One day to go for ZIFA decision day

DECISION DAYEddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
NOW that ZIFA have failed to stop tomorrow’s extraordinary general meeting despite spirited attempts by chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, does this mark the beginning of the end of Cuthbert Dube’s reign as the leader of Zimbabwe football?

All the signs appear to point to that with FIFA and CAF representatives expected in Harare today for the indaba, while Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane is also expected to attend the meeting.

There have been spirited efforts, this week, by ZIFA, through Mashingaidze, amid reports by some people that he was working under the instructions of Dube, to have the meeting deferred, but FIFA refused to be used by the domestic football leadership.

Dube now faces a defining moment at the helm of the country’s football mother body tomorrow with the people who elected him, just more than a year ago, saying that he has failed to discharge his mandate.

The councillors have moved a motion to revoke the mandate of Dube and his board members and — if what happened at the last meeting, where the Harare business executive was told point blank that he has failed and should leave, is anything to go by — then this is the end of the road for the ZIFA boss.

One of the delegates who spoke to The Herald yesterday said the councillors believe they have won a huge victory, just by getting the meeting held, and virtually all of them will foot their bills just to ensure that their voices are heard.

A 51 percent vote of those in attendance, supporting the motion, will see Dube suffering the humiliation of being kicked out of office.

“We have been told that we should be able to foot our bills and this is nothing new to us because that was the same situation the last time when we came for the AGM,” said the councillor.

“So, we actually expected it and had budgeted for it.

“Of course, these guys have their own pressures at ZIFA. It’s true their finances are not in good shape, but the reason this meeting is happening is because we want to bring to an end such problems.

“As far as I know most of the delegates have confirmed that they will be available except one or two who cannot sacrifice because of the economic challenges.

“To me, deferring this meeting is just like deferring our problems. We need to sort things out once and for all bearing in mind that there is never going to come a time when we shall say now we have the money let’s hold the meeting, never.

“Even if we are to wait for 10 more months, the issue of resources at ZIFA will always remain the same, if not worse.”

Mashingaidze has been making frantic efforts to postpone the meeting on the basis that the cash-strapped association lacked resources to finance the gathering.

The ZIFA chief executive wrote to FIFA trying to persuade the football governing body that ZIFA were not in a position to finance such a meeting at the moment.

But after failing to find joy from the Zurich-based body, Mashingaidze yesterday said they had resolved that councillors should foot their own bills.

“We are facing some financial challenges and we have asked those who can afford to foot their own bills to do so. Right now we are seized with the issue of the Mighty Warriors travel arrangements to Cameroon and that is why we had wanted to have such a meeting at a time when we don’t have other competing events,” said Mashingaidze.

Dube was not answering his phone yesterday, but the Harare executive told The Herald in an earlier interview that he was prepared to accept his fate.

Dube, who has had a busy schedule in the last month touring the provinces, said he had nothing to fear since he believes he has done his best for Zimbabwean football during trying times. “Personally, I would want the meeting to go ahead because I believe people should freely speak their minds out. I have nothing to fear in this matter.

“Leaders come and go and if they say I am to leave office then that be it. I can tell you very authoritatively that I want that meeting to go ahead,” he said.

The Harare business executive twice survived bids to oust him.

The ZIFA president said the major challenge they were facing was the unavailability of resources

“When you hold such meetings you need to have adequate financial resources. So ZIFA wrote a letter to FIFA asking for help, but FIFA said they wanted to see an audit for the FAP.

“This was done by KPMG and is ready. But results of another audit for our own local funds done by Gwatidzo and company are still pending because the firm wants $30 000 for the job, which we don’t have. So we will have to find a way out for the meeting to be held,” said Dube.

ZIFA have been under fire for the way they have been running the game.

A report by the Sports Commission investigation committee last week revealed that there were serious flaws in the way football was being administered at 53 Livingstone Avenue.

The SRC said the ZIFA leadership was twice invited by the investigation committee to come and present their side of the story, but they ignored the calls and were given October 5 as the final deadline.

Dube, however, maintained he had not seen the invitations.

“I’m not aware of any invitation from the SRC. Actually I am surprised by that. On the issue of governance, maybe the money that I was giving to ZIFA I shouldn’t have done that.

“But how could I fold my arms when there was no money, when the national teams were stranded?” said Dube. Premier Soccer League chairman, Twine Phiri, said he was in full support of the meeting because there were a lot of things that needed to be corrected in Zimbabwe football.

Phiri, who is also a ZIFA board member, told ZTV’s Game Plan, a weekly football magazine programme that comes out on Monday night, he supported the councillors’ move.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe stayed outside the top 100 ranked teams in the world because of inactivity.

According to the statistics released by FIFA yesterday, the Warriors dropped one place on the world rankings to 107.

They remained 32nd in Africa.