Home » Sports » ’Zifa Is Rotten, Disjointed and Confused’

GOVERNMENT yesterday removed the gloves and launched a scathing attack on the ZIFA board, with Sports Minister Andrew Langa describing the country’s football leadership as “ROTTEN AND LACKING IN PROFESSIONALISM AND ACCOUNTABILITY.”

Langa has long been criticised as having a soft spot for the ZIFA board, but his sudden hardline stance heralds a change of direction in the way he is handling the troubled and bankrupt association and spells doom for some of the leaders at 53 Livingstone Avenue.

He met the ZIFA leaders on Thursday to discuss the country’s expulsion from the 2018 World Cup, after a bungling by the association saw them sitting on a number of threats from FIFA for three years, until the case exploded last week.

Langa appears to have been disappointed with his latest meeting with the ZIFA board and the fact that the Valinhos issue was kept away from him and, as The Herald revealed yesterday, heads are likely to start rolling from next week.

ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze’s days at the association now look numbered as he has been made the fall guy of the country’s expulsion from the World Cup, the latest in a number of high-profile blunders from the secretariat.

Mashingaidze has always survived on the basis of the support that he has been receiving from ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube, but now it appears his nine lives have run out with the entire board being forced to act or face dissolution.

Langa released a hard-hitting statement yesterday, following his meeting with the full ZIFA board, after attempts by Mashingaidze to only send a faction of the board thought to be loyal to Dube was rejected by the minister.

ZIFA vice-president Omega Sibanda, women football boss Miriam Sibanda and board member (finance) Ben Gwarada, who have been critical of Mashingaidze, had initially been elbowed out of the meeting before the minister intervened.

The first signs that Mashingaidze’s days were numbered came when he was asked to go out, leaving the board members to discuss the issues that have affected their first year in office, with his name featuring prominently among the challenges they have faced.

Only one ZIFA board member, Fungai Chihuri, supported Mashingaidze during that closed-door indaba.

Yesterday, Langa drew a dagger into the ZIFA board with a scathing attack on the way they have handled the Valinhos issue and his description of the football leadership as “rotten and lacking in professionalism and accountability”, represented a major shift in the way he was going to treat them from now onwards.

“The Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture on Thursday met with the current ZIFA board to pave a way forward in light of the current disarray and suspension of Zimbabwe from the 2018 World Cup,” Langa said in a statement.

“The news of the suspension of Zimbabwe from the 2018 FIFA World Cup came as a hard blow to the Zimbabwean nation.

“The nation is disgruntled at the state of affairs of our football and, as Government, we are equally concerned.

“The current in-house squabbles at ZIFA are not helping in any way to improve our football instead they have a detrimental effect and are further plunging the people’s game into (the) abyss.

“There is in-fighting amongst the ZIFA board members who are not speaking as a single body and are using the media to settle personal vendettas.

“They need to improve on communication and, at least, show maturity.”

Then, Langa dropped his bombshell, describing ZIFA as rotten.

“ZIFA is rotten, lacking in professionalism and accountability,” the minister said.

“We cannot allow our football to be led by a disjointed and confused lot. This is intolerable and heads must roll.

“It is embarrassing that we were once a force to reckon with in football but now we are a laughing stock.

“Our current football rankings, internationally leave a lot to be desired.

“What is even more embarrassing is the impression that the Valinhos issue has created that we, as a nation, have failed to pay a debt of $67 000.

“ZIFA has failed the nation and is holding the country at ransom.

“This is ridiculous.”

Langa said the ZIFA leadership had promised him that they will pay Valinhos by the end of this month, which means that they have just a week to look for the resources.

ZIFA told the minister that they will get funds from the Premiership games, which got underway this weekend, and affiliation from the regions and provinces.

“ZIFA has promised my ministry that they have the revenue stream to settle the current debt in full by the end of April to facilitate the lifting of the current suspension of Zimbabwe from the 2018 World Cup,” Langa said in his statement.

“They have promised to fix their in-house problems and work together as a board for the good of football in Zimbabwe. I can tell you that I am not leaving any room for excuses this time.

“My ministry has resolved to set up a (Commission) of Enquiry that will assist the Government in assessing what is actually going on with regards to football management in Zimbabwe and where it needs to assist.

“My ministry is also considering conducting a Forensic Audit of ZIFA.

“Appropriate action will be deliberated on after due care.”

Langa said he also urged ZIFA to apologise to Zimbabweans for the “this disgraceful situation it has brought upon our nation.”

“I urged ZIFA to also consider apologising to Zimbabwe for this disgraceful situation it has brought upon our nation,” said Langa.

“I had hoped that by now they should have apologised or given a statement to that effect but they have kept silent and have failed to show remorse to the nation.

“Lastly, I do not want to hear any more issues of misunderstanding at ZIFA, this is one issue that has personally made me very angry and all this nonsense must stop.

“I have been blamed for being lenient to the Cuthbert Dube-led board and (this) has led to this ridiculous accusation that I am on Dube’s payroll.

“I need to state categorically that it’s malicious, hogwash and unfounded.”

Source : The Herald