Senior Sports Reporter
THE ZIFA councillors have vowed they will go ahead with the proposed special Extraordinary General Meeting despite the spirited attempts by some members of the association’s suspended board to block the crucial indaba through suspensions.
The affected councillors yesterday told The Herald that they are not going to give in to the suspensions, which they said were meant to cow them into silence.
One of the targeted councillors, Derrick Matapure of Mashonaland West Province, accused the suspended trio of ZIFA president Felton Kamambo, board member finance Philemon Machana and Bryton Malandule of capturing the board.
Matapure said the trio are running scared and are determined to silence the councillors because of the skeletons in their cupboard.
“Some of us are still consulting our lawyers. We need input from FIFA as well. But personally, I am not worried about this suspension, whether it holds or not, as long as I know that I am standing for the right,” said Matapure.
“Right now our football is in a sad situation. In order to save the game, I think we need people who listen to all the stakeholders, including the Government because they are a critical stakeholder in this game.
“But here we have people who have no respect for authority. They don’t listen to anyone.
“This board has forgotten where they came from. It is the ZIFA Assembly members that voted them into office and why then should it be a crime when the same Assembly requires accountability from them?
“They believe if they use intimidation and threats then the Assembly members will be whipped into line and then no one else raises his/her voice against their wrongs.”
Matapure said football has been going down under the current board because they failed to live up to the promises in their election manifestos.
He said under the current leadership, politicking and pursuance of selfish agendas have become the order of the day at the expense of football development.
“These guys have long stopped pursuing a football agenda. They started by fighting against themselves and now most of the time they are fighting against the Sports Commission. We don’t even understand what the nature of this fight is all about because they don’t even bother coming back to consult.
“It’s the Congress that should give them direction to take because this matter has gone beyond individuals. It’s about the national game and national interests that should be safeguarded.
“But they just make their own decisions, most of which we feel are detrimental to football development. That is why our football is where it is today.
“When we call for a meeting to get a better understanding of what is going on we get suspensions. Yet we wanted them to explain themselves at the EGM. Remember, these guys sold us election manifestos so we have a right to ask where our football is going. Why then are you scared if you know you are doing things correctly,” said Matapure.
Masvingo Province chairman, Nabioth Magwizi, shared almost the same sentiments with Matapure.
Magwizi said the game should not be held to ransom by a few individuals.
“Interestingly, these guys admitted that they could not hold the AGM last year because they were incapacitated by the SRC suspensions.
“For that reason we felt the whole football system should not suffer because of a few individuals that are suspended and we called for the EGM, in accordance with the ZIFA statutes.
“Surprisingly, on one hand, they claim they are suspended, but then the next day they wake up having the capacity to suspend members.
“What we know is these guys are suspended. At least that’s what they told us. FIFA advised the Sports Commission to reinstate them but up to now they have not been reinstated, we have not seen the communication.
“So it appears they do what they want, as and when they want, and on their own terms. But we are the ones who are taking the stick from the people we represent out there.
“We represent the interests of the football people in our constituencies. These people want to know what is going on with our football and they have to get the answers.
“But it’s sad these guys want to take ZIFA as their own personal property. They are not answerable to anyone. Yet we always suffer abuse wherever we go because of their excesses and it’s high time that comes to an end,” said Magwizi.
The outspoken Masvingo Province chairman also rubbished the charged that have been preferred against him by the suspended ZIFA board.
“I am surprised with the allegations. To start with, I never attended any meeting anywhere to plot the removal of the ZIFA board. I think they just targeted me because they know I question things.
“Like they claim, if I had engagements with the SRC, what crime is there in engaging with the SRC who we all know are a recognised authority under the laws of the land? Is ZIFA not registered with the SRC?
“If anything, it is these guys who have a case to answer. They failed to call for an AGM. Malandule (who is accused of sexual harassment against female referees) can’t be cleared by the board without going through the proper disciplinary processes.
“After all, this board currently does not constitute a quorum because there are only three people from the original seven. There has to be a 50 percent quorum for decisions to carry.
“We are told Stanley Chapeta has been making contributions but there is a problem with him being in that board because he was neither voted into office nor was his co-option ratified by the Congress.
“So it’s an illegal appointment. We understand Sugar Chagonda, Farai Jere and Barbra Chikosi have not been involved in the meetings because of differences.
“So whatever decisions that they have made, they are not binding because of that. We are proceeding with our EGM in April,” said Magwizi.
Another councillor, who requested anonymity, said the root problems at ZIFA lay with board member finance, Machana.
“Machana is behind all this confusion. He is the main culprit in the ZIFA shenanigans and this guy knows fully well he could be arrested, if things are done properly.
“We have observed that he is in football for the money. It’s surprising how these guys with no valued football background are always stampeding for the top posts at ZIFA. Yet they always claim ZIFA is broke.
“ZIFA gets a lot of money in hard currency from FIFA every year. There are also some extras, for instance, last year there was a Covid-19 relief fund which was not handled well.
“They have been embezzling funds for a long time and this trick of suspending the councillors is meant to ensure that the EGM doesn’t happen,” said the councillor.
The suspended ZIFA board also suspended the acting head of secretariat, Xolisani Gwesela, as well as the chief executive officer of the Premier Soccer League, Kenny Ndebele, among several other officials linked to the proposed special EGM.
Gwesela and national teams’ general manager, Wellington Mpandare, were caught up in the storm for alleged insubordination after they took instructions from “a third party” (Sports Commission) to arrange the Warriors’ participation at AFCON tournament.
The special EGM, which was supposed to take place last weekend, has since been postponed to April after FIFA urged the disgruntled members of the ZIFA Assembly to observe a three-month waiting period.
Also suspended is the ZIFA Northern Region Division One executives Martin Kweza and Sweeney Mushonga who have been at the forefront in the rebellion against the football maladministration by the Kamambo-led board.