Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter—
FIFA appear to have thrown their weight behind Cuthbert Dube, who was ousted in a boardroom coup in Harare on Saturday, while the Government has backed the move by ZIFA councillors to kick out their leader. An unsigned letter, which ZIFA claim came from FIFA and which outlawed the decision to revoke Dube’s powers by the councillors, was distributed yesterday, but surprisingly, was not posted on the Association’s official website.
It did not appear on the world football governing body’s website either and given that it was sent by fax, it did not show the time and date of transmission as is usually the case with documents that are sent that way.
The letter, sent to Dube, was said to be in response to one that was sent by the Harare business executive on Sunday.
“We acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated 17 May, 2015 regarding an alleged extraordinary congress of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) convened by the ZIFA councillors and which supposedly took place on 16 May 2015, the contents of which received our full attention,” the letter said.
“We have taken note of the different events which led to the current situation and we understand that the ZIFA councillors, apparently made of 29 ZIFA members, have mischaracterised the opinion of our representative during his recent mission which clearly stated that the process should be guided by the ZIFA Constitution.
“As such and according to Article 28 of the Constitution, the executive committee of ZIFA has to convene an extraordinary congress within three months if one third of the members asks for it. Since the request was made on March 16, 2015, the three months time lapse has not been completed yet, the deadline being 16 June 2015.
“In addition, the extraordinary Congress should have been convened by the secretary-general and chaired by the president which was not the case. The conditions set in the ZIFA Constitution have, therefore, not been met and the alleged extraordinary Congress of 17 May 2015 is thus considered null and void.
“We remind you that, pursuant to Article 17, par 3 of the FIFA Statutes, any Member’s bodies that have not been elected by the Member shall not be recognised by FIFA. Furthermore, Art 17, par 4 of the FIFA Statutes, underlines that decisions passed by bodies that have not been elected or appointed by the Member Association shall not be recognised by FIFA.”
But did FIFA, assuming they generated the letter, get it wrong or they were misled by the correspondence they were responding to?
Article 22 of the ZIFA Constitution talks about the “areas of authority” of “the Congress” and items (L to N) give the councillors the authority to “ADMITTING, SUSPENDING OR EXPELLING A MEMBER; REVOKING THE MANDATE OF ONE OR A NUMBER OF MEMBERS OF A BODY OF ZIFA (and) DISSOLVING ZIFA.”
Article 28, which deals with an Extraordinary Congress, says:
1. The Executive Committee (ZIFA Board) may convene an Extraordinary Congress at any time.
2. The Executive Committee shall convene an Extraordinary Congress if one-third of the Members of ZIFA make such a request in writing. The request shall specify the items for the agenda. An Extraordinary Congress shall be held WITHIN THREE MONTHS OF THE RECEIPT OF THE REQUEST (The FIFA letter appears to suggest the indaba can only be held after the three months have lapsed) If an Extraordinary Congress is not convened, the MEMBERS WHO REQUESTED IT MAY CONVENE THE CONGRESS THEMSELVES (There is no mention here that it has to be called by the ZIFA secretary-general, as that FIFA letter appears to suggest, and chaired by the ZIFA president). As a last resort, the members may request assistance from CAF or FIFA.
3 The members shall be notified of the place, date and agenda, at least, 40 days before the date of an Extraordinary Congress (the request and agenda was circulated on March 16)
Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Thabita Kanengoni-Malinga yesterday said the Government was satisfied with the meeting held by the councillors on Saturday and were already looking at working with ZIFA in the post-Dube era.
“We haven’t received communication (from the Sports Commission) yet but from what we have read in the Press it appears it was done in a procedural manner,” Kanengoni-Malinga, a fierce critic of the ZIFA board, said.
“Even the results show that it was unanimous. According the section of the constitution quoted, it was constitutional. To me, this move by the councillors shows that they have now committed themselves to look at the bigger picture in their efforts to solve their problems and put our football back on the map.
“What is needed now are well co-ordinated efforts to move in the right direction. I noticed they (the councillors) indicated in their resolutions that they want to engage the Government and, as the ministry, we are gladly waiting for that engagement.
“It’s there for all to see that our football is in a sorry state. The ministry is very interested in finding ways on how Government should help ZIFA out of this unfortunate situation. The fact that Dube and a few of his colleagues have been booted out doesn’t automatically mean that our problems are over, but this could be one step towards solving the issues.”
She said the ministry had fruitful negotiations with a FIFA delegation that was in the country early this month to discuss the state of football affairs.
“Remember we had a delegation from FIFA last week and we discussed a number of things, among them, the association’s ballooning debts and the ban from the World Cup,” said Kanengoni-Malinga.
“The impression that we got from FIFA is that they were greatly concerned by the situation. They indicated that they were not happy with the way things were being run at ZIFA and they wanted a different approach.
“They highlighted that ZIFA is bankrupt in light of the way properties were being auctioned, of late, to settle the debts. FIFA made it clear that they will not bail out ZIFA.
“One of the highlights of our meeting with the FIFA officials was that Government should help the association to get its house in order, contrary to what some people were saying that Government should have nothing to do with football.
“So we agreed that the three institutions — Government, ZIFA and FIFA — will work hand-in-hand to try and find lasting solutions to the problems bedevilling Zimbabwe football so that the game moves forward.
“The main issue at the moment is the removal of the huge debts and to try create a scenario where we don’t continue accumulating these debts.
“FIFA said it was pertinent that we should pay off all the debts, including the Valinhos’ one which led to our suspension from the World Cup.
“So they said our removal from the World Cup ban will be helped by our commitment to pay off the debt. So we will be consulting the Cabinet and Treasury. As a nation we have to come up with a working plan.
“Even the President (Cde Mugabe) wants to see an end to the crisis in football. So we have to be level headed and try to work together with all stakeholders concerned.”