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OMEGA Sibanda, who was on Saturday elected Zifa vice president, wants peace to return to local football after a period of factional fights and says there should be no retribution in the fraternity. Speaking just 48 hours after landing the second most powerful post in Zimbabwe football, Sibanda called for calm.

Sibanda received an overwhelming 38 votes to Elkanah Dube’s 20 to become Zifa second in command for the four years.

“There should be a spirit of reconciliation in soccer. Those who won and those that lost must work together to develop football in the country.

“People must bury the hatchet and work together, there is no use going for those you think did not vote for you,” said the Bulawayo businessman.

He said Zimbabwe football can only progress if people work together.

“Those who could not make it also wanted the best for the game. They wanted to work to take it to another level, so there would be need for the nation to have common purpose if we are to succeed.

“We will need to sit down and engage those the association owes and find common ground,” said Sibanda.

He said reconciliation was key and that Zimbabweans needed to forget about the elections which were now a part of history.

“We need to get off the election mode and forge ahead as a nation to achieve. They are history and we have to plan how we will move forward and see how best we can achieve our set targets as Zifa and the nation.”

Sibanda added that he was impressed with Leslie Gwindi’s backers who switched allegiance to presidential poll winner Cuthbert Dube during the run-off. Dube, in the first round of voting, got 24 votes, Trevor Carelse-Juul 14 and Gwindi 10.

Nigel Munyati appeared to have been ditched by the clubs that nominated him as he could not get a single vote.

“I like what Gwindi’s backers did. They showed maturity and tolerance by all voting for Dube after he could not make the two thirds majority in the first round of voting.

“We have to work together and show maturity and tolerance.”

Zimbabwe has not been spared factional fights since 2003 when Leo Mugabe and Vincent Pamire left Zifa.

Retribution has been a key element in bringing about lack of common purpose as those in power have sought to crush discerning voices.

Tension was high at the elections on Saturday and fears remain high drawn from past practices that those who did not go along with majority will be punished. Sibanda said he was confident that they would win the corporate sector’s confidence back and develop the game.

While the election process might have gone smoothly, there was however tension at the hotel where councillors were booked overnight in Harare on Saturday.

Some had been there for as long as five nights. With none of the candidates there, clandestine meetings took place well into the early hours of the following day.

Some media practitioners were also subjects of ridicule.

This writer was subjected to some abuse by a member of the Friends of the Warriors who were also booked with councillors at the hotel to drum up support.

“They used to like you Lovemore, but what has since happened to you? They are angry with you,” said president of the Friends of the Warriors, Lynn Green.

“Yaa, saka nhai ndiwe Lovemore Dube wacho? Tanzwa newe. Hatikufariri neshamwari yako yeku Herald (Robson Sharuko). Tichakusota. We don’t like you together with your friend at The Herald. We will sort you out).”

Tension was so high that even some football personalities one is used to talk to would turn and look the other way.

If the hotel atmosphere was bad, it was even worse at the Zifa Village.

A heavy police presence and youths from the Friends of the Warriors gave a false impression that something would explode. People sat in groups, stood in the shade of big trees and spoke in hushed voices for fear of being associated with certain candidates and personalities.

Some Friends of the Warriors were openly agitating for a fight if the vote did not go their candidate’s way.

“Nhasi kuchafa munhu, mudhara (Cuthbert Dube) akasahwina or anyone achavotera vamwe tikahwina tichavasota,” one said at the conference hall toilet. Some Zifa employees’ faces told of an uncertain future after the polls understandably from the conduct of the secretariat in the run up to the elections. While some celebrated the results, a sizeable number drew ugly faces of disappointment and openly spoke about fears for the future of the game.

“It is a sad day for football. We definitely needed a change, and our sympathies are with those 14 who voted for Trevor Carelse-Juul. They will be hunted down,” said Eddie Chivero of the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association. Some jubilant councillors were overheard at breakfast on Sunday asking who the 14 councillors could be.

Source : The Herald