Four (4) years ago, the fairest and most interesting Africa Chess Confederation (ACC) elections were held in Batumi, Georgia.
Three candidates were going for the position of leadership during the period, namely:
Mr. Lewis Ncube from Zambia
Dr. Essoh Essis from Cote d’Ivoire
Mr. Tshepo Sitale from Botswana
During the electioneering process, these three (3) were neck and neck, bringing up issues that needed addressing in the ACC structure and with federations.
Issues cropped up in the Ivorian federation about Dr. Essoh’s leadership and a parallel federation seemingly evolved from the nation. Although, the ministry of sports in Cote d’Ivoire has subsequently annulled the parallel federation, with FIDE acknowledging that only FIDEC is recognized by the ruling body, the country has not seen development since. Why? According to Dr. Essoh, the opposition camp have refused to come out for election. According to Mario Kpan, no fair election has been called for. A story for another day.
The issue of arbiter selection also came up, which entangled Mr. Tshepo Sitale, who did not accept that he was involved in such. He mentioned, “ACC is the body saddled with the responsibility of relating with Fide as regards arbiters from her jurisdiction”.
There was also the issue of financial misappropriation against Mr. Lewis (who was the incumbent). However, some documentation was used to debunk the said misappropriation and showing how the funds were used at the time.
The election came and Mr. Tshepo withdrew from the race, leaving the duo of Mr. Lewis Ncube and Dr. Essoh Essis. The electorates cast their votes, and Mr. Lewis Ncube won by a single vote margin (while there was a candidate who did not cast his vote).
Four (4) years on, barring the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, herein is where we are as a continent:
South Africa finally has a new federation president, and there is no contesting it. South Africa had power tussles for over half a decade. However, this has now been resolved and chess is gaining pace again in the nation “Inspiring New Ways”.
There are a few federations being handled by the FIDE Reverse Delegate. This means that there are unresolved issues plaguing such nations, and the appointment of a Fide representative to handle the resolution of such matters was imperative.
Kenya has become a major force. After handing over a car to the Kenya National Chess Champion in the final year of his leadership, Mr. Bernard Wanjala has once again delivered on consistency. The works he has done in Kenya Chess speaks for itself, with consistent quality chess events, most recently the Kenya Open (which had Ugandans claiming the top three  positions).
ACC set up physical office in Zambia. One of the key campaign promise of the current administration is that they will set up an office for the confederation. News reaching us is that the office is now in place.
While some federation presidents still hope to see the office physically, it is believed that funds have been expended to the achievement of this feat (as captured in the report provided to federation presidents. This is an important achievement, and it will go down as one of the best moves by the current administration.
ACC set up commissions. During the last campaign, there was a call to delegate various parts of the confederation in other to reduce the workload on the president. This is meant to also give more people from various parts of the continent a sense of belonging to the ACC. In as much as the commissions were set up, most of them have seemingly not been so functional, with the only vocal commission being the Players Commission.
Now, the ACC elections are upon us once again and the incumbent has decided to throw his hat in the ring once again. Mr. Lewis Ncube has declared his intentions to leading Africa for another four (4) years.
Although, this came as a surprise to a number of federation leaders, there has been rumors of those that might take up the challenge, but they are yet to declare their intentions to run for the highest chess office in Africa Chess.
Former Fide General Secretary, Mr. Noel Fumey has consistently called on Mr. Lewis to take up an advisory role (considering his fatherly nature and wealth of experience), and allow a younger, more vibrant and active individual to take the reins. However, we are yet to see if Mr. Lewis will take this plea or forge ahead with his candidacy.
Looking at some of the possible candidates for the position of leadership on the African front, we would also want to find out your opinion in the poll afterwards.
Do kindly note that these individuals are just possible candidates, and they did not inform us at Africa Chess Media of their intentions to run for the office of the ACC president.
Ms. Tshepiso Lopang (Botswana) – Currently a member of the ACC board, and has been in the Africa chess scene for close to two (2) decades. A Technician by profession BEng in Mechatronics, MSc in Professional Engineering, Qualified International Arbiter, WIM and FIDE instructor. She is also a vibrant young woman and an enterprising person, who sees a plan and works towards the achievement of that plan. Being the year of the women in Chess, could she be the link to get Africa Chess going to the next level?
Dr. Hesham Elgendy (Egyptian Chess Federation) – President of the Egyptian Chess Federation, as well as the Head of Red Sea Association (comprised of some African and Middle-Eastern countries). His achievements as the Egyptian Chess Federation President includes (but not limited to) the making of Grandmasters, amazing partnerships with companies to develop chess, as well as obtaining the backing of the government to have chess as a curriculum in schools.
Dr. Essoh Essis (Cote d’Ivoire) – He was the president of the first African federation to bring a sitting World Champion to Africa (documented). He and his team achieved this feat when the Cotê d’Ivoire Chess Federation (FIDEC) partnered with Kasparov Chess Foundation and Canal+, to have one of the editions of the Grand Chess Tour (2019) in the country. The nation’s chess industry has since been plagued with internal strife that has crumbled chess activities to the barest minimum.
Eng Emmanuel Mwaka (Uganda Chess Federation) – President of the Uganda Chess Federation, and a brilliant engineer who has held the federation together over the years. He voice has been heard at various levels of FIDE meetings, standing for Africa Chess and changing the way the world views the continent.
Mr. Bernard Wanjala (Chess Kenya) – President of the most exciting chess federation on the continent at present. Achieved the feat of presenting a brand new car as Champion’s prize at the National Championship back to back (two different players won the event). He has also shown other Federations on the continent that it is possible to look within and build from bottom-up. His partnerships, building bridges with those who opposed him, and accountability continue to stand him in good stead to lead the nation.
With the power to vote, which of these candidates would you vote for? Furthermore, would you rather Africa stick with the current leader, Mr. Lewis Ncube? Make your voice heard.