Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda has appealed for patience from the football fraternity, saying sports will resume once the Covid-19 positivity rate, which on Tuesday stood at about eight percent, drops to below five percent.
In an interview yesterday, the minister, who is also Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson, said they are still assessing the situation on the ground.
She said: “We are aware how the sports industry has suffered, but we have not forsaken them.
“We are in receipt of FAM’s proposed guidelines and on Monday we met officials from the Ministry of Youth and Sports to discuss the same.
“But for now, let them bear with us. We want to analyse the situation up to next Tuesday then we will review the guidelines if the positivity rate drops to five percent or less then sports can resume and considering the slump in cases, we are hopeful.
“We are hopeful. We just need to have a proper direction.”
The minister also said she was aware that some people are planning to demonstrate against the task force’s delay to respond to the proposal to waive the restriction on public gatherings to 50 people in football.
“But I want to assure them that the issue is being seriously looked into. We are on the same page,” said Chiponda.
She also said approving the waiver on football only could create chaos “as others would also come up with similar demands”.
Chiponda said: “So, we just have to come up with a general resolution.”
In a separate interview, Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama said he also raised the sports resumption issue when he met Chiponda on Tuesday.
He said: “I told the minister that we need to resume sports. I actually informed her that in some countries sports is returning with supporters and we can as well resume football without spectators for the time being.
“Actually, the reality on the ground is that football is being played in the communities and it is only elite football that is suffering. We need to get started and avoid the unnecessary demonstrations being planned.”
Msungama said of great concern are preparations for the national football team ahead of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
“We need players that are fit for such crucial matches,” he said.
Meanwhile, football players who are planning to demonstrate against the delay to restart football say there plans are still intact.
Football Players Association (FPA) general secretary Ernest Mangani said: “We respect the authorities and if we get official communication from Super League of Malawi or Football Association of Malawi on this, we will not proceed with demonstrations.
“If we do not get response this week then we will express our cry to the nation through nationwide peaceful demonstrations.
“May be through that, we will be heard and, most importantly, be given responses to our communication.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said they are still eagerly waiting for a response from government.