Minister of Sports Francis Kasaila’s has warned Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) to forget about government’s assistance after the association snubbed his advice to reconsider its decision to expel Mwawi Kumwenda.
The influential Australia-based shooter was expelled from Queens’ squad last week Thursday for reporting late and is not part of the team that is scheduled to fly out to Melbourne, Australia Sunday for the Fast5 World Netball Series.
The minister on Friday confirmed having intervened on the issue for the sake of the “nation’s pride”.
He said: “We tried to persuade NAM and I personally intervened because our interest is that the team does well. It is not that we are condoning indiscipline, but I felt we should have found other ways of penalising her considering what is at stake. As a ministry, we have an obligation to see to it that the team does well.”
The minister could not hide his disappointment following NAM’s firm stance.
“If they do not want us to intervene then they [NAM] or FAM should not be coming to us for assistance because the money that they get from government belongs to Malawians,” said Kasaila.
But analyst George Chiusiwa faulted Kasaila for interfering in the issue.
He said: “While most of us blame NAM for the nasty politicking they are into in handling this issue and the militant and retrogressive way they are running our netball game, the conduct of the Sports Minister should be condemned in the strongest terms possible. Such actions undermine the independence of the sports associations. Why can’t government let such matters be handled by designated bodies such as Malawi National Sports Council?
“Why do we have the Sports Council in the first place? This council has been sleeping on the job for far too long. Little wonder NAM and the “brother”, the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) have both lost direction. The two associations are now working as political parties. But that doesn’t necessitate the unnecessary interference of the government when there are jurisdictional bodies to look into that. And even a committee of eminent people in netball would have sorted out this Mwawi [Kumwenda] saga. Why should government play politics everywhere? This is unfortunate and deplorable.”
Chiusiwa condemned the minister for his threats.
“Turning to the threats that NAM and FAM shouldn’t seek help from government and his ministry when the two are in dire straits, it’s imperative that officers in his ministry should advise the minister on decorum when handling these matters. A semblance of diplomacy, civility and etiquette is required from Cabinet ministers on public policy matters like sports development.
“We are not happy with NAM and FAM in their running of our netball and football. There is a lot more rot at these two bodies than what government often reacts to. But government’s playing politics over the same is not welcome and progressive either. These associations need proper policy direction which government should improve on.”
NAM general secretary Carol Bapu refused to comment on the matter.
“I cannot talk anything on that. We should be talking about the players that have been chosen for the tournament,” she said.
Bapu said Mwawi’s issue somehow affected the players, “but we are thankful to Sports Council for their support and the girls are raring to go”.
The squad that is travelling to Australia tomorrow is as follows:
Defenders: Joanna Kachilika (C), Caroline Ngwira, Laureen Ngwira and Martha Dambo.
Attackers: Thandie Galeta, Takondwa Lwazi.
Shooters: Jane Chimaliro(VC), Joyce Mvula, Jessie Sanudi, and Alinafe Kamwala.
Mary Waya-head coach, Griffin Michael Saenda-assistant coach, Agness Chaima-team manager, Gertrude Chilemba- team doctor.