Mwawi Kumwenda rejoins Malawi netball team after sports minister intervenes
At last, Malawi’s sole netball export Mwawi Kumwenda joined the national netball team on Monday ahead of the World Netball Cup scheduled for next month in Australia, ending a year-long hibernation following a protracted impasse with the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM).
Youth Development and Sports Minister Grace Chiumia and the player’s cousin Hlupekire Chalamba, who doubles as her manager and legal adviser, yesterday confirmed the development in separate interviews.
Said Chiumia: “I am glad to confirm that we have almost come to the bottom of the issue following discussions I had with the player and her manager on one hand and NAM on the other.
“Although NAM still stuck to their guns that they could not withdraw the warning letter they wrote to Mwawi, I had to step in their shoes for the sake of the nation to plead with Mwawi and her family to forgive and forget.”
The minister said she was scheduled to have further discussions with Chalamba yesterday to conclude the matter.
“I am supposed to travel to Blantyre tomorrow [today] where I will have a meeting with Mwawi, but I have been assured that she is set to join camp.
“There was no way we were going to compromise national interests because of the fallout and we had to find a way out. Of course, the inclusion of Mwawi is no guarantee that we will win, but it is obvious her presence will make a big difference,” said the minister.
On her part, Chalamba said: “She [Mwawi] will join camp on Monday [today] for the sake of the nation, but we are not amused with NAM.
“The minister, the national coach and her deputy [Peace Chawinga-Kalua and Mary Waya] also pleaded with us to let Mwawi join the team and we understood their position. In the end, it is about the interests of the nation.”
NAM general secretary Carol Bapu referred The Nation to the association’s president Rosy Chinunda, saying she was outside the country, but Chinunda and her vice-president Chimwemwe Kachingwe could not be reached for comment.
But last week, Chinunda told The Nation that: “Sizingatheke. We cannot withdraw the letter. In fact it is not an issue we should be discussing because to us the issue is buried.”
Mwawi drew NAM’s wrath when she failed to join the Queens camp for the Fast5 tournament in New Zealand, claiming that she had a toothache and needed to travel to South Africa for treatment.
However, NAM claimed that the player never travelled to South Africa and was in the country during the said period. After a meeting, NAM then issued a stern warning to Mwawi, a development that did not go down well with Mwawi and her family who accused NAM of having convened a ‘kangaroo court'.
“She is not a slave, where their view is important than hers,” said her brother, Moses.