Lilongwe, Malawi, July 16: Malawi Sports Minister, Grace Chiumia has disclosed that she will step in to end a row involving Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) and prolific netballer, Mwawi Kumwenda.
Chiumia said in an interview aired Thursday that she has decided to intervene to end the standoff between Kumwenda and NAM because the nation wanted the issue resolved once for all.
She said she had already talked to the New Zealand based star personally, as well as, her cousin who is also her manager, Hlupikire Chalamba to resolve the yearlong standoff.
“Their main concern hinges on the fact that they want NAM officials to clearly explain on what they exactly meant in the warning letter to Mwawi,” explained Chiumia.
NAM recalled Kumwenda in the team preparing for biggest netball global showpiece, Netball World Cup that is expected to throw off from August 6 and ends on 17 August in Sydney Australia.
But Kumwenda refused to budge until the local governing body withdraws a warning letter issued to her last year against for alleged indiscipline.
She had fallen out with netball governing authorities on matters of national team players welfare.
National netballers were owed by netball governing body money in form of game bonuses and allowances that had accumulated over a period of years.Subsequently; she started staying away from the national team engagements.
The row reached its climax after Kumwenda missed Fast5 World Netball Series held in New Zealand on the pretext that she had a dental problem that needed specialist attention in South Africa.
NAM then issued a warning letter that disciplinary action will be taken against if she continues staying away from national duties.
Kumwenda stuck to her guns and through her manager, Chalamba argued that the process that NAM took to the issue the warning letter was flawed and unfounded.
“The process of arriving at the disciplinary action was flawed and unfounded. NAM’s letter accused her of indiscipline which was serious allegation that constitutes a dent on her career,” argued Chalamba.
However NAM secretary general, Carol Bapu said the netball governing did not have issues against Kumwenda citing her inclusion in the squad preparing for Netball World Cup.
“To us it is water under the bridge and that is why we recalled Mwawi. We do not have problems with her and if she has a problem then she will come to us,” said Bapu.
Kumwenda is the team’s linchpin and since the time she went into self imposed exile Malawi has been struggling heightening calls from netball fans for her recall in the team.
The Malawi national netball team coach, Peace Chawinga-Kalua is also desperate for the gangling shooter return into the team fold.
“As a coach, I need Mwawi at all cost. The team needs her services and the nation needs her [too].I am yet to be updated by the authorities, but I am hoping she will join us as soon as possible,” Chawinga –Kalua said.
Efforts by this reporter to solicit comment from Kumwenda and her handlers on the sports minister intervention were futile.
But in reports published Wednesday, Chalamba revealed that NAM has also engaged Kumwenda camp in a separate effort to resolve the standoff.
“NAM has engaged us to discuss the issue, but it’s too early to commit anything at the moment. It is a good development though because Mwawi has always been committed towards national duty,” said Chalamba.
Recently, Kumwenda herself signalled that she is willing to end self imposed exile from but made it crystal clear that she won’t make the decision on her own.
“I would love to resume playing for my country, but I have left everything in the hands of my family. To me this is a delicate issue and I need their guidance,” she said.