Lawn Tennis Association of Malawi (LTAM) elected a new executive committee on Saturday, but the polls, held at Lilongwe Golf Club, were a mess as security guards, golf caddies and eight-year olds took part.
The LTAM constitution does not restrict anyone from voting during the body’s elections as it states that everyone is free to cast a vote as long as they are paid-up members.
As a result, some candidates took advantage of this loophole by paying membership fees for “strangers” and hiring outsiders, to vote for them.
Titani Muwalo, who was Ltam’s interim president, beat former general secretary Chris Kachale 65-31 to take the hot-seat but both sides accused each other of hiring outsiders during the elections.
“The elections were a total mess; just imagine my opponent hired some security guards at the venue of the polls to vote for him,” said Kachale in an interview yesterday.
“It was a shame to note that he paid membership fees for over 50 unknown individuals, but there was nothing we could do about it because the constitution says everyone can vote as long as they pay membership fee [K1 000].”
Kachale said he suggested that the polls should come after a constitutional amendment to make sure only those involved with tennis should cast their ballots but the other faction refused.
On the other hand, Muwalo, while admitting refusing the constitution review on the basis that the former GS did not circulate the document to all the members before the polls as per the requirement, claimed that he also saw golf caddies and junior tennis players—as young as eight years old—from Kachale’s camp taking part in the voting process.
“The constitution clearly says every paid-up member should vote and I do not think it is proper to start finger-pointing. Kachale brought caddies and eight-year olds to vote, who stopped him?” Muwalo wondered.
However, he said they will organise an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in the next few weeks to review their statutes, “because it is true that the constitution is somehow outdated.”
Meanwhile, Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) executive secretary George Jana has ordered LTAM to amend their constitution by June 2016.
“We noted this constitutional weakness during the LTAM elections but we could not stop them because they agreed as an association to hold the polls first. As you know, we are now in a democratic world, what could we do? But we have told them to call for constitution review by June to clear this mess,” said Jana.
During the elections, Grey Mang’anda, Stan Kaunda and Wilson Kyumba were ushered into office unopposed as vice-president, general secretary and treasurer, respectively while Jacob Lipenga outclassed Wilson Paul to take the vice general secretary seat. Committee members are Davie Ndhlovu, Judith Bester, Victor Paul and Gift Kayiwalika.