MONDAY afternoon as we were all closing Tuesday’s publications, came the biggest headline from Zurich, Kalusha Bwalya is ‘absolutely’ free! Yes, free at last!
FIFA themselves are calling it partial lifting of the ban, but I refuse to call it that because that other pending ka fine has already been taken up by a bad Samaritan who has offered to pay it on behalf of Kalu. Wow how nice.
I know you dear readers want me to give you a timeline of the events leading to the famous Monday ‘acquittal’ but in the interest of time and limited space, I will just let you know that Kalusha was banned over payments he allegedly received from someone called Bin Hamman, the Qatari billionaire who wanted to challenge disgraced former FIFA giant Sepp Blatter, way back, and now the FIFA Appeals Committee found that the decision of the FIFA adjudicatory chamber was too harsh…that’s so. Now it’s time to dwell on Kalu’s freedom and what it means for his football career, for his fans and most importantly for politicians and his life going forward.
First and foremost, I joined millions of Zambians in celebrating Kalu’s freedom because like it or not, Kalusha arguably comes second only to first Republican president Dr Kenneth Kaunda in terms of international recognition, debatable right?
Yes, you are right to debate or question my argument, but I am basing it on the many times that I have traversed the continent of Africa and beyond in search of sports news. The first question you get upon introducing yourself is how is Kalusha Bwalya? Though I can’t give you the correct pronunciation of his names. Next is, is Kaunda still alive, oh great men…
Last week, Nkana Football Club was in Cote d’ Ivoire for their CAF Confederation cup and I was there to cover the outing, and throughout our stay at Novotel Hotel, we were every day greeted with Kalusha! Kalusha! by security personnel and other onlookers. Now such is how famous the guy is. Such is the fame that magical left foot has bestowed on that man culminating into his becoming administrator after an illustrious playing career.
He has had his flaws both as a player and more especially as administrator and I am sure his adversaries are still pointing to his faults while at the helm of Football House as FAZ president. But hey! Who doesn’t have flaws and faults? We are all human after all and as long as we exist and hold public offices, we will be found with mistakes, what matters is the gravity of those flaws and faults.
However, when I look at people that are celebrating Kalu’s freedom, I have serious doubts to believe some of them.
Clearly here, not everyone wants Kalusha to be free so that he can live his normal football life, no.
As you have already seen good or bad Samaritans have offered to pay the K120,000 on behalf of Kalusha. I mean the MMD die-hard, now the Honourable Minister for Lusaka Province Bowman Chilosha Lusambo is one of those. I don’t know if Kalusha is asking for assistance to settle the FIFA fine imposed on him.
If you ask me, I wouldn’t have a problem if my elder brother Nkweto Tembwe, my young man Mukwima Chilala, my good friend Obi Malambo and other well-known Kalu’s lieutenants offered to pay on his behalf, but we are talking Bowman here ladies and gentlemen, Bowman.
Two things here, some people that are happy with this news are well-known football conmen that obviously will be enticing him to get back into murky football politics with an eye back into Football House so that they can benefit from him again…well, don’t Kalu, don’t.
If he accepts to go that route and in an event that he got back to football administration locally, he would find a new constitution, a new electoral college that won’t benefit kandiles (benefactors) the way they did before 2016 and they will start calling him names.
Someone asked me why football standards have plummeted in Zambia and my response rather shocked him. “It’s because we have reduced the football debate to two individuals, Kalusha and Andrew Kamanga,” I responded.
I still stick to this because I believe Kalusha has done his bit at Football House, he must leave that stage. Winning the AfCON 2012 as FA president means that he has run his race and therefore must move on to bigger challenges. There are many other administrators that can run football in the country because he will not be there forever. He is a big name in CAF and FIFA already, he can easily pick up anything there if he wants to continue with football life and it will still benefit Zambia.
Secondly, the likes of Bowman perhaps want Kalusha there because they can use him for political mileage like they did in 2016.
Let me tell you, Mr Bowman, what I think Kalusha needs. Kalusha’s public approval ratings are a million times higher than Bowman and probably higher than 90 per cent of the current cabinet and therefore cannot be reduced to a campaign Launchpad.
Most of the current politicians, President Edgar Lungu know how Kalu’s legs got them votes in Central Province when he juggled a few balls at that final campaign rally before the 2016 general elections and therefore are salivating at the prospect of using him again.
Kalusha can win any of the three parliamentary seat in his home town of Mufulira with relative ease on a right party or even as an independent candidate with good campaigners on his side and therefore should not accept less things.
There are so many misfits in the current cabinet that surely anyone of Kalusha’s calibre can replace if people wanted him to take a political route rather than position him for the next campaigns.
Kalusha is an ambitious man and I am sure he has carefully been watching his pal, George Weah’s rise to Liberia’s presidency and the rookie, former TP Mazembe goal keeper Robert Kidiaba’s election to the Congolese parliament recently after all he has been studying political science, I stand to be corrected on this one.
I am sure Kalu has learnt something from this episode but he should never allow himself to be coned to look backwards.
He knows his worth and should not accept smaller things, he should look forward but who knows, it’s a wait and see situation. Congrats but which way Kalu?