres on the eve of the protests.
“We wanted to analyse the situation first. What was witnessed around Lilongwe City on Wednesday afternoon forced us to make that hasty decision,” he said.
Manda said the cancellation affected their plan to finish the league early August.
“The implication is that the players won’t have enough time to rest before the second round kicks off,” he said.
Reacting to the development, Mchinji-based Extreme FC, which is among the affected clubs, has welcomed the decision to postpone the games.
Their coach Hastings Chilunga said: “We were scheduled to play Likuni Stars away. That would mean travelling to Lilongwe where most of the roads are blocked during such demonstrations. We are pleased with the association’s stand.”