‘FOOTBALL WILL WIN AT THE END’

HELP US OUT . . . Cuthbert Dube’s Zifa have sent an SOS to the Government for financial assistance

Cuthbert Dube

Omega Sibanda
I HAVE been reading all the newspaper articles and the concerns that have been raised, some of them raised through memorandums and petitions, in the past few weeks about ZIFA.I want to state categorically that ZIFA has one president and that man, right now, is Dr Cuthbert Dube. He is the sole president of the association and his legitimacy, as the Zimbabwe football leader, is without question.

People must respect him, as the leader of our entire football community, and they must also respect the office that he holds.

It is a very important public office and this country must appreciate the contribution that Dr Dube has made to our football, not only in the past five years that he has been ZIFA leader, but also in all these years that he has been part of the leadership of Zimbabwean football.

We might have our concerns and differences, which is normal in any family, but the bottom line remains that we have a leader that we should not only accept and respect but support in all that he is doing to make our football a better game.

As a nation, we should be able to separate between constructive criticism and personal attacks that won’t help us in any way but, instead, will drag our football backwards rather than taking us forward.

As ZIFA, we don’t claim that we have been perfect in the way that we have discharged our duties and we know that we have come short of the expectations that people had when they entrusted us with this national responsibility to be the leaders of a game that they love so much.

We are scheduled to hold a board meeting next week, followed by an extra-ordinary meeting, and we are certain, as the game’s leadership, that we will put into  motion systems that will ensure that our football embarks on a healthy and prosperous path.

I have always committed myself to be an agent of peace and reconciliation, so that together as Zimbabweans, we all can contribute to making our football the prosperous game that we all love and are proud of.

That was my mission when I decided to become a national football leader and, despite the challenges that I have faced in the past year, I remain committed to pursuing that path because this game is very important to our nation.

We have our challenges, at ZIFA, some are financial and some are administrative, and we know that some of things that have been happening at our headquarters, and the way the office has been discharging its duties in the day-to-day management of football, are unacceptable and have had a huge bearing in contributing to the problems that are bedeviling our national game today.

The hate language that has come from our CEO (Jonathan Mashingaidze) in the past few weeks, where he called those who are critical of our management of the game “criminal” and “vampires”, is clearly unacceptable and, as Vice-President of the Association, I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

The CEO hasn’t handled himself well too, in terms of the way that he has conducted official business with the board member in charge of women football, and it’s an area that needs to be addressed because the women soccer boss feels that she is not only being undermined but she is also being humiliated.

We dissociate ourselves from the letter that is said to have been sent to FIFA, and all its contents and, if it is true that such a letter was generated from our office, its author or those who sent it have to face the consequences of their reckless action.

I want to assure the Sports Minister and his Deputy that they have our full support and respect and when the Deputy Minister talked about dissolving our board, I think she was talking as a parent who was concerned with the way we have been running the national game.

My own interpretation of her comments were that if your mother says that I will kill you, it doesn’t mean that she wants to kill you, but she is just warning you that what you are doing is wrong and you just need to change the way you have been doing things.

The way we have been handling our financial issues also leaves a lot to be desired and it’s an area that needs our urgent attention, with the ZIFA board member in charge of this portfolio being given room to play the leading role in this key area of our organisation, and I’m encouraged that the finance committee met today (yesterday) and this could be the start of a normalisation process in this field.

I don’t think that our board is divided but we have differences over how we should take our game forward and I feel those differences are healthy because we all can’t think the same way since we are not robots.

I acknowledge the anger that is among the fans that we failed to qualify for the AFCON finals again and that our national teams are not as structured as people would want, especially considering that we have other big assignments that are coming, but I can assure them that we will get things right and our football will prosper.

I call for calm so that people give us a chance to find each other, and work for the good of the game, and against that background, I would like to thank the Sports Commission for the meeting that they organised last week and I can assure them that football will win, at the end of the day.

The tough economic times haven’t made things easy and I salute the PSL, the Regions, the Provinces and the Area Zones who have done very well under a harsh climate and I urge everyone to remain calm as we try to find solutions to the challenges that our game is facing.

I appeal to our supporters to back us because without their support we won’t achieve anything and I salute them for remaining committed to this game despite the challenges that we have  faced.

I also appeal to our sponsors to bear with us and I can assure them that, after our meetings next week, we will emerge as a stronger and united association that will fulfill the wishes of a nation that is desperate to see our football thrive.

Omega Sibanda is the VICE-PRESIDENT of the Zimbabwe Football Association