Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter—
THE Zimbabwe Women Football have been rocked by a boardroom coup, with some officials suspending their chairperson Miriam Sibanda, in the start of a vicious purge that is set to culminate in the ejection of ZIFA vice-president Omega Sibanda from the association’s board. ZIFA board member (finance) Ben Gwarada has also been targeted in the purge.
Sibanda, the ZIFA vice-president, last night declared the suspension of the women football boss as null and void, saying the association’s constitution had been violated in the attempts to fast-track the impeachment of his namesake.
“They have no authority to say they have suspended their chairperson, they can write to the ZIFA Board, with recommendations, the Board sits down and looks at their presentation and, where there is need, it then refers the case to the Disciplinary Committee,” said the ZIFA vice-president.
“Miriam is a ZIFA Board member and the constitution is very clear in how you deal with such people when it comes to disciplinary issues, the constitution is also clear in terms of the due notice that should be given for the gathering that we heard was at the ZIFA Village today and you can’t give a notice on Friday and meet on Monday and pass binding resolutions.
“We had a board meeting that was cancelled about three weeks ago because it was said that it did not comply with the provisions of the ZIFA constitution, we have an extra-ordinary general meeting, which was called for by some councillors, which was rejected for one reason or another.
“We cannot use the constitution, when it suits us, and then ignore it, when things that are being done also suit our interests and all I can say to you is that the purported suspension of the women football chairlady is a nullity.
“We have a precedent in our football of how our game dealt severely with people who were intent on violating the ZIFA constitution, about 10 years ago, and it will be interesting to see how the game deals with people who today are violating the very constitution that should guide our operations.”
According to the charge sheet — a copy of which is in our possession — the women football boss faced six charges, which included a plot to oust ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube, attacks on chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, contempt of protocol, alleged misuse of $60 000 sponsorship fund and setting an “exorbitant” $1 000 club affiliation fee without consulting the board members.
Sibanda was also accused of inviting “enemies of football” — Francis Zimunya, Chris Sambo and Tinashe Mapuranga — to the Mighty Warriors’ tie against Ghana at Rufaro recently.
Mapuranga, a former aide of Cuthbert Dube, who has been critical of Mashingaidze in recent months, was challenged by a ZIFA security officer, during the match, who told him that Mashingaidze wanted to know who had invited him to Rufaro.
Two other board members — Edwin Magosvongwe and Ben Mamoche — who are considered to be allies of Sibanda, were also suspended.
The meeting was called for by the ZWF Super League clubs, regional councillors and provincial councillors, although there were reports last night that transport was hired from a central position in the capital to ferry the delegates.
“We are charging Mrs Miriam Sibanda for contempt of protocol as outlined in our ZIFA statutes, when she communicated with FIFA, that was an unfortunate move since ZWF is just but an affiliate and not an Association,” the charge sheet says.
“FIFA is the mother of body of all football associations like ZIFA. In communicating directly with FIFA she put the game of football into disrepute. There is only one football association in Zimbabwe and that is ZIFA.
“The Miriam Sibanda-board harboured anti-football persons and gave them VVIP status, these include Francis Zimunya, Chris Sambo and Mapuranga.
“Under the statutes nor affiliate or member should have contact with rogue elements that are expelled by the Association let alone give them Football VIP status.
“She incited for the petitioning of the duly-elected association president Dube and attacked chief executive Mashingaidze who is the secretary-general of all forms of football in Zimbabwe. The attacks which are here presented in newspapers cuttings and also radio recordings.
“The $1 000 the executive charged is very exorbitant especially when the board has failed to attract league sponsorship. Club licensing as a statutory requirement cannot be fulfilled overnight. It also lacked input from the councillors.
“Miriam Sibanda breached our finance protocol and control. The assembly was not presented with a financial statement for 2014.”
The members said, in view of the issues raised, Sibanda was duly suspended.
“In the final consideration the ZWF council having looked into the charges , duly submits the issues raised therein to the ZIFA disciplinary committee for further investigation and decision (and):
Suspends Miriam Sibanda forthwith up to when the congress will sit to review during which investigations and the Disciplinary Committee will come up with determination.
Suspends Ben Mamoche, forthwith, up to when the Congress will sit to review during which investigations and the Disciplinary committee will come up with determination.
· Suspends Edwin Magosvongwe forthwith up to when the Congress will sit to review during which investigations and the Disciplinary committee will come up with determination.
· Stop Jerrymike Gumbo forthwith from interfering with executive board issues
· We will co-opt four members in the interim during the six month suspension.”
Central Region board member, Brightwell Kadenge, speaking on behalf of the assembly yesterday confirmed the developments and said they had presented their resolutions to Dube and Mashingaidze and Sibanda will be informed of his fate by the secretariat.
According to women football boss, Sibanda, the invitation letter sent to her did not carry a date nor was it signed.
“So it was just a notice telling me they are going to have a meeting saying this is what we are going to discuss,” she said.
“They wanted to talk about affiliation fee, current state of women’s football and the third item I don’t remember. I didn’t attend, not because I didn’t want to, but the convening of the meeting was unconstitutional.
“How can I be suspended when the meeting convened was unconstitutional?
“If I had attended I would have made myself unconstitutional. As far as I am concerned life goes on, I am the one who is going to write to them calling for disciplinary action.
“As I speak I have not seen the (suspension) letter and the petition.”