African Chess Confederation Re-Elects Lewis Ncube In Quest For Unity
Lewis Ncube continues to serve as president of the African Chess Confederation. | Photo source: Lewis Ncube.

African Chess Confederation Re-Elects Lewis Ncube In Quest For Unity

| 8 | Chess Politics

With a two-vote margin, Lewis Ncube was re-elected as president of the African Chess Confederation (ACC) at the FIDE congress last month. Our correspondent Alessandro Parodi explains what it means for chess in Africa.

Zambia's Lewis Ncube was re-elected as the ACC president in Batumi, Georgia. The vote, which took place together with the Olympiad and shortly after the FIDE elections, was a close call. One federation's vote decided the winner between incumbent Ncube and the coalition of Essoh Essis and Tshepo Sitale for a final ballot count of 23 to 21.

Ncube's victory in Africa is a close reflection of Arkady Dvorkovich's election as FIDE president. Dvorkovich had full support from African chess leaders after Nigel Short's withdrawal, which may have swayed the necessary votes for him to win. Out of the ACC candidates, it's Ncube who aligned the most to his program and that of his predecessor Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Hence, many African federations decided for a diplomatic vote of unity and went for another Ncube term.

So, what's new in Africa? Political chameleon Lewis Ncube managed to stay in power, while Dvorkovich got his votes and took over Ilyumzhinov's legacy in the continent. Those who were calling for a radical change will surely bite their fingers wondering whose one vote allowed the ACC to perpetuate the status quo. Conversely, the federations that expect the moderate but consistent growth of chess in Africa may see in another Ncube term a warranty of stability and the reinforcement of old political ties.

The ACC Board

The new ACC presidential board. From left to right: Lewis Ncube (president), Kezzie Msukwa (secretary general), GM Slim Bouaziz (deputy president), Benard Wanjala (vice president), Tshepiso Lopang (vice president) and Ansumana Kamara (treasurer). | Photo source: Lewis Ncube.

Lewis Ncube demonstrated once again his political foresight and did his math right: "People simply chose my program and supported my very strong, whole new team," he explained. His ticket is composed of GM Slim Bouaziz (deputy president), Kezzie Msukwa (general secretary), Benard Wanjala (vice president), Tshepiso Lopang (vice president), Ansumana Kamara (treasurer). "The committee is a broad representation of all of Africa's regions and is composed of highly professional individuals," he added.

The ACC's agenda for the new term rides the wave of an awakening chess movement in the continent: facilitating the development and popularization of the discipline, supporting top players and attracting corporate sponsorship are among the key goals set by Ncube, Essoh, and Sitale:.

"We got along well with the other candidates," said Ncube. "We only have a different approach to the same core necessities."

Ncube is also confident of an increasing support from FIDE to African chess: "General Secretary Enyonam Sewa Fumey and Vice Presidents Olalekan Adeyemi and Tahar Battikh will work very well. With so many Africans in the FIDE presidential board, we will put our needs forward. We want to get better representation at international events, in light of our potential and great results like the performances of Egypt [19th overall], South Sudan, [top prize in the E group] and Zimbabwe [seeded 110th, ended 59th] at the Olympiad."

Here are two of the best games played by Egyptian star Amin Bassem in Batumi:

There seems to be a rising awareness of the power of sustainability and cooperation in African chess. "I asked the assembly if any unresolved grievance had to be brought up," stated Ncube, who then added, "We are increasing contacts with partners and sponsors all over the continent." Ncube's detractors will also be relieved to read his promise to foster accountability in the confederation. Additionally, new offices should be operative in Lusaka, Zambia, by 2019.

"Unity is the main achievement," said defeated candidate Tshepo Sitale. "Africa is now enlightened on what to expect from the ACC and federations will bring onto account what was promised. There should be novelties in governance and transparency, to allow federations to consistently do their part in this developing process. What's mostly important," he concluded, "is to realize that we are a small community and we need each other. Federations have very diverse needs but we should all work towards marketing chess as an educational tool and making it a popular sport for the broader audiences."

The promise of a brighter future is indeed on the lips of all front men of any administration. A structured and progressive agenda will have to come to terms with the ability to put it in place effectively. The ball is in the court of the ACC board, African chess federations and players who will have to do their part to drive the continent towards world-class standards and make sustainable development a reality.

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