Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
UNDER-FIRE ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube’s days as leader of domestic football are now numbered and he could be kicked out of office, as early as the next seven days, as the Government piles on relentless pressure for him to be relieved of his duties.
The embattled Harare business executive could either be forced out by the Government, irrespective of the consequences from Fifa, or his board could disintegrate, with the majority of its members quitting in protest over his management style, leaving him isolated and unable to hold on to power.
His five-year reign as ZIFA boss is all but over after an unprecedented attack on his leadership by the Government in Parliament on Wednesday, the latest, and most significant, voice to criticise his continued stay as the local game’s leader.
Dube and his divided board are expected to meet the Sports Commission tomorrow and that indaba is the beginning of the formal engagements that have been lined up for the eventual announcement of either his dismal or resignation within the next week.
There were attempts yesterday by the ZIFA secretariat to try and only invite board members believed to be sympathetic to Dube to the meeting with the Sports Commission, while others, who have been critical of the way the organisation has been run in the past year, were not being invited.
The same tactic was used when Fifa officials came here to discuss the association’s poor financial status last year and ZIFA board members, who were deemed as critical of the way the finances have been handled, were left out of the meetings.
The ZIFA board has been divided, with Dube having the support of his chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze and Fungai Chihuri, who went to South Africa towards the end of last year to attend a Cosafa meeting, acting as the association president, even when the ZIFA vice-president, Omega Sibanda, was available.
Former Warriors star John Phiri was considered a member of that group which is supportive of Dube, but the ex-Zimbabwe international defender has been critical, in recent months, of the way the game is being run by the secretariat.
Some ZIFA board members recently sent a memorandum to Dube and Sibanda highlighting the flaws in the way the game was being run and questioning how Mashingaidze, who is just an employee of the organisation, has been given the freedom to run the show with neither guidance nor censure on the occasions he messes up.
Rather than attending to the issues raised in the memorandum, Dube and Mashingaidze have launched a tag-team manhunt, trying to find out the identity of the board members who raised those issues, and issuing threats that some of them could be kicked out of the game.
However, it appears that Dube could be the first one to go.
Just a day after telling Parliament that it was better for Zimbabwe to face Fifa sanctions, including a possible ban from international football while the nation addresses the leadership crisis that the game finds itself in, Kanengoni-Malinga yesterday piled more pressure on Dube.
She said Government’s action was imminent and the indaba between Sports Commission and the ZIFA board, which was proposed by Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa, was not going to change a lot since the authorities knew the problems that the game was facing.
“The problem that we are having in ZIFA is a management issue. I saw the response that Cuthbert Dube gave to what we were saying and it’s not about how much you have, and money they get, they get money from Fifa,” said Kanengoni-Malinga.
“Cuthbert has been in this position for many years, but you don’t see positive results in terms of the management side of football.
“I speak to some board members in ZIFA, I won’t mention names, but there are so many complaints about it being the Cuthbert/Mashingaidze show.
“In terms of corporate funding we have been trying to get the corporate world to come on aboard and fund football and all that stuff but because of the fact that Cuthbert Dube is there, they don’t want anything to do with ZIFA.
“They want nothing to do with football because they don’t feel that their funds would be safe in their hands.
“So the corporate world will only respond when they know that their investment is in safe hands and right now they don’t feel that. And the only way for us to get them on board, revamp, rebuild and restructure is to get rid of this board that is there right now.
“This is an issue that needed to be taken care of yesterday so it’s in urgent mode and so something has to be definitely done soon.
“We have to make sure that whatever we do is procedural. If you do something in a haphazard way you don’t get the intended result. What we actually want is to fix things, not just in ZIFA, but football in general and in all other disciplines.”
Kanengoni-Malinga said she was waiting for a meeting with Langa and a position on how to proceed will emerge from that indaba.
She said Dube’s criticism of the Government for not giving his board the financial support they want was misplaced.
“He might say whatever he wants to say about the Government. But Government is not the one that told him not to morally support the team,” said Kanengoni-Malinga.
“He has not gone to watch the teams play, even if you don’t have a single cent it costs nothing to go and give moral support to the team by being there as the president of ZIFA which he has not been able to do.
“They are in so much in debt people call us asking us to help them to recover their monies. There is another person who actually went to court recently and couldn’t recover anything because they have to wait in a queue because everyone is trying to get ZIFA assets.
“That has nothing to do with what the Government, it has everything to do with a terrible management style that is present in ZIFA and if, as Government, we continue to smile and look at it, we are not going to go anywhere and we will continue discrediting the (football) talent that we have in the country.
“So we are going to look at everything that needs to be done and like I said if Fifa is going to ban us then that’s fine, we are okay with that because what we want is to go to the drawing board, build our team, qualify for all the tournaments we need to qualify for and we want to go back to the Zimbabwe, the Warriors that we know, we want to go back to those days.
“It’s a waste of money to continue doing what we are doing now with no results. But it’s better to actually put in resources into rebuilding and rebuilding a proper football association, a proper team.”
Kanengoni-Malinga said women’s football has badly suffered in the past year.
“Women’s football is suffering. I spoke to Mr Dube sometime back when we had our indaba at the ZIFA Village and I spoke to him at length about supporting the Mighty Warriors and not sideline them and making sure they continue to do well as they have been doing better than the boys,” said Kanengoni-Malinga .
“He promised me he was going to do something but nothing has been done.
“Last year the girls even failed to play their Unity Day match, which they do annually. But instead of focusing on that Unity Day match they were focusing on another game that was supposed to happen in South Africa for the boys.
“I thought that was totally out of order, their priorities are definitely not in the right place.”