Eddie Chikamhi and Grace Chingoma
THE Sport and Recreation Commission are adamant that the process of reforming local football will only succeed once the ZIFA Congress meet to discuss the forthcoming forensic audit report and recommendations of the Restructuring Committee.
This comes as the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation has compiled a report on the state of Football administration in Zimbabwe directing the Sports Commission to reinstate recalled ZIFA board members led by former president Felton Kamambo.
The legislators’ bid also flies into the face of the ZIFA constitution which the association’s Congress used on April 23 to revoke Kamambo’s mandate and that of his board members Philemon Machana and Bryton Malandule.
The Sports Commission, who are expected to release the findings of the ZIFA forensic audit in the coming days, said they have noted the Parliamentary Sports Portfolio report with great interest.
“The SRC is studying the report with great interest and will issue a statement in due course,” said the sports regulator in a brief statement yesterday.
Apparently, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee came out with guns blazing in a 12-page report, demanding that the Sports Commission reverse their earlier decisions, which had included the suspension of the ZIFA board.
They also want the Sports Commission to withdraw the court cases where Kamambo and his colleagues are facing corruption charges.
The report also recommended the amendment of the SRC Act.
“The Committee made the following recommendations: 6.1 By 31 October 2022 the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation should ensure that SRC Board has repealed its decision of; (a) 26 November 2020 which suspended the ZIFA General Secretary; (b) 16 November 2021 which suspended the ZIFA Board and; (c) 17 December 2021 which established the ZIFA Restructuring Committee; in order to pave way for the lifting of the ban imposed by FIFA on Zimbabwe from participating in international football competitions.
“6.2 By 31 October 2022 the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation should ensure that SRC has dissolved the current ZIFA board and reinstate the Felton Kamambo led ZIFA board.
“6.3 By 31 December 2022 the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation should amend section 34 of the SRC Act Chapter 25:15 in order to provide for a fair hearing or a fine or an appeal mechanism before coming up with decision to suspend.
“6.4 By end of 31 December 2022 the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation should align the SRC Act Chapter 25:15 with statutes of international federations governing all sport codes especially those that deals with channels of communication and mechanisms of dispute resolution.
“6.5 The Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation should ensure that SRC always make thorough investigations based on evidence in order to come up with unquestionable decisions,” read part of the statement.
A local football expert yesterday said by pushing for Kamambo’s reinstatement, when the administrator was lawfully recalled by his constituency, the portfolio committee risked pushing an agenda that is unconstitutional. He said most of the issues noted in the report have been overtaken by events.
“All what that report is talking about has been overtaken by events because they are not taking into account what happened with the football parliament, that is the Congress, that then revoked the mandate of those guys.
“So how do they want SRC to do something that is unconstitutional, according to the ZIFA and FIFA constitutions?
“So it’s just a nullity if you look at it holistically, because Kamambo’s mandate was revoked by Congress, who are the supreme decision making body.
“I don’t think parliament has got that power to force unconstitutional things,” said the expert.
But the Sports Commission have long stuck to their guns and have vowed to cleanse Zimbabwean football before applying for reinstatement by FIFA. They have since set up a Restructuring Committee led by Blessing Rugara.
The nine-member committee, whose term of office will run up to December 2022, is undertaking matters of a strategic nature, as outlined in their terms of reference, in line with the provisions of Section 21, 19(b), and 20 (c) of the SRC Act.
The Committee has engaged BDO Chartered Accountants to conduct a forensic audit at 53 Livingstone Avenue to determine whether there has been any activity of a criminal nature, particularly that related to exchange control violations and money laundering.
Kamambo is facing corruption charges at the Magistrates’ Courts from allegations of vote-buying during the elections that brought him into office in 2018. He is also being jointly charged for fraudulently using the ZIFA letterhead at a time when his board was under suspension.
The ZIFA board was suspended by SRC last November. In turn ZFA was also suspected by FIFA in April because of third party interference.
However, the Sports Commission have since lifted the suspension and the board has returned without Kamambo, Malandule and Machana, who were ousted by the ZIFA Congress via a vote of no confidence in April. Vice-president Gift Banda was elevated to take over the reins at the same Congress meeting.
Kamambo’s board also faced allegations of sexual harassment of female referees, which have since resulted in a five-year ban of former ZIFA official Obert Zhoya by FIFA. Zhoya was also fined US$20 400 after he was convicted of the offence.
A source within SRC indicated the sports regulator is skeptical about the recommendations made by the parliamentary portfolio committee, which could reverse the gains made in the last few months.
The source also pointed out several errors of fact, and even charged that one of the members of the parliamentary portfolio committee, Omega Sibanda, is an interested party who has taken sides in the ZIFA issues.
“… the report is obviously authored by Omega Sibanda, with very little input or even knowledge of the other committee members. It is riddled with embarrassing errors.
“The recommendations violate both international and domestic law norms, and display an alarming ignorance of the governance shortcomings within ZIFA; luckily FIFA has acknowledged these shortcomings by banning a senior ZIFA official for sexual harassment of female referees.
“The committee recommendations implicitly condone sexual harassment and other corrupt practices within the running of football and tread upon the statutory mandate and independence of the SRC.
“FIFA acknowledges the problems within ZIFA as does the Executive arm of Government and the judicial arm of the State.
“The SRC is likely to ignore completely the committee’s report and be guided by the findings of the restructuring committee, the BDO forensic audit report as well as, ultimately, the ZIFA Congress whose authority over football issues the committee doesn’t appear to understand or appreciate, deliberately or otherwise”.
The forensic audit is expected to address the allegations of corruption and shadowy financial transactions that led to the suspension of the ZIFA board by the Sports commission, among a raft of other transgressions, last year.
The national sports regulator has already given a timeline of the audit report that was conducted by BDO Chartered Accountants. The Sports Commission acting director-general Sebastain Garikai told The Herald this week that the report would be availed once they receive it.
“The Sports and Recreation Commission is yet to receive the ZIFA Audit report. However, we are confident that the report will be availed.
“The public will be notified through the relevant channels in that regard,” said Garikai.