A section of Malawi Queens and top-flight netball club players are demanding constitutional amendment so as to reclaim their voting rights at the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) elections.
Previously, representatives of teams had voting powers along with chairpersons of regional committees, national coaches committees, national umpires committees and the outgoing elected executive committee members but the former, who comprised netballers, were replaced by chairpersons of the country’s 28 district netball committees during the constitutional amendment in 2012.
According to voting procedures on article 21.2 of the current constitution, which was adopted on June 27, 2012, “each district netball committee shall, subject to this constitution, be entitled to one vote at Annual General Meetings (AGM).”
The players argue that the statutes should be re-amended to give back the voting powers to “those that sweat on the netball field to vote during the next elective general assembly in 2017.”
The players, who laid their frustrations bare on a Facebook netball group but pleaded with Nation On Sunday not to reveal their real names at present, added that it does not make sense to have chairpersons from all the 28 district voting when the sport is active in less than 10 districts.
“How can you leave out people that are actively involved with netball on the ground and replace them with dormant district chairpersons that do not even know national team players? We know this was just a ploy to silence us people that feel the pinch of their maladministration and have the ‘yes-bwana’ type of people who could be easily manipulated and keep them in office for eternity,” said one of the Queens players.
“We tried to ask them why they made the changes without consulting us but they said we could get back to the statutes after the elections. Nevertheless, we have not been called to sort out that issue up to now when the constitution is operational.”
Another member of the group said: “…there must be a proper voting procedure, not taking everybody in the name of district committee chairperson. We need to first find out how many districts are active in terms of competitive netball.”
NAM president Rosy Chinunda admitted on Saturday that they removed team representatives from the list of voters, saying the arrangement caused chaos during elections.
“The previous law was making it difficult to define eligible voters because some people with hidden agendas took advantage of this edict to form teams anyhow and demand the voting rights. Moreover, we could not have a standard number of teams. But with district committee chairpersons, we definitely know the exact number of voters,” she said.
Chinunda also quashed allegations that most districts are dormant saying if that was the case then competitions such as the Presidential and the Airtel Money Netball Championships could not be throwing off at district level.
“Sometimes it is not on to start an argument when you are ignorant of certain issues. These people must speak the truth. Netball is for all Malawians and each district is supposed to have a voting right,” she said.
In spite of that, Sports Council’s executive secretary George Jana said if indeed the netball players are serious about the constitutional amendment, they should convince district committees and decide on the manageable number of team representatives to vote.
He, however, said that the council’s role in this case is not to call for such amendments, but provide advice to concerned parties.
The NAM executive was ushered into office in 2013. Their four-year tenure will expire in 2017. Chinunda has been the body’s president for three consecutive terms.