Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
SPORT, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa has promised the nation that Zimbabwe will be reinstated into the 2018 World Cup qualifiers following his meeting with the ZIFA board in Harare yesterday. He said money to pay Brazilian coach Valinhos would be raised within the next two weeks and the issue should be settled soon.
Langa met the full ZIFA board after attempts by the Association chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze to elbow out some of the board members from the meeting failed dismally.
ZIFA vice president Omega Sibanda was called late on Wednesday night by the minister to attend the meeting even though he had not received a written invitation from Mashingaidze.
Other board members, Miriam Sibanda and Ben Gwarada, were called by ZIFA staff members late on Wednesday night to attend the meeting after Langa insisted he would meet the entire board.
Only Tawengwa Hara, a lawyer based in Bulawayo, did not attend the meeting because of work commitments.
That the entire ZIFA board attended the meeting with the minister was a big blow for Mashingaidze who now faces possible censure from his board after the way he is running the secretariat was criticised, again yesterday.
Mashingaidze was told the leave an impromptu meeting of the ZIFA board, after their meeting with the minister and his delegation, where his conduct — and how it had dragged the game into the quagmire — was discussed.
A major announcement is expected to be made next week that could shake the ZIFA secretariat, the first step in bringing order at the organisation.
Langa, his deputy Tabitha Kanengoni-Malinga, Sports Commission acting chairperson Edward Siwela, director-general Charles Nhemachena, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture Thokozile Chitepo met the ZIFA board members.
“We met with ZIFA board this morning and all the ZIFA board members, except Mr Hara, who is based in Bulawayo, who is a lawyer and had a court case to attend,” Langa said.
“We directed as a Ministry that the ZIFA board should put its house in order and ensure that they pay Valinhos within the next coming two weeks.
“I am happy to tell the nation that ZIFA has assured us that they are doing something to ensure that we pay Valinhos.
“I have also directed the Sports Commission to work closely with ZIFA to ensure that we raise US$67 000, plus interest, within the next two weeks.
“But I will not let this matter only with ZIFA and Sports Commission. My ministry will also ensure that we will assist in raising this money so that Zimbabwe is reinstated into the World Cup whose draw will be done this July.
“I have the creditors’ list here in my office, those people owed by ZIFA, unfortunately the Valinhos name is not there on the list I have.
“If we had known about Valinhos we would have made some attempts to assist here and there. But, unfortunately my office and the Sports Commission, only learnt about Valinhos on Thursday when Zimbabwe was expelled.” This has thrown Mashingaidze into the fire and he is set to be the fall guy of this crisis.
“I would want to assure Zimbabweans that we will certainly pay this debt and Zimbabwe would be reinstated,” said Langa.
“This Valinhos matter is now a Zimbabwean matter and not ZIFA alone. There has been belief that Langa is lenient with ZIFA, which is wrong. All I want to see are processes and procedures being followed. You don’t make any arrests before an investigation.
“We are in the process of appointing a Commission of Enquiry. I want to assure people that people in that committee would be credible to ensure that Zimbabweans are heard about what they want about football.
“I challenged the ZIFA board to work as a team. I want to agree with Zimbabweans that the expulsion of Zimbabwe is an embarrassment to all Zimbabweans and I have, therefore, directed ZIFA to put their house in order to stop the unnecessary squabbles.”