Zim football healing process kicks-off

Source: Zim football healing process kicks-off | Herald (Top Stories)

IN FULL CONTROL . . . Acting ZIFA president, Gift Banda (right), addresses the media in Harare yesterday in the presence of the association’s board member competitions, Sugar Chagonda. — Photo by Kuda Hunda

Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter

AFTER years of polarisation, fanned by toxic football leadership, interim ZIFA president Gift Banda and his board find themselves seized with the urgent need to restore domestic football to good health and to champion the development agenda of the game that was run down by corruption and squabbles.

Banda, who was recently appointed by the ZIFA Congress to steer the ship following the recalling of Felton Kamambo and two other board members, yesterday articulated their vision for the remainder of the term.

Along with board members Barbara Chikosi, Farai Jere and Sugar Chagonda, the board was yesterday facing the media for the first time after the Sports and Recreation Commission had approved the Congress’ resolutions.

“Firstly, I want to thank members of the ZIFA Congress for entrusting me with the huge national responsibility to move the football parliament’s agenda and vision forward.

“I join the rest of my fellow executive committee members, whose mandate was not revoked at the recently held ZIFA EGM, fully cognisant of the tasks which lie ahead of us, as was outlined at the same EGM.

“And, on behalf of my fellow executive committee members, I promise we will not disappoint you. You will all agree with me that our football has gone through a lot over the years, and it is time we give football a breath of fresh air.

“I would like to salute the football council for correcting the mistakes that had been made by entrusting our football in the hands of selfish individuals whose goal was to enrich themselves at the expense of football development.

“I also would want to thank the Government, through the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, and the Sports and Recreation Commission, for understanding and accepting the steps taken by the owners of football, that is, the ZIFA Congress, to address the challenges, which were affecting our game’s leadership and management system.

“By lifting the imposed suspensions, the SRC has chosen to give football a chance to cleanse itself and the gesture is well appreciated. We have taken heed of our shortcomings and we will work hard to ensure that there is good governance in football, at all material times,” said Banda.

But it could be difficult to move forward because of the deep-seated divisions in domestic football. The rifts were also on display in the run-up to the special EGM, which ousted Kamambo, board member finance Philemon Machana and Bryton Malandule.

Banda, who was a victim of the politicking after he was shut out of office within a month of his election as ZIFA vice-president, said it was time to bring back all interested parties to push for the development agenda.

“Yes, there are divisions in football. It’s there for everyone to see but with my board, we are not coming in here with any agenda of sidelining people or revenge or whatever it is.

“We are saying football must be the winner at the end of the day. If you see the number of councillors at the AGM, where we had about 45 out of 58, it tells you that we were nearly fully subscribed.

“There are those who opted not to attend the EGM, it’s within their rights. There are some who also may still be living in the past, it’s also within their right but what we can assure everyone is that we won’t go to try and do witch-hunting because it’s not good for football,” said Banda.

Apart from the revocations and the elevation of Banda to the position of acting president, the football parliamentarians also absolved board members Jere, Chikosi and Chagonda from the charges that the committee faced at their April 23 extraordinary meeting.

The resolutions have since been upheld by the Sports Commission and the ZIFA Congress has given the board the following mandate:

  • To call for an AGM, which will pave the way in coming up with a road map for elections for all our structures
  • To institute a forensic audit

To engage FIFA, as we strive to ensure that Zimbabwe’s suspension is lifted, leading to readmission to the international community

In their efforts to bring healing, Banda confirmed they have successfully negotiated with the Sports Commission to lift the suspension of chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse.

The ZIFA CEO, who was suspended in November 2020, however, has not responded to the call.

Banda also announced they beefed-up the office by roping in the association’s spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela to the position of Chief Operations Officer, working along with Mamutse.

“I think everyone is aware that Mamutse’s suspension was lifted by the SRC. That he has decided not to report for work, we have written to him as an association demanding that he reports for work.

“If he continues not to report for work, it becomes a labour issue because you can’t drag someone from his house to come to work if he feels he is not ready or is no longer interested to come to work.

“We are going to wait for the mandatory period as required by the Labour Act to see what course of action can be taken against him if he continues to absent himself without any valid reasons.

“We all know that Mamutse’s suspension was never tied to the board suspension. It was done prior to the board being suspended and we engaged the SRC to try and make sure that his suspension was lifted, which we succeeded. That he is not coming to work, it becomes a labour issue,” said Banda.

ZIFA are currently under suspension from FIFA after the world football governing body ruled that the suspension of the Kamambo-led ZIFA board last November by the Sports Commission constituted “third party interference”.

Banda said engagements will continue with the Sports Commission, FIFA and other relevant stakeholders to make sure that normalcy returned to Zimbabwean football.

“We are aware of the frustrations that the football family is currently experiencing, especially the anxiety punctuated with the confusion on whether our beloved Warriors and Mighty Warriors will be able to participate in the forthcoming international tournaments.

“I want to assure the nation that there is a lot happening behind the scenes and we are very hopeful of succeeding on this score. The executive committee will be meeting soon to plan on how to tackle all the tasks at hand, in line with the dictates of the ZIFA constitution.

“This will lead to a call for the convening of the pending Annual General Meeting whose notice was already served. This will give the football parliament an opportunity to install members of the electoral committee, who are going to come up with the election road map to elect the new ZIFA leadership across the spectrum.

“Let me hasten to say that as we get into the office, we will ensure that all books of accounts are audited through a forensic audit.

“The committee’s desire is to pave the way for a new culture of doing things within our football and ensure that the legacy issues are all resolved.

“This is what is going to build investor confidence and attract sponsors to football,” said Banda.

“Our culture of doing business at ZIFA House must change. It mustn’t be business as usual.

“We will reconstitute the Constitutional Review Committee with the hope of addressing the shortcomings of the current statutes and ensure that it is aligned to the FIFA statutes.

“This will bring a new dawn in our football. We are assuming office at a time where the in-tray is full of items to be actioned.

“Operations at the football headquarters will continue as normal with Joseph Mamutse as the General Secretary while Xolisani Gwesela will now assume the position of Chief Operations Officer to optimise secretariat’s work.

“We will give the secretariat maximum support as it will grow the beautiful game,” said Banda.

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