‘Abolish Zifa, start afresh’

Bruce Grobbelaar
Sikhumbuzo Moyo Bulawayo Bureau—

WARRIORS legend Bruce Grobbelaar last night twisted the knife on Cuthbert Dube and his ZIFA board, saying they should be dissolved. The legendary former Liverpool goalkeeper, who was capped 33 times by Zimbabwe, spoke after FIFA banned Zimbabwe from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers over a $60 000 debt owed to former national team coach Jose Valinhos.

“I think ZIFA needs to be dissolved and the organisation started again from scratch,” Grobbelaar told the BBC, echoing similar sentiments by Deputy Sports Minister Tabitha Kanengoni-Malinga and Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo.

Sports Minister Andrew Langa yesterday appeared to deflect blame over the fiasco from the ZIFA board, insisting instead that it was the ZIFA Assembly — which elects the ZIFA board — which was to blame.

“While all criticism has mainly been targeted at the ZIFA board, my ministry notes that control of the board vests in the ZIFA Assembly,” Langa said in a statement.

“The latter, therefore, are equally if not more culpable for the goings-on in ZIFA.

“The ZIFA Assembly are the ones who voted the ZIFA board into office and it is them who can exercise the prerogative to withdraw their mandate, or to take any other concrete action that demonstrates their resolve to ensure that there is professionalism in the administration of our football.”

Minister Langa would be aware that Dube was re-elected last year amid reports of massive vote buying of members of the ZIFA Assembly. The minister is at odds with his deputy, Kanengoni-Malinga, who wants the Government to step in and dissolve ZIFA.

And Grobbelaar, a former Zimbabwe captain and coach, added: “The new ZIFA would need to be an independent organisation, but who is going to set that up? There’re too many hands in the pot of money that comes from FIFA.”

It would need a strong individual that everyone knows in Zimbabwe.”

FIFA gave Zimbabwe 180 days last year to settle the debt with Brazilian Valinhos, who was sacked in 2008, but the international football governing body says ZIFA neglected or failed to make the payments even as they were aware that this would lead to a ban.

ZIFA, weighed down by a $4 million debt, claimed it had been “liaising with FIFA and asking for a longer payment plan”.

The association had failed to prioritise the Valinhos debt because “the queue (of creditors) is pretty long”.

Prof Moyo said Government was prepared to bailout ZIFA, but only after Dube and his board were gone.

“No boot out, no bailout,” the minister said on Thursday, adding that the debacle was “the smoking gun that should be used to bring the needed change at the helm of ZIFA.

Kanengoni-Malinga, who previously stated that the Government was prepared to risk a FIFA ban by sacking Dube, said following the FIFA decision, there was now “nothing to protect”.

“There was really nothing to protect then but now that we’re finally banned, we’ve to do something and that we will do,” she vowed.