Senior Sports Reporter
A DOSSIER of incriminating documents, highlighting the decay which had crept into ZIFA, including diversion of FIFA funds, sexual harassment of female referees and a host of other ills, has emerged.
The Herald understands it is now in the hands of the world football governing body who are believed to have received it on Monday.
It was also the day FIFA had set as a deadline for the Sports Commission to reinstate the suspended ZIFA board or Zimbabwe would face the possibility of being slapped with a cocktail of sanctions.
The sanctions, which can only be determined by the FIFA Council, include the provisional suspension of the country from the world football governing body.
The first casualty of the sanctions, in the event they are enforced, will be the Warriors, who could be kicked out of the 2021 AFCON finals, even though that now looks very unlikely.
For the first time, since the saga broke out in November last year, suspended ZIFA board member, Bryton Malandule, is mentioned, in the dossier, as one of the local football officials accused of allegedly abusing their positions, to try and entice female referees, into inappropriate relationships.
Three of the referees have bravely taken their complaints to the police, and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, while others have found the entire process so stressful they have retreated into a shell.
The dossier contains a number of attachments, which highlights some of the issues which have brought local football to a virtual standstill, and led to the intervention of the Sports Commission.
There are claims the suspended football leaders were even deceiving their FIFA superiors by sending them misleading financial statements, which appeared to suggest that all the funds from Zurich were being channelled towards their intended cause, when that wasn’t the case.
For instance, the leadership of women’s football, a special constituency that is at the heart of the FIFA leadership, which have a deliberate policy to try and develop that side of the game, were not getting any of the funds which were being sent to this country for such development.
A letter penned to FIFA by Barbra Chikosi, one of the suspended ZIFA Board members, who was in charge of women football in Zimbabwe, has also emerged and is included in the dossier.
In the letter, Chikosi, raised a red flag, highlighting that funds, which were meant for her constituency, were not being channelled to the intended recipients, even though these funds were specifically coming from FIFA to help the development of women football.
FIFA specifically poured US$500 000, into women’s football, in their Covid-19 relief funds while the world football governing body have been pouring specific amounts, on an annual basis, meant to develop this sector of the game.
Investigations into the sexual harassment of female referees, according to the dossier, have also gathered pace and three of the victims have come out in the open, to press charges against those who allegedly abused them, and more are expected to lodge reports.
Officials, who include ZIFA board member and chairman of Referees Committee Bryton Malandule, and the committee’s secretary Obert Zhoya, have been fingered in the saga with the referees saying their attempts to get some form of relief, and protection, were being frustrated by the suspended ZIFA leaders.
According to the dossier, there has been massive indirect intimidation of the complainants in this matter and this has led to the process, for the complainants to get some closure, being derailed and this has ended up worsening the plight of those who feel they are the victims.
Three of the complainants have, however, bravely weathered the storm and formalised their complaints with the police and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, a body established in terms of Section 245 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, to protect them in such cases.
The case of the 23 Councillors, who were implicated in the bribery case related to the elections which brought the suspended ZIFA board into office, is highlighted in the dossier as another indication of the rot which had crept into the game.
All proffer different explanations as to why they received those monies in the first place, you will be aware the FIFA provisions regarding the acceptance of inducements of this nature, for whatever reason.
Many of the problems within football administration in Zimbabwe can be traced to these “ZIFA Councillors” and the flawed system under which they are appointed and retain office.
The issue of the petition, signed by 27 ZIFA members, calling for an extraordinary meeting, where the suspended ZIFA board members could see their mandate being revoked, is also included in the dossier.
It appears that there are designs by Congress, or at least some of them, to recall the suspended ZIFA Executive Committee members.
Whatever the motive, we trust that the outcome of the extraordinary Congress may well provide a basis for FIFA, SRC and ZIFA to engage more meaningfully in the best interests of football in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, the SRC have said they will review their decision to suspend the ZIFA board, after the completion of the internal processes which the association members have embarked upon.
They have also made it clear that the restructuring committee they appointed was not meant to run ZIFA but was an arm of the SRC to help in the restructuring of local football.
“The SRC and the Restructuring Committee, have no statutory authority whatsoever to appoint an interim board to run the affairs of ZIFA.
“In terms of Section 30 of the SRC Act, that authority is vested in the Government as represented by the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, only.
“The Minister (Kirsty Coventry) has not, in terms of that section, or any other law for that matter, made any such appointment.
“The ZIFA Restructuring Committee is a special committee of the SRC Board.”