I WILL be brutally frank today like I have never been before as I attempt to offer solutions to the troubled Zambia Amateur Boxing Federation (ZABF) which is not unlike a sinking Titanic unless sport minister Chishimba Kambwili steps in immediately to rescue it.
First, what are the issues? Same old issues, really. There was a wrangle with the former executive of ZABF president Stephen Simpemba about eligibility of presidential candidates who doubled as amateur and professional boxing participants and or promoters which has since been rested following the controversial February elective annual general meeting which ushered in Thomas Chileshe.
Chileshe has been a thorn in the flesh of the Midlands Amateur Boxing Association (MABA) which out rightly rejected his election and, thereby, his leadership of ZABF accusing him of having used fake clubs to garner more votes than Chris Malunga, his fiercest rival who had been tipped to win a fair election.
The 2011 ZABF annual report says there were only 26 registered clubs during the year, but 36 clubs attended and voted at the AGM.
The National Sports Council of Zambia (NSCZ), itself an almost moribund organization, stepped in and desperately tried to prevail over MABA to change its stance on Chileshe and recognize his leadership, but to no avail.
NSCZ even upheld the banning by Thomas Chileshe of three MABA officials Godfrey Mwape, Thomas Chililo and John Bwalya in an apparent show of power and to assert himself.
The three MABA officials have since petitioned Kambwili to resolve the feud and rejected Anthony Tembo and Moses Ngándu who were appointed to replace them. MABA acting Chairman Raphael Chalwe is urging Kambwili to move fast on the ZABF wrangles as any further delay will paralyse preparations for the zone six Games later this year.
Chalwe told me in an interview this week that MABA agrees with suspended ZABF general secretary Bright Chomba who did not attend a constitution review meeting the in Kabwe recently in protest against the sidelining of Southern Province Amateur Boxing Association (SPABA) and MABA by the Chileshe executive
Chomba is to appear before a disciplinary committee to answer various charges including allegedly undermining the executive, according to a July 23 letter from ZABF to NSCZ.
The letter further claims that "we came to learn from the media that he (Chomba) privately assigned himself a trip to London for the Olympics as a manager without the knowledge of any committee member of the ZABF..."
As the drama continues to unfold, I urge Kambwili to quickly step in and play the role of a mediator in these unending wrangles which, as the minister himself has correctly observed, will hurtno good for anyone, the individuals concerned, the fans, the ministry, other stakeholders and the sport at large.
I understand that during the recent Zambia International Trade Fair in Ndola, 20 boxers who took part in the tournaments were fed on two chickens and dried fish, yet there was enough money to buy them decent and fulfilling meals.
The aggrieved parties have several courses of action to take to resolve their disputes, including court action and mediation by the minister of sport. To me, the answer in all these beefs, allegations and counter allegations lies not in court action nor in the minister, but with the individuals involved. Through mediation, the minister will act as a neutral third party and can only facilitate rather than direct the process.
His role will not and should not be to decide who is right or wrong or issue a decision. The benefits of mediation include confidentiality. While court hearings are public, mediation remains strictly confidential. No one but the parties to the dispute and the mediator know what happened.
Mediation increases the control the parties have over the resolution. In a court case, the parties obtain a resolution, but control resides with the judge or jury. Often, a judge or jury cannot legally provide solutions that emerge in mediation. Thus, mediation is more likely to produce a result that is mutually agreeable for the parties.