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SRC dissolves Zifa, ready for backlash

by Staff reporter
17 Nov 2021 at 05:11hrs | Views
THE Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) have dissolved the ZIFA board and are ready for the storm which their decision could provoke, including the possible suspension of Zimbabwe, from international football.

It's the second dissolution of the leadership of football, in an African country, in as many weeks after Kenyan authorities also wielded the axe on those who were running the game in the East African nation.

Expectations had been high that something big could explode in local football after the Warriors' worst World Cup campaign in their history ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw against Ethiopia, at the National Sports Stadium, on Sunday.

And, on Monday night the SRC cracked the whip and suspended the ZIFA board led by president Felton Kamambo, whose other members are Philemon Machana, Bryton Malandule, Sugar Chagonda, Farai Jere and Barbra Chikosi.

An interim committee to run the affairs of the country's biggest but troubled sports code is expected to be named soon by Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry.

It will be expected to run the organisation until fresh elections are held.

The ZIFA Assembly, which has also been noted as an Achilles heel, will also be looked into.

SRC board chairman Gerald Mlotshwa told a media conference in Harare yesterday that the decision was taken at their board meeting on Monday evening.

It was communicated to the ZIFA board yesterday.

Mlotshwa, flanked by board members Nigel Munyati, Karen Mutasa, Gail van Jaarsveldt and acting director-general Sebastian Garikai, said they were ready for the long haul in ensuring they finally address the challenges which keep blighting local football.

They expect FIFA to understand the reasons they intervened, averting a possible confrontation with the world football controlling body which is usually highly protective of those in charge of national associations.

The SRC board have had engagements with the various stakeholders, including FIFA, over the last two years.

However, should FIFA decide to side with those who have been thrown out of office and impose sanctions on Zimbabwean football, Mlotshwa said they were ready for the bumper ride.

This could lead to the expulsion of the Warriors from the 2021 AFCON finals in Cameroon in January next year.

Such a grim scenario, while regrettable, said Mlotshwa would be a sacrifice worth enduring for the sake of ensuring the future of domestic football would be given a chance to flourish.

Two years ago, the Sports Commission suspended the Zimbabwe Cricket leadership, but were forced to rescind their decision after the  International Cricket Council threw the country out of their family of nations and cut off funding for the game.

The Chevrons and Lady Chevrons were also thrown out of the ICC tournaments.

However, Mlotshwa said they had now learnt their lessons and this was a different intervention from the one they did in cricket.

"In as far as ZIFA is concerned, I think what we all appreciate is that unlike cricket, in many respects, cricket we moved in quite rapidly for cogent reasons,'' said Mlotshwa.

"I believe, what we didn't take into account at that time, was not so much the internal sentiments here in Zimbabwe as far as the public is concerned, but we didn't take into account the reality of politics of sport, as far as cricket is concerned.

"I would like to think that, in so far as ZIFA is concerned, we have done the necessary consultations, spoken to the people that need to be spoken to, I am talking about individuals, organisations et cetera.

"So, we are prepared in many respects for whatever might happen, and when I say whatever might happen, I am talking of, look, let's be frank about things, if FIFA moves in and decides to ban Zimbabwean football, we are prepared for that, I think we have planned for that.

"If that does happen, we will always look at it being a short-term measure, as far as FIFA is concerned, and we need that.

"I think Zimbabwean football needs this space, this opportunity, just to fix itself up. If that takes us a year, takes us two years, and we are out of international football, I think that's fine, and everyone accepts that.

"If we are suspended from AFCON in January next year, believe me, and I will say it very strongly, we are prepared for that, which is fine.

"We need to deal with football.''

He said dissolving the ZIFA board was an easy decision, given their charge sheet and if there was any regret, then it came from not having done so earlier.

"The Sports and Recreation Commission hereby informs the public that upon extensive consultations and further deliberations on matters relating to the governance and management of football in Zimbabwe, the SRC board has, with immediate effect, suspended the ZIFA board, in accordance with the Sports & Recreation Act,'' read the statement.

"This decision has been considered following several incidents of gross incompetence on the part of ZIFA, such conduct and/or omissions being contrary to the national interest, as provided for in terms of Section 30 (i) (c) of the SRC Act.

"For purposes of clarity, Section 30 of the SRC Act states that -:

(1) Where the board considers that any registered national association – : (c) has conducted itself in a manner which is contrary to national interest; the board may, after affording the association concerned an opportunity of making representations in the matter, do either or both of the following -:

 i). Suspend all or

ii). Any of its officers.''

Mlotshwa then read out some of the transgressions which led to the suspension of the ZIFA board.

"The following are some of the non-exhaustive examples, many of which are already in the public domain, that have resulted in this suspension -:

1). Mismanagement and lack of accountability in the use of public funds with specific reference to the letter issued to ZIFA on July 3, 2019, where ZIFA was asked to account fully for the use of public funds in the aftermath of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign. The letter has not been responded to at all.

2). The sending of national teams, outside of Zimbabwe, without Covid-19 clearances from the SRC.

3). The SRC is also in receipt of a report of alleged sexual harassment of female referees by key technical staff within ZIFA. Despite several requests for the matter to be decisively dealt with, ZIFA did not give the matter adequate attention in view of its gravity. Whereas the nation has made significant strides in empowering the girl child to be an active participant in sports, incidences of sexual harassment should be conclusively dealt with to enable a conducive environment for participation by all.

4). Failure to address gender imbalances relating to the treatment of female national teams, compared to their male counterparts in terms of allowances, up-keep and unfavourable operating conditions.

5). Failure to address and make appropriate investment of the development fund as provided by FIFA for grassroots and junior football development.

6. No evidence of any meaningful development at grassroots level.

7. A looming constitutional crisis within ZIFA viz pending elections.''

Mloshwa said it wasn't their mandate to come up with a caretaker leadership.

"I think what has happened, and without pre-empting too much, what will happen next is that an interim committee would be appointed, the minister is the one who is responsible for that,'' he said.

"Our job as SRC is to make those recommendations to the minister, we have got a list of names, and I believe they are good credible people, and it is those people that will come in and start dealing with things from the administrative perspective rather than this board getting involved.''

Mutasa, the SRC board member, expects FIFA to be supportive and to even assist them during this transitional period.

"We anticipate that it's possible that we could be banned by FIFA but we would hope that they would want to see the evidence that's presented to them and that they will co-operate and work with us to build football in Zimbabwe, for the sake of the nation, but also the incredible athletes that we have," said Mutasa.

Source - The Herald