By: Andrew Cane Chilapondwa
One of the Presidential Candidates during the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) controversial polls last year,
, has denied all the charges leveled against him by the FA’s legal team over taking football matters to Court contrary to Article 68 of FIFA statuses and Article 67 of FAM statuses.
The association’s disciplinary committee summoned Yabwanya Phiri together with fellow Presidential candidate Wilkins Mijiga and Tiya Somba Banda who was vying for the position of first Vice President to a hearing slated for Thursday, 24th March 2016 at Mpira Village in Chiwembe, Blantyre.
Hours before the polls, the defendant and the other accused candidates obtained a Court Injunction following the violation of Article 22 (1) of FAM statuses which stipulates that the list of 36 names of the affiliates be sent to the FA’s General Assembly at least 15 days before the date of Assembly, resulting in the delay of the AGM as the restraining order was vacated during the late hours on the elections day.
However, Yabwanya Phiri through the defense lawyer denied all the charges saying the FA is to blame for failing to address some of the issues raised by the defendant before the polls. “Section 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi grants Malawi Citizen the freedom to form or join any association, including FAM.
“Section 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi grants Malawi Citizen the freedom to form or join any association, including FAM.
“The actions of FAM by denying the Respondent access to information about delegates and voters to the 2015 FAM elections affected his chances of campaigning for the FAM presidency and consequently undermined the right under Section 32 especially considering that the incumbent had easy access to such information,” reads part of the statement addressed to FAM.
The defense lawyer further added that it was within the law that the defendant involved the Court of law as he is a bonafide citizen of the country.
The defendant then defended the decision to take the issue to Ordinary Court contrary to Article 67 (1) of FAM status saying he took his grievances before the Electoral Code which called for the postponement of the election but FAM decided to violate its own rules and sought clarification from a FIFA representative who had no mandate apart from being an observer to make a substantive decision.
“It must be emphasized that in respecting the above provision, the Respondent took his grievances before the Electoral Appeals committee of FAM which reasonably determined that the elections were to be postponed until several concerns were addressed. Article 12 (4) of the Electoral Code states that the decision of the appeals committee was to have complied within its entirety.”
“However, FAM decided to violate its own rules and sought clarification from a FIFA representative who had no mandate (apart from being an observer) to make a substantive decision regarding the elections.”
FAM’s actions in allowing a FIFA representative to make a decision further contradicted Article 67 (2) of the FAM statute which states that “FAM shall have jurisdiction on internal national disputes i.e. disputes between parties belonging to FAM. FIFA shall have jurisdiction on international disputes i.e. disputes between parties belonging to different associations or confederations.”
“It is clear therefore that any disputes on FAM elections fall within the jurisdictions of FAM electoral appeals committee, whose decision is final. FAM, therefore, erred in disregarding its own rules,” continued the statement.
On FAM’s Article 68 statuses which stipulates that any appeal against a final and binding FIFA decision shall be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), the Defense lawyer said: “A proper construction of Article 67 (2) as read with Article 68 clearly shows that the matter which was complained of by the Respondent was within FAM’s jurisdiction as such, CAS does not come into play,” reads the statement.
The Defense lawyer concluded that FAM can not under any circumstance deny a citizen of Malawi access to a court of law and right to an effective remedy as that would be in contravention of the constitution, and rendering the FAM statute invalid and that the Respondent acted within the confines of the law and all applicable rules.
As of Thursday, FAM’s disciplinary committee was meeting Mijiga and Somba Banda. However, Yabwanya Phiri was not available on the meeting. FAM is yet to respond to the defendant’s letter.