Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
A CRUCIAL indaba called by Sports Minister Andrew Langa today to discuss the Warriors’ expulsion from the 2018 World Cup has degenerated into a farce after some ZIFA board members were elbowed out of the meeting amid fears they might raise a storm over the way their association handled the Valinhos case.
Only a selected group of board members, comprising the ZIFA Emergency Committee, have been hand-picked by the association to attend the indaba despite the minister having invited the full board given the sensitivity of the case to be discussed.
The Emergency Committee is made up of ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube and his board members — Fungai Chihuri, John Phiri and Twine Phiri — and they met in Harare last Friday and Sunday to discuss the issue.
ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze is an ex-officio member of that committee.
However, there are fears within the football community that the Emergency Committee is ill-equipped to represent the entire ZIFA board given the sensitivity of the case set for discussion.
Others also question why the four officials, who were part of the old ZIFA board, should now go and represent the association at the meeting with the Government when they stand accused of having been part of the leadership that sat on Valinhos’ case before it exploded into an expulsion of the Warriors from the 2018 World Cup.
Fresh voices and faces that came on the ZIFA board last March have been isolated from today’s indaba because some have been critical of the way their association is being run.
Sources told The Herald yesterday that some of the ZIFA leaders, especially the secretariat, were not comfortable with these board members meeting the minister at such a sensitive time.
Mashingaidze, who appears to carry the biggest blame for the World Cup expulsion amid questions of how his office handled such a sensitive issue, has had problems with some of the board members who have been excluded from today’s meeting.
Mashingaidze, in his correspondence with Sports Commission director-general Charles Nhemachena related to today’s meeting, said the decision to send only the Emergency Committee was to try and manage their costs.
However, questions were being asked yesterday as to how ZIFA could manage costs by keeping board members like Ben Gwarada and Miriam Sibanda, who are both based in Harare, from attending the indaba with the minister.
Gwarada, given that his portfolio is board member in charge of finance, would have been key to the deliberations, has been elbowed out of the indaba with sources saying this was related to his criticism of the way ZIFA was running its affairs when the board appeared before a parliamentary committee last month.
Sibanda, the women football boss, has had her battles with Mashingaidze and was the only board member who told the Sports Commission that she was part of a petition that criticised the way the game was being run in the country.
ZIFA vice-president Omega Sibanda has long been viewed with suspicion within the board and that Mashingaidze didn’t even copy him the letter he sent to Nhemachena sums it all up.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association is in receipt of your letter dated 17th March 2015 pertaining to the above (invitation to a meeting with the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture — Thursday, March 19, 2015), and hereby acknowledge its contents,” Mashingaidze wrote to Nhemachena.
“The Association would like to confirm that the Emergency Committee duly appointed by the ZIFA Board, in terms of Article 40 of the ZIFA Constitution, will attend the meeting and report back to the full Board after the meeting.
“The Emergency Committee comprises of:
1. Dr CE Dube — ZIFA President.
2. Mr Fungai Chihuri — Board Member
3. Mr Twine Phiri — Board Member
4. Mr John Phiri — Board Member
“The decision to have the Emergency Committee attending the meeting is on account of its mandate and the financial implications of having the entire Board members attending.”
Interestingly, while the Emergency Committee has already met twice, since FIFA announced the expulsion of the Warriors from the 2018 World Cup, it has yet to report to the other members of the ZIFA Board.
“The minister wanted the entire board because of the sensitivity of the case at stake, but things are being manipulated because there are fears that some board members could raise issues that will make the association uncomfortable as was the case in Parliament last month,” sources told The Herald.
“Therefore, some people at ZIFA feel they should just send guys they trust will not raise a storm and that is why you have this Emergency Committee being sent to that meeting.
“It’s sad that such a very sensitive national issue has been reduced into the politics at ZIFA and the same people who want government to help them are also trying to censor what government should hear.
“If the whole board was attending this meeting l can tell you that some of its members were going to ask why this Valinhos issue was not being brought before board meetings if the secretariat was receiving all these letters from FIFA warning us of the sanctions.
“As it is, all the minister is going to hear is what has been rehearsed and a good opportunity to address this issue is going to be lost in the politics at ZIFA. “
Interestingly, Mashingaidze sent a circular on Monday to the ZIFA Board and Assembly members addressing the Valinhos issue.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association formally wrote to former coach Jose Claudinei Georgini lawyer, Mr Victor Eleaterio, on Monday 16th March 2015, requesting for a re-engagement of the two parties,” wrote Mashingaidze.
“The lawyers in question have been representing Coach Jose Claudinei Georgini since 2008.
“We have advised Coach Jose Claudinei Georgini’s lawyers that ZIFA’S lawyers will be engaging them tomorrow, 17th March 2015, to initiate re-engagement which should see ZIFA make an initial down payment this month.”
Mashingaidze also addressed the issue of the artificial surface that was attached and sold by former ZIFA employee Nicky Dhlamini-Moyo.
However, Mashingaidze says they were trying to engage Dhlamini-Moyo’s lawyers when ownership of the turf has now passed into the hands of those who bought it.
“A meeting between ZIFA and creditor Ms Nicholette Dhlamini’s lawyers set for Friday 13th March 2015 could not take place as planned since the lawyers said they had urgent commitments,” Mashingaidze wrote in his circular.
“We have engaged the lawyers for the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture to facilitate the meeting in question.
“The Association has proposed a payment of two (2) thousand dollars per month to Ms Dhlamini’s lawyers and we await their response.”
This circular, unlike his letter to Nhemachena, was copied to ZIFA vice-president Sibanda.