World Athletics (WA) has taken over the organisation of the Athletics Malawi (AM) elections scheduled for November this year.
This comes after the World Athletics delegation, led by Confederation of African Athletics Southern Region (CAA-SR) president Zakhele Dlamini, met Minister of Youth and Sports Uchizi Mkandawire and other stakeholders at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe on Friday.
In a video clip of the meeting made available to The Nation, Dlamini said: “There was a disagreement on who was to conduct these elections after the appointment of the caretaker committee by the Sports Council.
“But as World Athletics, we are clear on our position as regards to that. We had to intervene and take over the organisation of the polls.
“We have given ourselves responsibility to conduct these elections for Malawi Athletics to have new office bearers before the end of November.”
In an interview later, Dlamini, who is from e-Swatini, and was accompanied by secretary general Tselinso Pheta from Lesotho, said they were in the country on a fact-finding mission sanctioned by WA in an effort to resolve the infighting within the Malawi athletics body and beyond.
“Different stakeholders involved in the wrangles within the athletics Malawi family have agreed that we need to hold elections and as a regional body, we are taking over the whole electoral process” he said.
Dlamini also observed an anomaly which led to adoption of three constitutions. He said the regional body would review all of them “and where there are gaps, the CAA-SR and the World Athletics constitution will be applied”.
He said: “The process will observe the 21 days notice for athletics members to nominate candidates and seven days before the elections. We want to assure the Malawi athletics fraternity that we are committed to resolve these disagreements for the development of the sport.”
In a separate interview, Mkandawire said the role of government is to create a conducive environment to develop sports, including athletics.
“As government we stopped the elections to ensure that all concerned parties agree before we proceed and when we realised we were not making progress, we referred the matter back to World Athletics for guidance,” he said.
According to AM general secretary Frank Chitembeya, Malawi Government is expected to bear the costs of the elections’ organisation and accommodation of the WA delegates while WA will cover travel arrangements for the team.
WA intervened following the ministry’s request to seek guidance on how to handle the polls to avoid the risk of a ban due to government interference.
The polls are already long overdue after being postponed several times due to an impasse between AM leadership and the Malawi National Council of Sports.
Meanwhile, AM current executive committee, concerned athletics officials, Sports Council and Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) met at MOC offices in Lilongwe on Sunday where they endorsed the World Athletics’ decision.
However, in an interview yesterday, Chitembeya said while they are happy that the polls are on, it is sad that the nation failed to conduct the elections due to disorganisation.
“It is encouraging to note that finally, there is progress on the elections. However, we could have done better as a nation because we could have sorted this matter on our own,” he said.