Who will rescue our game from this hopeless man?

Jonathan Mashingaidze

Jonathan Mashingaidze

Bothwell Mahlengwe Sports Correspondent
WE have had virtually almost everyone against ZIFA — the media, ministers, players (current and former), coaches (current and former), supporters and the fans.Last year, ZIFA vice president Omega Sibanda made a lot of noise about anomalies at ZIFA House.

With all these people questioning him and his bankrupt organisation, Cuthbert Dube has remained defiant.

To him everyone else who criticises him must be an idiot.

In his dreams, he sees a country that one day is going to thank him for delivering us from the mess our football finds itself in.

For a while, it seemed the opposing voice had given up.

But, then, the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association and the Lifelong Footballers Trust picked up the fight.

Sports Minister Andrew Langa, to his credit, has been forced to look at some of the issues that have been raised by those who feel that our football is being driven in the wrong direction.

The back page of this newspaper on Wednesday screamed, “Is This The Worst Football Association In The World?”

This was after some ZIFA board members summoned the courage to face the monster that is eating into the game they love. Who is really running our football?

In any normal institution, the board is the supreme decision-making organ.

That’s where policies are formulated, the guiding principles upon which the institution is run.

Definitely, it’s not the ZIFA board that is running our football.

Neither is it Cuthbert Dube because the fellow is so clueless and divorced from what is happening in our game that one contributor to the feedback column on The Herald website, who called himself or herself Rukwela, summed it up this week in the Dennis Dauda debate.

“Does Cuthbert Dube know who this Dauda is and even what sport he plays?”

That’s damning and Rukwela is right because he is yet to see Dube either at a football game or a football function since he was re-elected as ZIFA president in March last year.

In the last FIVE years, Dube has only been to the National Sports Stadium once when Zimbabwe hosted Brazil in that international friendly.

He hasn’t even dared to set a foot at 53 Livingstone Avenue.

One can only assume that the man who is running our national game is ZIFA chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze.

As the memorandum (please note that it’s not a petition, as the ZIFA spin-doctors would like to term it) written by some, not all board members to Dube and Sibanda, Mashingaidze is now operating as a de-facto executive chairman of the association, sole custodian of our football and a football law unto himself.

This is the same man that Ian Gorowa and Gerald Maguranyanga branded a blatant liar, he is the same man whose “competency and commitment” has concerned his board.

The same man who recently presented an atrociously flawed bid to host the 2017 AFCON finals, the same man who has usurped the powers of the board member, finance and ensured that he is “systematically frustrated by being denied access to the association’s financial records and exclusion from the ZIFA debt discussions with FIFA officials.”

The same member who has ensured that “ . . . supervisory and policy-setting roles (of board members) have been eroded,” with “the appointment of the technical director, national team coaches and the management of coaching courses being examples.”

The same man who has ensured that the ZIFA secretariat has not even advised both FIFA and CAF that there has been a change of leadership in the women’s wing of the game about a year after the elections, the fellow who said “women’s football is petty . . .”

So, who can bring Mashingaidze to book?

Sadly, the recently-amended ZIFA constitution stipulates that only the board president and in this case Dube, is the only one with the power to hire and fire the ZIFA CEO.

One cannot blame the current board members for letting this anomaly pass because some of them were not decision makers when the constitution was being manipulated to ensure that it protected certain people, like Mashingaidze, and not serve football.

The CEO has turned into the supreme power and the board has been reduced into a white elephant and the board members turned into chess game pawns that Mashingaidze can use as and when he pleases.

All this has happened because of the craftiness of Dube and the input of Mashingaidze. Through the manipulation of the constitution, he has made himself untouchable.

Do we have the right people in the board or it’s a bunch of pretenders who lied to the football constituency?

We all knew that Dube was not going to save our football as his first term proved disastrous. And we celebrated when the board came out with some professionals from various fields and we expected them to at least, breathe life into our game.

Now they have slapped us back in the face. Did we put our expectations on the wrong crowd? Instead of being assertive, they have been turned into stooges as Mashingaidze runs his show, his game and his ZIFA.

Why are you giving Dube the option to ignore or delay your request?

“This communication is NOT a petition but a loud cry to you as our football leaders to appreciate and act on our concerns which we raise on behalf of the Zimbabwean family.”

Already, you are going to Dube with your tails between your legs and you expect him to entertain you?

You expect him to fire Mashingaidze?

What happened to Sibanda’s pleas? Was he entertained by Dube? So, what’s so special about you if he can ignore his deputy?

Guys wake up and smell the coffee.

If you are serious about “saving Zimbabwean football from further regression”, as you rightly put it, you have to do more than this plea.

You have to be more assertive and more aggressive. We have all come to know that it is the constitution that is flawed and it must be amended without fail so that the game does not belong to a cartel of the ZIFA president and his chief executive and a national game is led from a private house in Harare.

The Board should act as a collective authority, with shared responsibilities, not for us to have a one-man show while others watch as bystanders.

Eleven months have gone since your ascendancy at the ZIFA offices and you have been rendered powerless and useless by one man, with the helping hand of his leader.

Seriously?

Why not follow the precedence set by Regis Dzenga and resign en-masse if you continue to be “denied the opportunity to execute our mandate fully.”

Sadly, you are our last hope.

Our football revival depends on you.

You have to remove the cowardice jacket that you have put on and face Dube head on.

Otherwise, we are doomed.

Bothwell Mahlengwe is a banker and a former Premiership footballer. He  can be contacted, for feedback, on the e-mail —bmahlengwe.cb@gmail.com.