Contradictions on the legality of coach Kinnah Phiri’s axing and his Flames continued struggles have left the Social and Community Affairs Parliamentary Committee with no choice but to hear from the horse’s mouth—FAM.
In an exclusive interview, the committee’s chairperson Herbert Bimphi confirmed his 19-member Parliament wing will meet Football Association of Malawi (FAM) between now and the next august House sitting on February 8 2013. Such a meeting is a first of its kind in Malawi football history.
“We are particularly concerned about FAM and definitely the going down of our team. We want to know why FAM says it has fired the coach and the ministry says procedures were not followed. We want to know [the truth],” the Ntchisi North MP explained.
“There is also always the problem of funding. Now, we want to appreciate how these things work and see if we can lobby for enough funding. Parliamentary committees have an influence on budgetary funding. We want to know how much they have up to the end of the budget.”
To tackle the sports and Flames challenges, the committee has met Ministry of Youth and Sports officials, including sports director, Jameson Ndalama, and principal secretary II, Justin Saidi.
The committee also grilled the ministry’s officials on Kamuzu Stadium increasing budgetary support which has, over the years, not translated into sound renovations, leading to the recent closure then the subsequent cordoning off the facility.
“Our objective is to know how FAM or other sports associations are working. We will also go to boxing, netball and athletics. We don’t necessary want to demand answers from them, but hear them out,” Bimphi noted.
He said officials from his office met the Sports Council and FAM officials over the proposed meeting. Saidi confirmed meeting the parliamentary committee.
“The meeting with the committee was basically about trying to give them highlights of our achievements in sports, challenges and the way forward,” Saidi said on Thursday.
On Tuesday, FAM vice-president Moses Mkandawire said MPs needed more appreciation that football can put Malawi on the top, thereby boosting other related sectors such as tourism.
“We are the people who face the challenges. Such a meeting can assist in starting a new chapter. Last year, we presented a budget of K200 million (about $588 235), but got K70 million (about $205 882). People do not understand that one trip can cost K15 million (about $44 117) in just air tickets,” said Mkandawire.
Unlike in other countries such as Zambia where football has its vote, Malawi MPs only turns to the Flames in passing. In November, some legislators took Sports Minister Enoch Chihana to task over the Flames dismal showing at the 2012 Cecafa Tusker Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala, Uganda.
Recently, former FAM president John Zingale, who is now an MP, defended the limited contributions on sports in Parliament of MPs with sports background. Zingale said limited time restricts them to make contributions of their constituents’ demands.