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THE ZIFA Board have axed eight officials, including vice president Omega Sibanda, in a brutal purge targeting those accused of allegedly masterminding the boardroom coup which briefly ousted the association’s leader, Cuthbert Dube, from his post last month.

ZIFA councillors immediately hit back at Dube, accusing his leadership of domestic football as “dictatorial and directionless” and saying the latest developments will not frighten them from exercising their right to hold the game’s leaders to account.

The councillors said their fight had turned into a national battle to pluck the game from the clutches of two individuals, accusing Dube and ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, of privatising domestic football.

Sibanda declared the suspension as a nullity, saying that the ZIFA Board did not have the constitutional mandate to do that and the meeting became illegal when the original agenda was changed.

“That’s a nullity because we cannot have a board meeting where the lawyer is part of the proceedings and dominates everything when he isn’t a member of the board,” said Sibanda.

“We will continue to serve football and those who have become specialists in banning and suspending others can continue to do so.

“If you follow the way we have been suspending people, we would have won the World Cup if there was one for suspensions and there should be people who are brave enough to say that enough is enough and we won’t take that.”

Sibanda found himself stranded in Harare last night after arriving at Harare International Airport to find that the ticket booked by ZIFA for him to travel to the capital for the Board Meeting was only a one-way booking.

“I am stranded in Harare right now without transport and accommodation and you can imagine that these guys sent me a ticket to fly me to Harare so that they suspend me, whatever that means and then dump me here in the capital,” said Sibanda.

The vicious move is meant to silence dissenting voices within the ZIFA family who have been battling to revoke the mandate given to Dube in March last year, to lead domestic football for another four years, arguing that their leader has come short in his discharge of his duties.

Sibanda, who was Dube’s number two on the ZIFA Board, has the highest profile among the casualties who were booted out following a contentious meeting in the capital which some argued was unconstitutional after the agenda was doctored to factor in the dismissals and suspensions of members who have fallen out with the leadership.

Board member in charge of finance, Ben Gwarada, was also swept away in the purge and has been pushed out without being given an opportunity to involve himself in any of the Association’s financial transactions despite being in that key portfolio for more than a year.

Gwarada has been battling, without success, to get his hands on the ZIFA books since winning the mandate to take charge of the key finance portfolio in March last year and, in doing so, stepped onto the toes of some powerful individuals within the Association who decided to oust him.

Gwarada and Sibanda were accused by their fellow ZIFA Board members of attending the meeting held by some rebellious councillors on May 16 where a decision to revoke the mandate given to Dube to lead the Association was passed.

The leaders of the four regions — Northern, Central, Southern and Eastern — were also suspended yesterday after they were accused by the ZIFA Board of leading the crusade to have Dube ousted from his position.

Willard Manyengavana (Northern Region chairman), Piraishe Mabhena (Eastern Region chairman), Felton Kamambo (Central Region chairman) and Musa Mandaza (Southern Region chairman) were suspended in yesterday’s purge.

Sweeney Mushonga, the Northern Region secretary-general, was also swept away by the tide which also claimed Dennis Tshuma, the chairman of the Matabeleland North province who was accused by the ZIFA Board as being a key figure in that rebellion.

The proposal for the suspension of the football officials was made by ZIFA Board Member, Tavengwa Hara, who was one of the officials whose mandate had been revoked by the Councillors at their meeting on May 16, made the proposal that those who had led that rebellion be suspended.

Given that the groundwork had already been prepared before, as reported in The Herald yesterday, the motion sailed smoothly at the indaba by ZIFA lawyer, Ralph Maganga.

Last night, the Councillors revealed in a statement that their leadership had been suspended, describing the charges laid down by the ZIFA Board as “trumped-up” and refusing to yield to the move to push them out of the game’s administration.

They also described Dube’s leadership of domestic football as “dictatorial and directionless”.

“The ZIFA Board met today and resolved to suspend the following members:-

1. Omega Sibanda — Vice President

2. Bernard Gwarada — Board Member Finance

3. Willard Manyengavana — Northern Region Chairman

4. Sweeney Mushonga — Northern Region Secretary-General

5. Piraishe Mabhena — Eastern Region Chairman

6. Musa Mandaza — Southern Region Chairman

7. Felton Kamambo — Central Region Chairman

8. Denis Tshuma — Mat South Province Chairman

“The suspensions were based on truly trumped-up charges in an effort to weaken our position before our EGM on 20 June 2015.

“We still remain convinced that Mr (Cuthbert) Elkana Dube has FAILED to give us the leadership we deserve. The suspension of the members is also aimed at reducing our numbers and instil fear into the remaining Councillors to force us to abandon our EGM.

“No amount of force or intimidation can overcome our desire to free our football for the soccer loving Zimbabweans. We shall remain resolute and united until we achieve the VICTORY.

“We believe that we represent the masses of Zimbabwe in our cause and the nation cannot be held at ransom by two people.

“The players are not happy and so are the clubs and the soccer fans. The end is nigh to Mr Dube’s dictatorship and directionless leadership.

Our fight is for the people. Our fight is for the players. Our fight is for football. And Football will definitely win.

“Our call to you is not to lose hope. We are almost there and victory is certain. See you at the Meeting on 20 June 2015,” the Councillors said in a statement.

They were supported by the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association whose leader, Eddie Chivero, described the suspensions as a nullity.

“FIFA itself communicated with the Councillors, which means that it respected their positions in our football and while it might not have agreed with the outcome of their meeting, there was no indication from the world football governing body that the Councillors had turned into rogue individuals who should be pushed out of the game,” Chivero said.

“FIFA even said that their concerns should be included on the items of the issues that were set to be discussed by the Joint annual and extra-ordinary meeting, which means that FIFA respected their standing in the game.

“But our football leaders believe that they cannot be questioned and challenged and their best weapon is to suspend people. How many ZIFA board members have been suspended since 2010 and does that mean that all these men are wrong and only Dube and Mashingaidze are right?

“If Dube believes that he is solving the challenges in our football by suspending people then he is fooling himself and we can tell him today, loud and clear, that we are not going to take this while lying down.”

Source : The Herald

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