By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka - Zambia’s famed footballer and 1998 African footballer of the year, Kalusha Bwalya’s candidature for the country’s FA is in jeopardy after his nomination was vetoed by the global governing body, FIFA on account of failing an integrity test.
After filing his nominations last week, like other four candidates, including incumbent Football Association of Zambia president, Andrew Kamanga, former executive member and footballer Emmanuel Munaile, the country’s Ethics Committee announced the names of the successful candidates for the forthcoming elective general meeting, less Bwalya, arguing he had failed the integrity tests.
The latter since has rubbished the process alleging that it lacked transparency and insists it was a ploy to sideline him. He argues natural justice demands that the perceived guilty party was given an audience to defend themselves but this did not happen in his case. The Ethics Committee was null and void and he would stand whether people liked it or not.
“So I am still a candidate for this election and I have given my heart and soul for Zambia and I used to come from Mexico to come and play the same day and go back. I traveled three days to reach Zambia and play, so I am Zambian, raised here and I am eligible to stand for the elections on the 28th in the normal process,” he said
“As long as I am Zambian, I am going to stand whether people like it or not.”
However, Bwalya’s the predicament has raised eyebrows among some of the ardent supporters. Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo argued that the FAZ Ethics Committee knocked him from the race to Football House.
“As a football-loving citizen of this great nation, allow me to share my very personal views about the outcome of the so called Integrity Tests conducted by the Football Association of Zambia for the upcoming elective AGM,” Lusambo said
“To begin with, it should be placed on record that this purported Integrity Test is a sham process devoid of natural justice. The Ethics Committee was birthed by personal hatred and the process is now being used to fix individuals while perpetuating the continued stay of others at the apex of our game.
Lusambo charged that electoral committee had no capacity to rule out Bwalya from contesting.
“By any case, if the FAZ Executive Committee really wanted to know the integrity levels of its potential candidates, it should have opened up the investigations to credible state institutions with capacity and track record in investigations and I believe that even the instigators of this bias[ed] process would have been found wanting,” Lusambo said.
And a FIFA technical advisor regrets Zambia’s falling football credibility arguing that the status quo was a result of the team having ‘sat back and slept’ after lifting the trophy in 2012, according to Serami Letsoaka.
Zambia has been in the comfort zone since 2012 and forgot about football development through coaches, he said last week when he officiated at the opening of a five-day course for developmental coaches on the Copperbelt, Letsoaka said Zambia has only been thinking about the 2012 AfCON.
“Having won 2012 Africa Cup of Nations you (Zambia) went to sleep. In 2013 nothing happened, in 2015, in 2017 again nothing happened in Zambia, in 2019 in Egypt nothing happened for Zambia. It means for a long time you have been sleeping. For a long time, you have been thinking about winning the 2012 AFCON without thinking of developing football. How can we have schools when you don’t have teachers (coaches)? The decision that FAZ has taken to develop football through the technical aspects is good,” he said.
“You can’t develop football by watching it on TV. Football needs people on the ground to develop football and Zambia has a generation of players in the Under-17, Under-20 and you need to continue maturing them. And your presence here says it all. You need to nurture them.”
Letsoaka said Zambia still had great potential.
“… you can be one of the big countries in Africa but it’s a challenge because a lot of people don’t take coaching seriously and if you are a country without teachers, a country without experts, you cannot do anything in football,” said Letsoaka.