Susan Namangale has become the first woman president of the International Chess Federation (Fide) Zone 4.5.
Namangale, who is also the first female president of Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam), rose to the helm of Zone 4.5 yesterday after defeating Tseliso Motloeloa of Lesotho by six votes against four in an election held in Chennai, India.
Zone 4.5 comprises Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, e-Swatini and Lesotho.
In an interview yesterday, Namangale could not hide her excitement, saying she looks forward to her new challenging task.
She said: “I am overwhelmed with emotions. It is a great feeling when men entrust women with such a huge responsibility.
“I thank my 10 zonal members for believing in me to lead the zone. I have pledged to put myself to service and will work hard for the zone and for every member to be carried along.
“My decision to contest was motivated by my desire to offer the zone valuable takeaways from an accumulated worth of administrative and organisational expertise in the sport.”
Initially, there were three candidates, including outgoing president Joe Mahomole, but the South African pulled out shortly after results of the African Chess Union (ACC) elections were released, which saw another woman Tshepiso Lopang of Botswana winning the presidency.
Lopang defeated outgoing ACC vice-president Benard Wanjala of Kenya and Hesham Elgindy of Egypt.
The elections were held on the sidelines of the 44th World Chess Olympiad.
Malawi National Council of Sports board member Lieutenant General Clement Kafuwa (retired), who accompanied the Malawi chess teams, witnessed the historic elections which will be followed by Fide Elective Congress on August 7.
In his congratulatory remarks, Kafuwa said the election of Namangale was a blessing to Malawi and the zone, describing her as a ‘very hardworking and goal-oriented woman.”