CRICKET GRAPHICRobson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ON a day a group of Zimbabwean athletes charmed the world with a spirited performance in New Zealand, hawks within ZIFA provided a reminder of the dark side of domestic sport as they took their shadowy campaign to oust three board members, including their vice president, to another level.

Zimbabwe’s cricketers turned on the power and won a lot of praise, for their performance in the first official 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup warm-up match, pummelling a highly-rated New Zealand team onto the ropes, at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln yesterday.

Tinashe Panyangara (2-28), skipper Elton Chigumbura (2-21), Tafadzwa Kamungozi (1-29), Hamilton Masakadza (1-3) and Sikandar Raza, capturing one wicket with his only delivery, had the World Cup hosts, whom some analysts believe are dark horses to win the tournament, on the ropes at 157-7.

That this score included an 86-ball century from opener Martin Guptill, put New Zealand’s troubles into perspective and only one other batsman, former skipper Rose Taylor (11), managed to get into double figures before falling to Chigumbura.

Brendon McCullum (8), Kane Williamson (6), Corey Anderson (6), Tom Latham (9), Daniel Vettori (6) and Nathan McCullum (4), all failed to get into double figures as the Zimbabwe bowlers dominated the innings against a Black Caps team that recently beat Sri Lanka 4-2 in an ODI series.

Chigumbura and his men will face Sri Lanka in their last official World Cup second warm-up match before they plunge into their first game, a blockbuster tie against South Africa in Hamilton on Sunday, with the Proteas going into the tournament as one of the red-hot favourites to lift the trophy.

However, Zimbabwe’s good day in the field was marred by rain, which washed out this contest in the 32nd over, forcing a no-result. But while there was something positive about Zimbabwean sport, from the field, and just a few days before a big tournament like the Cricket World Cup gets underway, the country’s biggest sporting discipline, football, remained trapped in a quagmire of darkness.

Two of the ZIFA board members, who

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But bankrupt, leaderless, hopeless Zifa

continue to cast huge shadow over sport have dared to question the competency of ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, now find themselves in the firing line ahead of a contentious board and extra-ordinary meeting of the association’s councillors in Harare this weekend.

A third board member, who has yet to execute his role as the ZIFA board member in charge of finance, a year after being voted into office, has also been thrown into the firing line.

ZIFA vice president, Omega Sibanda, could be the biggest casualty if the meetings, which already violate the association’s constitution given that due notice wasn’t given for them to be held, go ahead as scheduled.

Sadly, the Sports Commission, whose credibility to resolve the ZIFA saga was put into question after one of their leaders spent at least, three hours, meeting an aide of the association’s president Cuthbert Dube in Harare last week, have been watching from a distance while the constitution, the bible which should guide ZIFA’s operations, is being violated with regards the holding of the two meetings this weekend.

Sibanda last week backed women football boss, Miriam Sibanda, when she criticised the way Mashingaidze has been running the ZIFA office and this appears to have triggered a backlash and a Sunday newspaper revealed at the weekend that they could both be axed in a purge.

Our sister newspaper, H-Metro, first raised the issue of the purge in a recent back page story and said Sibanda, the deputy ZIFA president, women football boss Sibanda and Ben Gwarada, the board member in charge of finance, were likely to be swept away.

Yesterday, The Herald was informed by its sources that councillors were being told that they should ensure they eliminate the three board members at the contentious board meeting set for Saturday.

“The machinery has been in full swing and the councillors are being told, in no uncertain terms, that they have to make sure that the three are removed from the board on trumped-up allegations that they were involved in a plot to try and push Dube from his post as ZIFA president,” the sources said.

“The phones have been ringing and the ZIFA Secretariat has been put into the same election mode that they were about a year ago and this time the targets are the three people, the two men and a woman, who have are being deemed to be anti-football.”

If Gwarada is pushed out, as is the plan, he will make history as the first ZIFA board member to complete a year, in office, without even authorising any financial transaction after he was kept away from the association’s accounts with various banks in the capital.

All financial matters, which are supposed to be handled by the ZIFA board member in charge of finance, have been a preserve of the secretariat in the past year.

Already, chartered accountant, Joseph Musariri, who fought and lost in the battle for the ZIFA board member in charge of finance in the 2010 elections with the post being won by Elliot Kasu, has been lined up as a possible replacement of Gwarada.

It could not be established last night whether Musariri, a member of the ZIFA finance committee who is also the chairman of beach football, was aware of the shadowy plot to make him the next ZIFA board member in charge of finance.

He polled nine votes, in the 2010 elections, which Kasu won easily, and fared better than Gladmore Muzambi (3) and Oliver Manyau (2).

Interestingly, Gwarada — who is now being targeted — polled 48 votes, among the 58 councillors, at the ZIFA polls last March, the second best performance by a candidate, given that he took 82.75 percent of the vote.

Only Tawenga Hara, the Bulawayo lawyer, fared better with 51 votes and an 87.93 percent share of the vote.

Fungai Chihuri, according to the sources, could be pushed into the position of ZIFA vice president if Sibanda is eliminated.

Chihuri, with 41 votes, had the least number of votes among the officials who won posts as ZIFA board seats.

Sibanda could become the second ZIFA vice president, in the past five years, to meet such a fate after Kenny Marange was also removed from the board.

Sibanda won a first round battle against Elkhana Dube for the vice presidency after polling 38 of the 58 votes.

ZIFA president, Dube, needed a second round, after taking 34 votes, 58.62 percent of the vote, in the first round, with 41.38 percent of the electorate choosing other candidates who were in the race for the presidency.

Trevor Carelse-Juul, who only had less than two months to campaign and who had the disadvantage of taking on an incumbent leader, took 24 percent of the vote in that first round.