It is obvious that there is an apparent disconnect between Malawi Government, sports associations and reality.
As it is, associations are seriously hoping to resume their games as soon as possible- perhaps with no spectators allowed and a global crisis which is showing no signs of remorse.
For the past few weeks, Malawi’s Covid19 cases have been lowering and happily enough, recoveries have been overwhelming.
Evidently, government announced the reopening of schools with a general perspective that people should adapt to the abnormal new normal.
This gave hope to Malawians who have now been made to believe that things would return to normal and that soon, government would be opening up almost every sector of the society.
As students were now preparing to return back to school, sports athletes, administrators and fans were also banking on the same government to give nod to sports resumption as things were looking very positive by each and every passing day.
One of the associations that had already submitted its roadmap for resumption of sports is the Football Association of Malawi (FAM).
Through Chimango Munthali, FAM conducted some series of meetings with Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Malawi National Council for Sports (MNCS) for a possible date for football resumption.
The meetings started in June and by the end of July, FAM was convinced that football would return in August or early September.
Unfortunately, the sports fraternity was shocked to hear that the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 was yet to receive the roadmap through the Sports Council.
As FAM kept on pushing government to resume football, it was one excuse for another, with the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 saying nothing on football resumption.
On Friday last week, FAM conducted Covid-19 tests on local based players who were supposed to start their training on Monday only to be frustrated by government which kept on giving excuses to the country’s soccer governing body.
This forced the association to cancel the national team training camp ahead of Cosafa, Africa Cup of Nations and FIFA World Cup games next month.
As it is, nobody knows the hour or the date of which sports would resume in the country.
So, as sssociations are being kept in the dark by the authorities, it is business as usual for government with Cabinet Ministers busy on a campaign trail for the upcoming Parliamentary and Local Government by-elections.
Information Minister Gospel Kazako told Malawians through the media last week to remain patient.
“Government is aware that the sports fraternity is eagerly looking forward to sports resumption, but we cannot just start. We ask them to remain patient as the committee entrusted with studying the guidelines does its work,” he was quoted by Zodiak.
On his part, Chairperson for the Taskforce on Covid-19 Dr. John Phuka made an assurance to the sports fraternity that the country will participate in every international competition.
“We acknowledge that the country is committed to international sports. The subcommittee is looking into the measures that will allow the country to participate in the upcoming international sporting programmes,” he told journalists during a press briefing.
But if indeed government is putting the welfare of its citizens at heart, why is the same government conducting political rallies where thousands of people are always in attendance?
On Sunday, thousands of people attended a UTM rally in Karonga to welcome an independent Member of Parliament and to the surprise of many, there was a football match as part of the event.
In Mangochi, MCP’s Vice President Sidik Mia conducted several campaign rallies for the party’s candidate in the upcoming by-elections.
Now, would we be wrong to say politicians are immortal? Should we conclude that politicians are immune to the virus? The very same people they are pretending to protect are busy conducting their businesses in flea markets, all the night clubs are in full operation and it’s business as usual in every sector of life. Why not sports?.
It is clear that government doesn’t want sports to resume for obvious reasons.
Government is very much aware that the sports fraternity wants sports to return, football in particular.
It is clear that government wants to frustrate FAM simply because it is not in good terms with Walter Nyamilandu who is heading the association.
Government reckons for sure that any direct interference at FAM will result into sanctions from FIFA and the only way to get back to Nyamilandu is through playing hide and seek games.
With CAF and FIFA calendar dates released, government knows that FAM is the only association which is panicking due to the suspension of football in the country.
Bearing in mind that FAM made it clear in May that failure by government to remove the restrictions by 30th September, the season will be cancelled, government is just waiting for the same association to announce the cancellation of the 2020 season.
By doing this, the blame game will be shifted to Nyamilandu, who is always accused of being a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) sympathiser.
It is no longer a secret that MCP/UTM government wants someone who subscribes to Tonse Alliance philosophy and Nyamilandu is definitely not someone they would love to keep at the helm of the association but with FIFA sanctions in mind, it’s likely to be a tall order to chop him from the top and the only way to show him that he is not needed, is to deliberately slow down the progress of resuming sports.
Now, chances of Malawi taking part in the upcoming games are very minimal because October is just weeks away from today and the best possible solution is for the government to come out clear in the open as regards to resuming sports in the country.
It is either they tell the nation the truth or forever hold their piece.
It doesn’t make any sense to have everything in full swim apart from sports.
For once, government should avoid bringing issues of politics into sports, which unites people.
Government should be reminded that we cannot all be Cabinet Ministers or Member of Parliament or Civil Servants. People earn their living through sports and failure by the Tonse Alliance administration to give a clear answer on sports resumption means that a lot of people are still suffering.
Is this the change that we voted for? When you were busy campaigning, you promised to be a government for every Malawian, are athletes not Malawians?
We need answers, we demand answers, we say no to politics of hate, castigation and tribalism.
The writting on the wall is that enough with these good for nothing meetings. We need a solution!