NAM, peace battle on

NAM, peace battle on

The case involving immediate-past Malawi Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa and her former employers Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) is set for pre-hearing at the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) after the association denied liability over her recent firing.

Chawinga-Kaluwa , through her lawyers Makiyi, Kanyenda & Associates, sued NAM in case number 666/2023 over her removal and she wants the IRC to declare that NAM unlawfully terminated her contract, constructively dismissed her and discriminated against her.

Seeking redress: Chawinga-Kaluwa

NAM was given 14 days from July 14 to respond to the matter and the association’s general secretary Isaac Chimwala yesterday confirmed having filed a response.

 “We received the statement of claim from the coach’s lawyers and we responded accordingly. We stand by our decision,” he said.

Makiyi, Kanyenda & Associates managing partner David Kanyenda in an interview yesterday also confirmed having received NAM’s response.

He said: “Basically, they deny liability. But I don’t have the specifics as I don’t have their defence handy. Now we are proceeding to the next phase which is pre-hearing conference. Should a negotiated settlement fail at the pre-hearing conference, a trial date shall be set.”

In a statement of claim dated July 14 2023 made through her lawyers, Chawinga-Kaluwa described NAM’s actions as unlawful termination of her contract, constructive dismissal and discrimination.

She also accused the association of defamation and procedural and substantive unfairness.

The statement  reads in part: “The applicant [Chawinga-Kaluwa] through her legal practitioners lodged a formal complaint and grievances about her unlawful treatment. However, the complaints were not addressed and were not taken seriously in so much as the respondent [NAM] refused to reinstate the applicant and instead engaged Samuel Kanyenda to perform the duties of the applicant. The unreasonable and unconscionable conduct amounts to constructive dismissal under Section 60 of the Employment Act.”

The statemnt also claims that Chawinga-Kaluwa decided to seek the court’s intervention because the Malawi National Council of Sports dilly-dallied to address the situation after it recently called NAM and Chawinga-Kaluwa to a roundtable discussion on the matter.

“The respondent dismissed the applicant without any notice either in writing or verbally. After being called by the council, we were assured to be called back for the solutions but over 30 days have passed without hearing from them,” it further reads.

However, Sports Council board chairperson Sunduzwayo Madise in an interview yesterday said their intervention was not specifically meant to resolve the matter between NAM and Chawinga-Kaluwa, but raise a number of issues concerning NAM and Malawi Queens’ Netball World Cup preparations.

He said: “We set up a committee to look into several issues about NAM operations. Actually this committee was set up before the issue between NAM and the coach.

“The committee came up with a report but we were waiting for the Netball World Cup to finish. We are going to meet and discuss its findings which of course touched on the issue of the coach as well as the team’s performance at the Netball World Cup.”

When asked what the report says about the issue between NAM and the coach, Madise, a lawyer, said: “I don’t want to pre-empt what is in the report.”

But he said it was sad that the issue was taken to court.

“Though these are labour issues, as Sports Council we are sad. First, it was FAM [Football Association of Malawi and Meck Mwase. The issue is still in court.

“Now it is NAM and Chawinga-Kaluwa. It seems this is now becoming a trend, when such issues can be solved amicably.

“Mind you, both parties will need each other in future. As a lawyer by profession, I can ably say that in court, there is no draw draw-game. Relationships get sour.”

NAM fired Chawinga-Kaluwa barely a month before the Netball World Cup in South Africa and appointed the association’s technical director Samuel Kanyenda as a stand-in coach.

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