After more than 10 hours of waiting, delegates at Football Association of Malawi (FAM) were visibly worn out on Saturday but when an injunction that was restraining the assembly from holding elections was vacated, they were rejuvenated and eagerly cast their vote to overwhelmingly re-elect Walter Nyamilandu as president in a one-sided poll at Sunbird Nkopola in Mangochi.
But the polls were not without drama and controversy.
Soon after the injunction was vacated, the affiliates could be overheard saying it was payback time for those that halted the elections.
The assembly quickly jumped all the other agendas to the last but one item which was elections.
Like a staged play, Northern Region Football Association (NRFA) chairperson Lameck Khonje jumped from his seat to move a motion that the other items be deferred.
“I think in the interest of time we should go straight to item 13,” Khonje told the gathering.
His Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) counterpart Raphael Humba quickly seconded the motion and within five minutes, it was adopted paving way for the dissolving of the previous executive committee.
Nyamilandu got 27 votes followed by Wilkins Mijiga with seven votes while Willy Yabwanya Phiri got two votes.
A deafening noise filled the small conference room as soon as FAM electoral committee chairperson Dingiswayo Madise announced Nyamilandu as the winner.
His supporters thronged him as the president clenched his fist and punched the air in jubilation.
Nyamilandu, who appeared calm, said the victory was a confirmation of trust and confidence that the affiliates have in him.
It was the same scenario as his lieutenants James Mwenda won against Tiya Somba-Banda in (first) vice-presidential race while O’thaniel Hara emerged victor over Pikawo Ngalamila in second vice-president race.
Mwenda got 26 votes against Somba-Banda’s 10 while Hara got 22 votes against Ngalamila’s 16.
Jabbar Alide, Alfred Gunda, Rashid Ntelera and Daud Nthanthiko were elected executive committee members whereas Flora Mwandira, Hubert Mfune and Masauko Medi failed to make it.
“We have come from a far and it wasn’t easy. Together, we have weathered the storm and today Malawi football at a good place.
“I don’t deserve what I got, but you love me and trust me. The result does not reflect the fight before the debate, but after the [debate], it was clear who the winner would be. I knew there would be one winner and that team was Team Walter and that is why some people were throwing spanners. I would like to assure you that I will not let you down and I shall fulfil all my promises,” said Nyamilandu.
Earlier desperation, uncertainty and helplessness was the order of the day when delegates were held to a ransom the whole day by an injunction restraining the association from holding elections.
The drama started around 9am upon the commencement of the assembly when chairman for the assembly Nyamilandu announced that an injunction was obtained by Mijiga, Yabwanya and Somba-Banda stopping the elections.
Delegates deliberated for less than 20 minutes before the assembly was halted to wait for FAM lawyers to vacate the injunction at the High Court in Blantyre promising to resume in afternoon.
But that waiting turned out to be for the whole day till late into the night when the High Court discharged the injunction, paving way for the elections..
Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda ruled that the plaintiffs did not exhaust all process before obtaining the injunction.
However, Mijiga and Yabwanya were not amused with the new development and shunned the election process.
Mijiga immediately announced his withdrawal from the race describing it as illegal.
“I cannot take part in this illegal process,” Mijiga said in a message sent to Nation on Sunday.
On his part, Yabwanya said: “There were so many irregularities and the whole process was fraud. I have agreed with Mijiga to take legal action against this and we will discuss this in details tomorrow.
“To say the truth, these elections were huge embarrassment to the nation. Someone should be answerable to this mess.”