Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ZIFA chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, branded Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister, Tabitha Kanengoni-Malinga, an âignorantâ and âill-informedâ Government official who was driving a âmisguidedâ mission to try and remove the countryâs embattled football leadership.
Mashingaidze, who last month described a group of critics, who sparked the movement to pile pressure on the ZIFA board, as a group of âvampiresâ and âcriminalsâ, turned his blazing guns on Kanengoni-Malinga in a letter he sent to FIFA last week.
It has emerged that Mashingaidze sought protection from FIFA, just a day after Kanengoni-Malinga piled the pressure on the ZIFA board, with a scathing attack on the domestic football leadership in Parliament last Wednesday. The Herald can reveal today that Mashingaidzeâs letter begging for protection, from FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke last Thursday, provoked the response which came from the world football governing body on Saturday and grabbed headlines here on Monday.
Valcke, in his letter to ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube, warned that Zimbabwe could be thrown out of FIFA family, as part of a cocktail of sanctions, should the Government be deemed to be interfering in the running of football in this country.
The ZIFA spin-doctors have been feasting on that letter from FIFA, painting a picture that the Zurich-based organisation have thrown their support behind Dube, in solidarity with the under-fire boss of domestic football, without the local football leadership soliciting for that protection.
It has been hailed as a massive victory for Dube who was said to be holding all the aces now that FIFA had come out and said they were fighting in his corner.
But, what was conveniently hidden, was the fact that FIFA were responding to an agenda that had been set by Mashingaidze who, expectedly, gave the world football governing body a one-angled story in which the ZIFA leadership was being threatened by a monster that needed to be tamed.
Mashingaidze laid the agenda in his letter to FIFA by addressing his subject as âGovernment interference in the running of football affairs in Zimbabwe,â and saying pressure was being exerted to force the removal of the ZIFA board.
He accused the Government of coming up with âtrumped-up chargesâ and pursuing an âill-informed moveâ to try and remove the ZIFA leadership.
There was even a prescription, laid out by Mashingaidze, which he said FIFA should give to Government.
The ZIFA chief executive was severe, in his criticism of Kanengoni-Malinga, telling the FIFA leadership that the Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister was being driven by âignoranceâ and âgeneral disregard of statutesâ that govern football.
Mashingaidze even begged FIFA to caution the Government, about the possibility that Zimbabwe could be thrown out of international football, before the meeting between ZIFA and the Sports Commission that was held last Saturday.
The ZIFA chief executive said that meeting was part of the Governmentâs mission, to oust the ZIFA leadership and he told FIFA that they were being headed into a meeting whose agenda they were not aware of.
Mashingaidze even attached a number of local newspaper reports to buttress his position that the Government was certain to oust the ZIFA leadership.
He even claimed that the Government, through Kanengoni-Malinga, was attacking the institution of FIFA and there was need for the Zurich-based organisation to act to protect its integrity.
âThe Zimbabwe Football Association is concerned about the pressure being exerted by the Government through the Deputy Minister of Arts, Sports and Cultureâs misleading utterances in the media,â Mashingaidze wrote in his letter to FIFA.
âPlease find attached media reports this week about the pressure to remove the appropriately elected body on trumped-up charges, a matter which you are duly informed about.
âAccording to reports variously carried by the media, the Government intends to remove the board, which is obviously premised on ignorance, deliberate denigration of the person of the ZIFA President, Association and FIFA and general disregard of statutes on the part of the Deputy Minister.
âThe association hereby ask your esteemed office to warn the Government,Â or anyone of that ilk, of the dangers of such actions.Â A letter of remind will cause the government to take a look at their ill-informed move and save everyone of the embarrassment that a suspension from all football activities could cause to Zimbabwe.â
Mashingaidze begged FIFA to send their response before the meeting between ZIFA and the Sports Commission held last Saturday.
âPursuant to their (Government) intended action, the ZIFA board has been summoned to a meeting whose agenda the secretariat do not know, on Saturday January 31, 2015,â Mashingaidze wrote.
âSo, it is our plea that the letter of warning be sent before that meeting to remind the Government of possible sanctions should they elect to carry out their threat of misguided action.
âThank you for your consideration.â
The letter was copied to Dube , ZIFA vice-president Omega Sibanda and all the board members but, as has become the norm at 53 Livingstone Avenue, which has been reduced to a two-man show, it was never sent to Sibanda and the other board members.
Mashingaidze has since sent a notice to the ZIFA board members and councillors that there will be a board meeting in Harare on February 13 and an extra-ordinary meeting of the associationâs assembly the following day.
The intended meetings, though, are a violation of the ZIFA constitution, an issue that the Sports Commission noted on Saturday, as there should be a 60-day notice for an extra-ordinary general meeting to be held.
Mashingaidze wants an indaba, which requires a 60-day notice, to be held after an 11-day notice, in complete violation of the ZIFA constitution.
The agenda for such a meeting should be circulated 14 days prior to it being held.
The board meeting, which he also wants held on February 13, is also unconstitutional as Article 33 clearly says that there should be, at least, 21 days notice of the board meeting and agenda should be sent, at least, 14 days before the indaba.
The board meetings, too, can be convened by the ZIFA president and not the chief executive and should be held, at least, four times a year.