You can count on Zifa bosses to fudge anything they touch notwithstanding the good intentions.
This is a group of administrators which was last year crowing about its commitment to rid football of graft which had scaled new heights amid evidence that our national football team had played in fixed matches.
The scandal now referred to as Asiagate gave the Cuthbert Dube-led team an opportunity to portray itself as a cleaning unit that was going to deal decisively with those involved in fixing matches. It appointed a team led by retired judge Justice Ahmed Ebrahim to probe the mess and give recommendations to Zifa.
Now that Dube and his team have Justice Ebrahim’s report — which names the offenders — they have suddenly become fatherly figures who are thinking aloud to forgive players who were part of the scam.
Curiously, Zifa wants us to believe it has been railroaded into this forgiving mode by the soccer supporters’ association whose members not many months ago told Parliament that Dube bribed his way to the top. The supporters were this week pleading with Dube for forgiveness and in the same breath to forgive guilty players on the pretext they would take to crime if banned from football.
Dube is warming up to this suggestion and it appears that he will do it. This new-found alliance between Zifa and the supporters’ association is a dangerous development which has nothing to do with fatherly compassion for players caught on the wrong side of the law. This is a populist move by Zifa to curry favour with football fans after major setbacks in Angola.
What is even more embarrassing about all this, are assertions by Dube that the match in Angola was also fixed. If he feels players involved in Asiagate should be pardoned, how is he then expected to handle the latest allegations of graft in Luanda?
Forgive the perpetrators again so that they do not take to crime? This smacks of a lack of seriousness and duplicity which we cannot continue to watch festering in our football. Successive Zifa administrations have been reluctant to deal with real challenges in football, which is an apparent paucity in professionalism and accountability.
The Garwe Commission report of 1996 brought to the fore crass incompetence and graft inherent in football. Recommendations of the reports were never fully implemented, hence the culture of impunity has continued to take root.
Dube and his team have an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to cleansing football by implementing recommendations of the Ebrahim report and not selectively deciding who should be punished and pardoned. It is mind-boggling why a poor Zifa would appoint a probe team, at huge expense, and then start thinking of pardoning those found guilty.
Who is benefitting from this form of leadership? Definitely not football. Is the ‘new broom’ deliberately missing the dirt in certain corners of the room?