Ishemunyoro Chingwere and Langton Nyakwenda

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DESPITE a barrage of criticism and calls for him to step down, beleaguered zifa president Cuthbert Dube retains broad support from the national association’s Assembly, a poll of members by The Sunday Mail shows.

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Dube is being held responsible for the comatose state of the nation’s number one sport and lobby for his ouster gets stronger each day.

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There are two immediate ways in which Dube can be ousted: Government can sack the board or the zifa Assembly can pass a vote of no confidence in him.

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Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga has said Government is prepared to intervene, which would attract fifa sanctions as the world soccer governing body does not brook State interference.

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Dube’s position is emboldened by his reported support for fifa president Sepp Blatter.

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Blatter, himself accused of running down fifa, is seeking re-election on May 29 and is unlikely to allow a change of leadership at zifa House now.

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And now it seems the zifa Assembly — over whose members Dube holds significant sway — will not do as many are demanding and sack the soccer boss. An extraordinary assembly meeting set for Harare on February 14, it appears, will not kick out Dube.

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Over the past two weeks, The Sunday Mail polled 43 of 65 vote-casting zifa Assembly councillors, and only three said they would pass a vote of no confidence in Dube.

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This reflects the same situation as last year when Dube retained the zifa presidency with 75 percent of the vote even as the nation bayed for his head after it emerged he had been paying himself US$500 000 as chief executive of Premier Service Medical Aid Society.

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He was sacked as PSMAS boss but regardless of widespread condemnation, he still held on as zifa boss.

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In our poll, the zifa councillors — who agreed to be part of the survey on condition that their names would not be published — largely said Zimbabwe’s poor performance on the field of play was attributable to lack of resources and not Dube’s mismanagement.

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Dube says he has used personal resources to finance zifa in the absence of private and public sector funding. Potential sponsors on the other hand say they steer clear of zifa because it is poorly run. One councillor said he was against the idea of using “unfootball” means to resolve issues at zifa and was worried the game would be the loser if Government intervened.

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“We have our own statutes that govern our game; this issue should just be resolved within the football family.

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“It is important to stick within the dictates of the game. Why should we put statutes in place and then violate them? To me it doesn’t make any football sense,” he said.

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Another said: “If we are to replace Dube with another leader today, do you honestly think that person will perform any wonders without funding? My friend, there is no way we can blame the current leadership.

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“Give them the necessary support and then measure them afterwards. We know some of those pushing for the ouster of Dube were once involved with the association and did nothing extraordinary.”

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The few councillors who said Dube must go indicated they would push their case at the February 14 meeting.

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A long-serving councillor said: “Football does not need a person like Dube. Maybe he has his own reasons as to why he continues to cling to that post. He has literally entrusted everything to his sidekick (zifa CEO Jonathan) Mashingaidze, who himself is not sincere in everything he says.

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“I admit it might not be easy to push him out as some are of the view that he is a messiah, but, honestly speaking, his time is up and he should go now.”

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Harare provincial chair and Dynamos founding member Owen Chandamale was the only one of those polled who agreed to be named — and he spoke in Dube’s support.

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“We have been receiving calls from some disgraced football administrators who are trying to sway us in their favour.

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“What, however, amazes me is what good will these people bring to our game because most of them are well-known crooks whom we kicked out of football for their inefficiencies and fraudulent tendencies.

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“(Francis) Zimunya, for instance, called me and having told me his agenda I asked him what else he had in store for the game when he failed dismally the last time we gave him a mandate.”

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But another said: “We might spend the whole day if we start chronicling (Dube’s) failures; the man has tried his best but has failed and he should just rest.”