It’s now certain that, unless Zifa urgently lift the suspension of the officials who were suspended during a controversial board meeting on Monday, Cuthbert Dube and his lieutenants could be booted from their positions regardless of the possible consequences that such a move could have on Zimbabwe’s relationship with Fifa.
The 14 officials who were suspended include Zifa vice-president, Omega Sibanda, and board member finance, Ben Gwarada, while the leadership of the regions -- who last year were accused of not having backed Dube’s re-election bid, has been decimated with 11 of them being hammered in the purge.
It’s a repeat of 2004 when Zifa, with Jonathan Mashingaidze as chief executive, also suspended seven councillors -- Francis Zimunya, Admore Nyamuramba, Benedict Moyo, Pharaoh Jele, Leonard Nkala, Aaron Munautsi and Andrew Tapela -- from the game for fighting against the game’s leadership back then.
Sports Commission director-general, Charles Nhemachena, reacted angrily to the news that more than a dozen Zifa leaders have been suspended, in the latest purge, and said he was only waiting for the official communication, from Mashingaidze, for them to act to bring the madness to an end.
Nhemachena said Zifa had disregarded advice from the Sports Commission and the government on how to handle their affairs and the suspensions of the game’s leaders was one step too far that could not be tolerated.
He said all options were available, and the strong tone of his statement clearly made it clear that the possibility of the Zifa board being dissolved was part of the package of sanctions, in the event normalcy was not restored at the association.
“The Sports and Recreation Commission notes with concern, the continued turmoil in the governance of football in the country,” Nhemachena said. “The reported suspensions of some members by the Zifa board yesterday (Monday), in addition to the earlier suspension of the Women’s Football representative on the board are but a manifestation of the dysfunctional governance that now characterises the administration of the beautiful game of football.
“The recent action to suspend some of the Zifa council and board members, as afore-mentioned, is in complete disregard of the advice that the Commission and, indeed, the Ministry has been giving to the Zifa board -- specifically on the need to work as a team and to desist from engaging in actions that would shift their focus from the primary goal of football development and developing the sport into an industry that is capable of contributing meaningfully to the ideals of youth empowerment, employment creation and growing the economy.
“It’s apparent that the dysfunctional conflicts that now characterise the football leadership are so deep-rooted to the extent that no meaningful effort towards the development of football can be expected. This, coupled with other glaring inadequacies of our football leadership, has become a serious threat to our national interests.”
Nhemachena said they acknowledged that the nation was anxious to see how they will act to stop this madness and promised that, once they get the official communication, they will act accordingly in discharging their mandate.
“The Commission notes and appreciates the anxiety of the nation at large created by the goings on in Zifa, and the understandable impatience for corrective action to be taken immediately,” said Nhemachena.
“The Commission will, as a matter of priority, review Zifa’s actions in detail once the official report on the suspensions has been received, and corrective action will thereafter be taken as necessary, due regard being given to due process.”
Interestingly, Zifa, having noted that they might have blundered in executing their suspensions, deliberately changed the agenda of the board meeting, when they posted their statement on their website yesterday, to try and suit the decisions to suspend the officials. “The Zifa board convened for a meeting at the Zifa Village and Conference Centre on 15 June in the presence of all board members, including the Acting Chairperson of Women Football Elizabeth Langa, the association’s lawyer, Raphael Maganga and the General Secretary Jonathan Mashingaidze,” Zifa said in their statement.
“Items on the agenda for the board meeting were – 1) SUSPENSIONS; 2) Fifa mission updates; 3) National teams; 4) 2015 Zifa AGM.”
However, the agenda that was sent by Mashingaidze for the board meeting held on Monday said they were going to discuss “suspension of members”, as item number 7.1
There is a huge difference between an agenda that only talks about “suspensions”, as posted on the Zifa website yesterday, and one that discusses “suspension of members” given that the description of who is a member, and who is not, provides a fine dividing line that could, legal experts say, make a huge difference. “Suspensions is a broad word and ‘Suspensions of Members’ is specific and therein lies the technicality because, you can say yes, the Zifa board is empowered to effect suspensions but is the same Board empowered to suspend ‘Members’, as they said in their agenda, and who fits that description?” the expert said.
“Who are the ‘members’, are they the affiliates and, if so, does the board have the power to suspend such affiliates? What about the board members, are they the same as affiliates, you can see, with the way the statement about the agenda is now being doctored that someone might have realised that they messed up in a very big way.”
Mashingaidze said they suspended the officials for “attending illegal meetings and were working towards making football ungovernable.
“The suspensions which took effect as of Monday 15 June 2015 were effected in terms of Article 34(n) of the Zifa constitution.
“The following were provisionally suspended -- Zifa board (Omega Sibanda, vice-president); Bernard Gwarada (board member); Northern Region (Willard Manyengavana, chairperson), Martin Kweza (vice-chairperson), Sweeny Mushonga (board member); Southern Region (Musa Mandaza, chairperson), Tumediso Ndlovu (board member), Brighton Malandule (board member); Eastern Region (Piraishe Mabhena, chairperson), Davison Muchena (board member), Central Region (Felton Kamambo, chairperson), Patrick Hill (vice-chairperson); Matebeleland North (Dennis Tshuma, chairperson), Beach Soccer -- Joseph Musariri (chairperson).
“The aforementioned individuals have been informed of their suspensions and they will be furnished with detailed charge sheets in due course and they will be suspended pending appearance before the Zifa Disciplinary Committee.
“The board also ratified the suspension of Miriam Sibanda from her position as Women Football chairperson. The board also resolved that there be continuous assessment of the state of football and focussing on the performance of the board, assembly, secretariat and technical arms of the association.”