To believe his apologists, Walter Nyamilandu is the glue that holds our football together. Were he to leave the stage, our football would collapse; hence, should continue serving as our football czar as long as his mental and physical faculties allow him.
But this is a lie so those who are selling that lie are liars. But no one here is lying more than Nyamilandu himself in quest to maintain his grip on power. For close to a year, Nyamilandu has let all and sundry believe that he is not going to run for a fifth-term as Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president.
He was convincing in interviews and sounded sincere as he stated the reasons why finally he was leaving after 15 years in charge. “I have made enough contribution,” he has repeatedly stated while secretly planning another go.
But as days edged closer to the December elections, Nyamilandu started showing his hand: announcement of his own football academy and then a major sponsorship deal for the game. When he finally revealed he was contesting again to “raise the bar,” no one was entirely surprised.
This was a classic Nyamilandu move. Keep anyone in the dark and sound and convincing about intentions to depart the scene. Then finally drop the news that you, actually, aren’t going anywhere.
And his team of apologists quickly remind you that he is eligible to contest anyway so no one should raise any issues and the matter should be left in the hands of affiliates, whom one suspect, will once again vote for another Nyamilandu term.
Well, we have story for Nyamilandu and his apologists. First, it must be on record that Nyamilandu’s campaign is all pegged on lies. The first lie, obviously, is about how he played us all for fools by claiming that he was finally retiring from office only to back stab his own deputy who, too, was made to believe Nyamilandu was sincere and this time around he would not walk back on his words as he has often done.
The second lie, is that Nyamilandu is a star performer and if he left, our game would be in a shambles.
To back this lie, they claim that Nyamilandu is responsible for all the mega construction work we have witnessed at the FAM headquarters in Chiwembe. What these jesters will not tell you is that the mini stadium, the office complex and housing components of the infrastructure facelift at Chiwembe are part of a package from Fifa.
They are a donation to us and we are not the only poor country that received them. They could have been there whether the FAM president was Nyamilandu, Fischer Kondowe, Kinnah Phiri or any other name you can think of.
Yet that is not to say Nyamilandu has not achieved anything. He has brought some sanity in football administration and won the trust of the corporate world. But that doesn’t mean anyone else can’t do his job.
If anything, the performance of the Flames reminds us all that Nyamilandu is overrated. In the 15 years he has been at the helm, the Flames have qualified to one solitary African Cup of Nations final, yet Nyamilandu has hired and fired coaches willy-nilly to no impact.
We will not bring up the lie of a promise that he made in one of his campaigns, that by end of his tenure, the Flames would qualify to Afcon.
Well, his apologists on the above point become very funny as they point out that Nyamilandu is not responsible for the team selection or the technical aspect of the game, but just administration. But we know better!
And now that we have made it clear that Nyamilandu has nothing special in his strides and at best has been an average leader, the most compelling reason we all should be sceptical in general about his continued grip on the game.
Why is Nyamilandu so nervous about leaving? With all the match-fixing and the gate collection scandals we have heard during his tenure, where on earth does Nyamilandu, and his apologists, get the audacity to attempt to be life president?
Whether Nyamilandu has any skeletons he is trying to hide by keeping his grip on the game or not, one thing is clear, his job is a very lucrative one. And at Fifa, he has even landed on an even more lucrative position, but whose security cannot be guaranteed once he leaves FAM.
So let us cut Nyamilandu some crap and tell it as it is: His quest for continued office has nothing to do with developing the game. If anything, he has been given enough time to make his contribution to mixed ends. What this quest for continued grip of FAM is, is a selfish campaign prompted by greed, nothing else.
And there is a reason why FAM affiliates overwhelmingly voted to end open terms at FAM. It’s the same reason our parliament rejected Bakili Muluzi’s third-term bid. Some positions give incumbents too much power that elections stop providing checks and balances or act as possible avenue to remove unwanted leaders.