Home » Sports » Zifa Councillors in Fighting Mood

THE face of the Zimbabwe football leadership could change dramatically today when ZIFA councillors meet in Harare this morning to discuss the state of the game in the country.

The councillors have braved a tough week in which those opposed to the meeting, who include ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube and chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, have been trying to persuade them to cancel the indaba.

Individual councillors say they were being asked not to attend.

There have been threats that they could face sanctions but, with those backing the indaba making up more than half the ZIFA Council, the threats have fallen on deaf ears.

Some of those who are opposed to the meeting even roped in politicians yesterday to try and intimidate the defiant councillors from attending the indaba but, once again, that failed as most of them said they were already in the capital for the meeting.

The councillors have been boosted by the backing that their meeting has received from FIFA representatives who were in Harare this week, to discuss the ZIFA debt crisis, and aised the association leaders that they had no authority to stop the meeting.

The FIFA officials said the councillors had a right to meet, as long as they form a quorum, and they are backed by the ZIFA Constitution, which empowers a third of the Assembly members to call for such an extraordinary indaba.

Mashingaidze, whose fate could be sealed by the councillors, has been battling long and hard to try and stop the meeting, even going to the extent of telling the FIFA officials that some of the signatures backing the call for the meeting were forged.

But this has not dampened the mood among the defiant councillors with the four regions – Northern, Eastern, Southern and Central – all in support of the indaba, which gives them about, at least, 14 councillors.

This means that they will just need the support of just a few others for them to go ahead with their indaba and ensure that the resolutions that are passed at the meeting are binding and will be endorsed by FIFA.

The councillors feel the ZIFA Board has been giving them a raw deal by not giving them an update of the crisis that is engulfing domestic football, especially the debt crisis that is threatening to push the association into a quagmire, and the failure by the leadership to resolve the Valinhos issue for the Warriors to return to the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

The Warriors were thrown out of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers when FIFA lost patience with ZIFA for failing to address the dispute in which Valinhos, the former Warriors coach, is claiming more than $80 000 in unpaid dues.

FIFA officials, who were in Harare this week, revealed that ZIFA have up to the end of this month to sort out the issue or the Warriors will not be allowed to be part of the World Cup qualifiers for a place in Russia in 2018.

The Premier Soccer League injected more than $65 000 into the ZIFA coffers for the football mother body to resolve the Valinhos issue but that money was diverted to settle other creditors whom the association officials felt deserved priority.

Reports have suggested that the money was diverted to pay Pandhari Lodge who recently tried to attach property belonging to ZIFA boss Dube, at his house, over an unsettled debt.

The councillors, who last year gave Dube another four-year mandate to run domestic football, are disappointed that a lot of decisions are being made, without them being appraised, with just a few people running the game in the country.

They are unhappy that Ben Gwarada, whom they elected to take care of the ZIFA finances, has been isolated from all the financial transactions at the association since he took over that portfolio in March last year with all decisions being made by the ZIFA Secretariat.

Reports that ZIFA received more than $800 000 from FIFA in the past year, with the injection of the money, and how it was used, being known just by a few officials, have also infuriated the councillors who believe they also have a huge stake in the game.

The failure by the ZIFA Secretariat, and tlhe board, to give a full explanation of the more than $700 000, which was detected as an anomaly in the financial transactions of the association by their auditors, has also angered the councillors.

“What the guys are saying is that they are part of the football family and they want some answers, inasfar as some transactions were done, and they can’t understand why the leadership, if it does not have skeletons in their cupboard, is failing to just meet us and provide those answers,” a councillor said yesterday.

“Our AGM has been moved now and again and a meeting that was supposed to be held in March has now been rescheduled for June 27 and some of us feel that this is all part of the grand plan to ensure that the board does not meet the very people who elected them and provide explanations.

“Surely, how can you have a football structure that operates with such a vacuum where you have a board, which is itself torn apart by differences amid reports that everything is being run by just two or three people, and the Assembly that does not meet its board to discuss the state of the game?

“Right now the national team is out of the World Cup qualifiers for 2018 and one would have hoped that such a crisis would make the board seek an audience with the Assembly so as to explain what is going on but nothing has happened.

“We are the ZIFA Council and we elect the board members and where we feel there are deficiencies in the way the board if operating, then we have a right to demand answers and that is what we are doing at this meeting.”

Source : The Herald