LATELY, Zambia Boxing Federation (ZBF) president Thomas Chileshe and national team coach Kennedy Kanyanta have been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
To be precise, a fortnight ago (January 2, 2016) they made this column in a piece titled “Chileshe Must Resign, Too” in which I chronicled the gripe of the Midlands Amateur Boxing Association (MABA) against Chileshe’s administration which they want removed like yesterday.
In a petition to the mother body, the Sports Council of Zambia (SCZ) MABA listed 12 grounds of grievances prime among them alleged (and confirmed) corrupt activities involving Chileshe which triggered the resignation of his accomplice Kanyanta since his conscience was troubled and he could not walk with his head high over the matter.
Others who took a cue from Kanyanta’s example and voluntarily stepped down are his assistant Wisdom Mudenda and ring official Darius Kabwe who confessed their part in the corrupt act in which Chileshe took money on the pretext of claiming a refund for personal expenses on boxers’ visas.
The petition which should have been heard about a week ago by the SCZ legal and disciplinary committee was temporarily set aside following the intervention by Sports Minister Vincent Mwale who summoned SCZ chairperson Mwamba Kalenga to get first -hand information on the goings on in ZBF.
It was, however, reported that the disciplinary committee sat last Saturday to discuss the petition but is yet to announce its verdict on Chileshe.
But the petition made no bones about the levels of corruption in the federation and if one wanted to become a coach or be selected to the team, let alone accompany the national team as an official, “one has to pay something to the members of the executive.”
Proof of this came during the All Africa Games in Brazzaville last year (2015), where some boxers lost a total of K4,000 from their allowances to pay the accompanying senior officials.
In a bizarre twist, this past week Chileshe and Kanyanta were in the news again this time because MABA has refused to release six boxers who were cherry picked by Kanyanta (in a dubious capacity) for the Rio qualifiers set for March in Cameroun.
According to media reports, Kanyanta hand-picked the boxers-Mbachi Kaonga, Ben Muziyo, Emmanuel Ngoma, Simon Mwale, Juliana Kasonka and Orienge Lungu without undergoing the correct selection procedure-national trials.
MABA acting general secretary Christian Kalima pointed out that the selection of the six from MABA alone without facing any competition from other associations made no sense and was grossly unfair.
What can we make of the latest development in ZBF?
First, it boggles the mind that Kanyanta who resigned can continue in his former role and, as if this wasn’t bad enough, unilaterally pick boxers from the
association which has grievances against Chileshe.
Is the picking of the six fighters not an act of open appeasement and atonement for the sins committed by the Chileshe administration?
Second, what role, if any, did Chileshe play in the decision to handpick boxers from MABA at the expense of other affiliates?
Would it be too much to assume that Chileshe is trying to pull the wool over the face of MABA so that the association can withdraw its
petition against him? In other words, is he trying to circumvent the course of justice? But this would be ridiculous in the wake of reports
that the SCZ legal and disciplinary committee did, in fact, sit last Saturday to consider the petition.
It’s quite hard to understand why Kanyanta who resigned continues to be coach.
Has he been forced to reconsider his position by Chileshe or the resignation was only verbal?
These and more troubling questions will continue to haunt watchers of the sport as the ZBF continues to display its good sense of the absurd.
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