The damning petition ZIFA didn’t want you to know about, and whose contents they fear

. . . Councillors finally get guts to confront crippled national football leadership

REBELLIONRobson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ALMOST half of the ZIFA councillors — including 11 of the 16 Premiership delegates — have raised alarm over the sorry state of football in Zimbabwe in an explosive rebellion that represents an indictment on the national game’s dysfunctional leadership.

Twine Phiri, a member of the ZIFA Board by virtue of his position as the Premier Soccer League chairman, signed the petition while Premiership heavyweights — Highlanders, CAPS United and FC Platinum — and all the Southern Region top-flight clubs, have backed the petition.

This comes against the background of a grim assessment of the country’s troubled football controlling body by their superintendents, the Sports Commission, who on Wednesday, described ZIFA as an organisation that has collapsed.

Last month, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa described the organisation as “rotten, lacking in professionalism and accountability”.

Langa’s brutal assessment of the ZIFA Board followed a meeting with the domestic football leadership, in the wake of the tsunami provoked by the expulsion of the Warriors from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, after the association failed to pay former national team coach Valinhos his dues. It has since emerged that about half the ZIFA Councillors — including the Premier Soccer League — are unhappy with the state of football in the country and The Herald is in possession of a comprehensive petition, signed by 25 of the 58 councillors of the association, in which they address those concerns. The councillors wrote to ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze calling for an Assembly Special General Meeting to discuss the dire state of the game.

“The Premier Soccer League is very concerned with the state of football in Zimbabwe, especially with the recent banning of the country from participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers,” reads the petition. “We, the undersigned, hereby request that you urgently call for a Special General Meeting of the ZIFA Assembly, preferably within 14 days from the date of this letter. The ZIFA Assembly Special General Meeting should consider, among other things, the following:

  • An age analysis of all ZIFA creditors
  • The participation and funding of the national teams
  • The Way Forward.”

Highlanders, CAPS United, Chapungu, Chicken Inn, FC Platinum, How Mine, Hwange, Hwahwa, Triangle, Tsholotsho and Dongo Sawmill backed the petition which was also backed by councillors from the Northern, Southern and Central Regions, Zimbabwe National Women Soccer League, Zimbabwe Beach Soccer, Bulawayo Province and Matabeleland North Province.

Even though the number of councillors backing the petition constituted more than a third of the ZIFA Assembly, the number required to constitutionally call for such an indaba, their call was rebuffed by Mashingaidze in a blatant violation of the association’s constitution.

Mashingaidze said their grievances would be addressed, under ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube’s state of the game address, at the association’s Annual General Meeting, which had been scheduled for Harare tomorrow, which has since been postponed by the ZIFA chief executive and set for June 27.

On Wednesday, Sports Commission director-general Charles Nhemachena said the decision by ZIFA to postpone the Annual General Meeting, set for tomorrow, was a not only a blatant violation of the troubled football governing body’s constitution but showed that the organisation had collapsed. “Failing to have an AGM isn’t in conformity with the principles of corporate governance and it’s a serious indictment on those steering the ship,” said Nhemachena.

“Doing so all but confirms the collapse of an organisation. We can’t continue to proceed in this manner. Violation of constitution isn’t condoned at all. The problem with people in sport, especially in football, is that those (ZIFA councillors) entrusted to run it don’t raise anomalies and just read issues in the papers and let them go. That’s why we can’t move as a football nation because we’ve passive people in leadership positions. At the end of the day it’s the country which stands to suffer.”

A COCKTAIL OF PROMISES AND LIES

The ZIFA Promise To Langa

“ZIFA has promised my Ministry that they have the revenue stream to settle the current (Valinhos) debt in full by the end of April to facilitate the lifting of the current suspension of Zimbabwe from the 2018 World Cup,” — Langa’s Press statement, on March 20, 2015, after meeting the ZIFA Board to discuss Zimbabwe’s suspension from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Why The ZIFA Promise That Was A Lie?

“The Association has the following obligations to service: – settlement in full of former national team coach, Mr Jose Georgini ‘Valinhos’ debt by MID-MAY 2015. Mr Valinhos is owed Eighty One Thousand Dollars (US$81 000),” — ZIFA chief executive, Mashingaidze, in his notice to Councilors, on April 20, 2015

More than $60 000, paid by the PSL last month to help dissolve the Valinhos debt, is believed to have been diverted to pay Pandhari Lodge, to stop the attachment of ZIFA boss Cuthbert Dube’s property.

 The ZIFA Promise To Langa

“The current in-house squabbles at ZIFA are not helping in any way to improve our football; instead they have a detrimental effect and are plunging the people’s game into the abyss. They (ZIFA) HAVE PROMISED TO FIX THEIR IN-HOUSE PROBLEMS AND WORK TOGETHER AS A BOARD FOR THE GOOD OF FOOTBALL IN ZIMBABWE. I CAN TELL YOU THAT I AM NOT LEAVING ANY ROOM FOR EXCUSES THIS TIME,” — Langa’s Press statement, on March 20, 2015.

 Why the ZIFA Promise Was A Lie

“The Zimbabwe Football Association hereby inform your esteemed office and person that the Zimbabwe Women Football Assembly suspended three (3) members of their National Executive Committee, following a meeting held on Monday, 20th MAY (Come on Jonathan, we are still in April), 2015. The suspended members comprise the following — Mrs Miriam Sibanda (ZIFA Board Members), My Benny Mamoche and Mr Edwin Magosvongwe. The suspension of the trip arose out of allegations of conduct which brought football into disrepute,” — Mashingaidze, in a letter to Nhemachena, yesterday.

The ZIFA Promise To Langa

“Lastly, I don’t want to hear any more issues of misunderstanding at ZIFA; this is one issue that has personally made me very angry and all this nonsense must stop. I have been blamed for being lenient to the Cuthbert Dube-led Board and this has led to this ridiculous accusation that I am on Dube’s payroll. I need to state categorically that it’s malicious, hogwash and unfounded.” — Langa in his Press statement.

 The Sad Reality On the Ground

Board member Miriam Sibanda’s controversial suspension from her position as Women Football Leader has been endorsed by Mashingaidze, as confirmed by his letter to Nhemachena yesterday, despite fierce criticism of the move from Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister, Thabita Kanengoni-Malinga.

The Minister’s Pledge To The Nation

“ZIFA is rotten, lacking in professionalism and accountability. We cannot allow our football to be led by (such) a disjointed and confused lot. THIS IS INTOLERABLE AND HEADS MUST ROLL. ZIFA has failed the nation and is holding the nation to ransom. This is ridiculous”, — Langa in his Press statement last month.

 The Reality, A Month Later

The principal figures at 53 Livingstone Avenue remain in control and, instead, they are even kicking out those people they believe have been critical of their flawed leadership with Miriam Sibanda’s controversial suspension the first blow from this lot.