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FIFA ready to lift Zimbabwe suspension if Kamambo is reinstated

by Staff reporter
17 Mar 2023 at 07:28hrs | Views
THE FIFA Congress yesterday confirmed they are ready to lift ZIFA's prolonged suspension from the international football family "as soon as the pertinent requirements have been fulfilled".

Zimbabwe were back in the spotlight yesterday as the global football parliament met in Kigali, Rwanda, for the annual indaba and voted to uphold ZIFA's suspension, contrary to the chilling assumptions peddled ahead of the FIFA's 73rd congress that the association would be expelled entirely from the international football family.

Apart from Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka were also added to the blacklist due to "third-party interference" in the Football Federation of Sri Lanka's elections as well as deviating from the electoral roadmap agreed to by FIFA and the Sri Lankan football authorities.  

ZIFA, in their case, have been suspended for over a year now after FIFA invoked Article 13 of the world football statutes, which stripped the association of all its membership rights and accompanying privileges as of February 24, 2022.

And, as the FIFA congress met for the annual football indaba for the first time in Rwanda, the gathering voted to uphold ZIFA's suspension. FIFA president Gianni Infantino moved the motion and the organisation's secretary-general Fatma Samoura conducted the vote which passed the resolution.

The members in attendance were almost unanimous after 199 backed the embargo to remain. Only one member was against Zimbabwe's continued suspension.

The same gathering also empowered the FIFA Council, which is the main decision-making body of the organisation in the intervals of FIFA Congress, to lift the suspension.

"The FIFA council suspended the Zimbabwe Football Association on 24 February 2022 with immediate effect due to third-party interference," said Infantino.

"In particular, the takeover of the activities of the Zimbabwe Football Association by a so-called ‘restructuring committee' appointed by the Government, after the latter had suspended the executive committee and general secretary, which constitutes serious violation of the FIFA Statutes.

"On 31 March 2022, the 72nd FIFA congress confirmed the suspension of the Zimbabwe Football Association.

"Unfortunately, since the Zimbabwe Football Association has not yet fulfilled the requirements to lift the suspension, it is recommended that the congress once more confirm the suspension of the Zimbabwe Football Association, enabling at the same time the council to lift the suspension as soon as the pertinent requirements have been fulfilled," stated the world football boss.

ZIFA was suspended last year on allegations of "third party interference". This was after the Sports and Recreation Commission had suspended the association's leadership on accusations of corruption, mismanagement of public funds and sexual harassment of female referees.

The rot at ZIFA led to the suspension of the ZIFA leadership led by Felton Kamambo in November 2021.

Kamambo and some members of the ousted executive members are still facing court charges over fraud and bribery.

Some members of the suspended executive, who included Barbara Chikosi and Farai Jere and Sugar Chagonda, were reinstated last year.

But Kamambo and two other members Bryton Malandule and Philemon Machana, who are still battling to clear their names at the Harare Magistrates' Courts, have since been kicked out of office in a vote of no confidence passed by the ZIFA congress in April last year.

While ZIFA were missing in action for the second year running at the FIFA Congress, Football Kenya Federation, whose suspension was lifted recently, were represented at the Congress by General Secretary Barry Otieno and VP Doris Petra.

FIFA suspended the FKF and ZIFA at the same time last year citing third-party interference after authorities had stepped in to address allegations of corruption by the office holders.

However, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba announced in November that the federation would be reinstated, but warned former president Nick Mwendwa, who is facing corruption charges, not to return to the KFK until the case was resolved.

A letter from FIFA said it had "decided on November 25, 2022, to lift the suspension of the FKF with immediate effect, following the local government's decision to reinstate FKF.

But Zimbabwe remain in the woods for now. Infantino told delegates at the Congress yesterday that the situation in Zimbabwe has not changed to warrant a review of the suspension. FIFA have given Zimbabwe conditions for reinstatement which they stated in their letter of suspension.  

"Furthermore, and without prejudice to the ongoing investigations into the allegations of sexual harassment and bribery, the FIFA Council decided that the lifting of the suspension be subject to the following conditions:

The repeal of the SRC decision of 26 November 2020 suspending the ZIFA General Secretary

The repeal of the SRC decision of 16 November 2021 suspending the ZIFA Board

The repeal of the SRC decision of 17 December 2021 setting up the restructuring committee

FIFA's receipt of confirmation from ZIFA and its management, led by President Felton Kamambo and General Secretary Joseph Mamutse, that ZIFA and its premises are once more under their full and unconditional control

The withdrawal of the SRC's legal complaint against the ZIFA President, three other ZIFA Board members and the General Secretary regarding alleged misuse of the ZIFA letterheads."

So far the Sports Commission have acceded to the request that the suspension of the general-secretary Joseph Mamutse be lifted. This was done on May 24, 2022.

However, Mamutse did not return to work. He was subsequently suspended by ZIFA for his truancy. The disciplinary processes relating to this were a matter for ZIFA to process.

The Sports Commission also lifted the suspension of the ZIFA board on June 8 last year but the board returned without Kamambo and ex-board members Philemon Machana and Bryton Malandule who had been recalled by the ZIFA Congress two months back.

According to the Sports Commission chairman Gerald Mlotshwa, FIFA were advised of the outcome of the ZIFA extraordinary congress of April 23, 2022, and of SRC's intentions.

He said FIFA stated that it would not interfere with the resolutions of congress so long as the meeting had been held in accordance with ZIFA's constitution.

Accordingly, the SRC lifted the suspension of the members of the executive committee lawfully in office as at April 24, 2022, which saw Gift Banda bouncing back as interim ZIFA president.

"It is a fact that Mr Felton Kamambo is no longer the ZIFA president, having been recalled by his own congress. It follows, logically, that the SRC is not able to reinstate him to that position.

"Any such attempt would, ironically, be blatantly unlawful in terms of ZIFA's current constitution, as well as the Sports and Recreation Commission Act.

"It is most regrettable that certain legislators continue to demand the SRC ignore the resolutions of the ZIFA congress, violate ZIFA's constitution, and, incredibly, its own Act, a product of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, in reinstating Mr Kamambo," said Mlotshwa in a recent interview.

Source - The Herald