Zambia is mostly renowned on the continental chess scene for having talented players, some of whom make up the few African elites that are sanctioned as guiding lights of Africa chess. As such, any chess newsflash from this Southern African country is gauged from this perspective of chess ‘greatness’. However, over the past few months, the country had added another collection to its orthodox chess immensity that correspondingly attracted continental attention. This was the launch of never before seen chess politics, as the country was set to elect new office bearers in the chess governing mother-body in the country, dotingly known as CFZ among the Zambian chess community.
New CFZ president Mr. M. Chilufya (in black leather jacket and orange top) being congratulated by delegates. Also in the pic is the new disciplinary chairman Mr. Linus Katebe (in blue shirt).
It may seem the September 2nd 2017 suspension, of three high profile CFZ officials by the immediate past CFZ President, Mr. Ericho Nshikokola, started a volcano that was just waiting to explode. The suspended trio were Mr. Chanda Nsakanya, the General Secretary, Mr. Arron Banda, the Tournaments Director and Mr. Kalapizya Moses, the Disciplinary Chairperson. The triad were put on the back burner for ‘undermining’ the CFZ head, as they apparently misled the general public that the impending Annual General Meeting (AGM) was an elective one.
A heated debate ensued, such that the National Sports Council of Zambia (NSCZ), the governing body of all sporting associations in the country, was called in to give its verdict from a legal outlook (impartial interpretation of the CFZ constitution). After deliberations, the NSCZ ruled, that the imminent AGM was indeed an elective one and that the suspended trio be reinstated to their positions; this paved way and actually opened campaigns for aspiring office bearers of the CFZ.
And from the get go, the campaigns were ‘Fast and Furious’. Immediately, two fierce groups emerged. One was called ‘Team Zimba’ whilst the other was branded as ‘Team Mukubulo’. In apparent reference to the only two (2) contenders for the position of CFZ President, Gerald Zimba and Mukubulo Chilufya. It would be of interest to the readers to learn that Gerald Zimba is a Member of Zambia’s Parliament, representing a constituency from the Eastern region of the country, whilst Mukubulo Chilufya is the young brother of the CZF patron, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, who is equally a Member of Parliament for a constituency in the Northern part of the country and also holds the portfolio of Zambia’s Minister of Health.
The implication of these two camps, was that all those that were standing on other positions in CFZ had to identify themselves with either camp. To this effect, team Zimba was the first to avail its dream team. Team Mukubulo availed its team later than widely expected. After these ‘formalities’, the big day (AGM day) was slated to take place on Saturday, 26th May, 2018. The venue of the much anticipated meeting was equally a center of controversy, as most people only got to know of the venue less than twenty four (24) hours before the start of the AGM.
Despite some rumors that the AGM was going to be deferred to a later date, through the guidance of NSCZ, delegates (eligible voters) pulled in from all the corners of the country to vote for their preferred candidates. Kindly note, that the voting Zones that send delegates as per constitution of CFZ are eleven (11) in total, but only nine (9) Zones actually voted, as the other two (2) were barred from doing so for failing to pay CFZ membership fees on time.
All roads led to the New Russian Center, in the heart of the capital, Lusaka, the ‘final’ venue of the AGM. But even this day, was not spared by drama, never before seen in the history of the CFZ AGM. Heavy presence of Police officers signaled the anticipated hot-bloodedness of the atmosphere. The Zambian ‘men in uniform’ left no strings unattended, as they screened anyone getting in the hall where the AGM was taking place to ensure that they had authentic accreditation.
The meeting was delayed by the non-showing up of NSCZ, which was as per normal procedure, meant to dissolve the current CFZ leadership. Consequently, the NSCZ was supposed to act as an observer and oversee the elections as an impartial institution. After waiting and waiting, it was decided by a cross section of attendees, that they had waited enough and the meeting had to start. An emotive atmosphere then impinged the hall, prompting the CFZ President; Mr Ericho Nshikokola to walk out of the meeting, citing a lot of irregularities, the absence of NSCZ being one of them. “In the absence of NSCZ, I President of CFZ here by defer this EAGM to a later date, but should you decide to proceed, I am not part and parcel of this”, stated Mr Nshikokola, before walking out of the meeting.
Technically ‘ignoring’, the Presidents sentiments, the AGM went in full swing gear and voting commenced a few minutes later. The following is a full catalogue of the victors of these somehow controversial elections:
- ‘Populist’ Mukubulo Chilufya will now head CFZ after defeating his only competitor, Honorable Gerald Zimba by 30 votes to 16.
- Veteran Leslie Chikuse (former CFZ Vice President) starts his second crusade as CFZ Vice President after beating Joy Kalikeka Mtine by 34 votes to 12.
- CFZ Secretary General Kingpin, Chanda Boyd Nsakanya retains his position by beating Jeff Kanguma by 25 votes to 20.
- Sydney Mukumbo is the new Vice Secretary of CFZ after edging Emmy Issa Romanshi by 29 votes to 17.
- The battle for the treasurer position was very interesting as it saw two regionally celebrated IMs who are mostly rivals on the chess board pitted against each other on opposing factions. These were IMs Andrew Kayonde and Chitumbo Mwali. Andrew Kayonde emerged victorious by beating Chitumbo Mwali (off the board) by 32 votes to 16.
- CFZ Tournaments Director sine qua non, Mr Arron Banda went unopposed as his competitor, Miss Constance Mbatha pulled off from the race almost at the very last minute.
- Mr Linus Katebe beat Mr Kalapizya Moses by 25 votes to 21 on the position of Disciplinary Chairman.
- There were eight 8 aspirants on the position of committee members, though only 4 could be accommodated as per CFZ constitution. Andrew Andiyoza Zimba, Midosantos Chola, Daniel Chifundo Mwanza and Dr. Phylis Namasiku Mwilola are the new occupants of this position after amassing 28, 28, 27 and 28 votes respectively, Dr Mwilola being the only female in the CFZ executive.
Some chess pundits in the country feel that there may be appeals on those elected, as the AGM was ‘snubbed’ by NSCZ, which means, they did not endorse the elections. Consequently, the walking out of Mr Ericho Nshikokola who was supposed to hand over a report to NSCZ and amicably relinquish the CFZ crown is seen by some as a luxuriant ground for an appeal on the elections. For now, the Secretariat has confirmed to the general public that new office bearers have been ushered into office. We wait if the status quo stays or more drama is imminent.
Meanwhile, the majority of chess pundits across the country have extoled the delegates that attended and voted at the AGM. The voting pattern has been described as ‘meritocracy oriented’ as the executive has members from both the so called camps.