Stay away from football, FAM tells ACB

In a dramatic turn of events, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has told the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to stay away from football related issues, saying all association football-related matters in Malawi are within the purview of the Football Association of Malawi and its affiliates.

The country’s football governing body was responding to ACB’s findings and recommendations on Regional Association polls that were stopped by the Bureau last year after receiving complaints from some concerned members regarding the nomination process prior to the polls.

In their investigations, ACB faulted all the Districts Football Associations for failure to convene meetings and at times, failure to properly handle the meetings to nominate candidates for regional elections since only few members attended.

Furthermore, the body accused the current office bearers, who were interested to be nominated, for influencing the nomination process by side-lining eligible non-Regional Committee members, a development which saw them imposing themselves on the district football associations.

The body also discovered forgery on nomination forms as those purported to have signed them disowned the signatures that were found on the forms. According to ACB, there were no sets of guidelines for the conduct of free and fair nominations prior to the polls.

The body then advised FAM to nullify all the nominations and ordered for fresh nominations process as well as advising the association and the Malawi National Council of Sports to oversee the nomination process and not regional committee members who are mostly conflicted.

However, while appreciating the ACB’s role, FAM has turned the body down, saying the Bureau ought to take cognizance of the Football Associations operations, the governing statutes, the football structures and how the associations report to each other.

In the response signed by FAM’s General Secretary Alfred Gunda, the football body has argued that the game of football is well governed and controlled by FIFA Rules and Regulations and also Association Statutes.

The country’s soccer governing body has further reminded ACB that FAM wasn’t formed by an Act of Parliament hence limiting the Bureau from over-stepping their mandate as issues to do with football are governed by internal rules.

“In Government Employees Medical Scheme, Gunvant Goolab and Marthinus Johannes Kruger vs The Public Protector of the Republic of South Africa, Joel Moagl Tumelo Bennedict Ngwato, The Registrar of Medical Schemes and the Council of Medical Schemes [2020] ZASCA 111, it was stated that organisations that are associational in nature and not formed out of a Parliamentary Act should be governed by internal rules. FAM and its affiliates fall within these associations as they are bodies not formed by an Act of Parliament,” reads part of the statement.

FAM then faulted ACB for halting the polls, saying the anomaly should never happen again.

“That ACB was able to proceed to halt elections for Regional Football Associations is an anomaly that should not have happened and should never happen in football. FAM understands that ACB proceeded on the premise that it has discretion to issue Restriction Notices under section 23 of the Corrupt Practices Act. Discretion is only exercisable where there is jurisdiction. Much as we appreciate the investigative role of the ACB in any alleged or suspected corrupt practice, FAM is of the view that ACB does not have jurisdiction over football matters apart from investigating whether there are corrupt practices and bringing to book through the court of law those who have breached the corrupt practices Act,” reads part of the statement.

FAM has also turned down ACB’s request to include the Sports Council in the nomination process, saying it will be absurd for the Council to do so.

According to FAM, under the Malawi National Council of Sports Act, MNSC’s main function is to develop, promote, encourage and control all forms of sport in Malawi on a National Basis.

FAM has further argued that it is an affiliate of MNCS hence in the football structure FAM has mandate over Regional Football Associations affairs as its affiliate which trickles down to the Regional Football Associations having mandate over the District Football Associations as their affiliates.

“In this football structure, it will be absurd for MNCS to regulate and participate in the electoral process for Regional Football Associations and even worse nominations done by District Football Associations.

“Elections for Regional Football Associations are governed by the associations’ respective Statutes. A reading of the three Statutes does not provide an instance where the MNCS is permitted to participate in the electoral process. The only way MNCS can participate in the respective electoral processes is where the Statutes are amended or where MNCS is invited as an observer. However, with the current statutes, MNCS has no mandate or right to participate in the electoral process. FAM will where necessary, proceed to engage MNCS to play a role of an observer in the elections,” concluded the statement.

However, renowned Lawyer David Kanyenda has refuted the arguments made by the association and has since warned FAM that sports authorities are not immune from the public law enforcement.

“Even FIFA Executive Members and CAF President have once been arrested over awards of contracts and vote rigging in football administration. It’s a very weak legal and moral argument for sports authorities to immunise themselves from public law enforcement. The fact that FAM isn’t constituted by the Act of Parliament is not a licence to corrupt and criminality. It’s an absurd to peddle that argument and say ‘we can steal and be corrupt and no one has jurisdiction to investigate us,” he said.

Meanwhile, FAM has advised its Regional Associations to hold polls within 21 days, with all the fresh nomination process to be done within 10 days by registered mail with a copy submitted to the Regional Associations General Secretary who will be required to issue a notice of the Elective Annual General Meeting.

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