WORLD football governing body Fifa last night threw a bombshell on Cuthbert Dube’s Zifa presidential election victory when it refused to endorse the result, amid stunning revelations of serious irregularities in the Saturday poll.
Zifa has now been advised to hold fresh polls by April 12, and avoid possible government interference, or a transitional committee will be appointed by Fifa.
Dube beat Trevor Carelse-Juul by 44 to 14 votes in the runoff after two other candidates, Leslie Gwindi and Nigel Munyati, had fallen by the wayside.
Fifa Southern and Eastern Region development officer Ashford Mamelodi observed the Saturday elections, but noted the following irregularities, among other issues:
The Electoral Committee’s composition was in violation of the Zifa Constitution (this has been previously been raised via a High Court application);
The Area Zone elections were due to be the first to be conducted, but were done last in clear violation of the constitution;
The Electoral Roll was not provided to all candidates 48 hours before the elections and was only known on election day; and
There were serious allegations of vote buying, to some extent, which can be proven after clandestine meetings 24 hours before election day.
In noting these concerns, Mamelodi said it would be in the best interests of Zimbabwean football if another election was organised in the next two weeks after all outstanding issues have been cleared, especially by the supreme sports council, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).
Jerome Valcke, the Fifa secretary-general, wrote to Zifa last night after receipt of Mamelodi’s report on the elections.
“In view of the above-mentioned issues and others, it can only be prudent that Zifa organises another election in the next weeks, by April 12 and not later than April 26, for the Zifa Board elections.
“Should you require any further assistance from the Fifa secretariat, we will be available to assist. We do however trust that you will conduct the elections in a transparent manner that follows the laid-down constitution and statutes acceptable to all contestants.
“May we also take this opportunity to remind you that any interference from any body that is not football-related will attract the maximum sentence from Fifa,” Valcke wrote to Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze.
Mashingaidze acknowledged receipt of the letter.
“We have seen the letter and we will consult with the SRC and the Electoral Committee and have a definitive date of the new elections by end of day tomorrow (today). It is our wish that elections are conducted in a fair and transparent manner that leaves football as the ultimate winner,” Mashingaidze, who is due to leave for South Africa today for a three-day Fifa seminar being hosted in conjunction with the South African Football Association, said.
The event will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre and will be attended by the presidents, secretaries-general and technical directors of the various member countries.
More than 27 member associations have been invited and most are mainly from the English-speaking African countries.
Among the areas that will be discussed during the three-day seminar are, Fifa governance reforms, new regulations governing development programmes, Fifa development programmes and services for member associations, Caf development programmes (club licensing) and co-operation between Fifa and the Confederation of African Football .
It is on the sidelines of this meeting that Mashingaidze is expected to deliver to Mamelodi the next programme of action for the elections.
SRC director-general Charles Nhemachena said he had not seen a copy of the letter, but had been informed by the Zifa secretariat of the latest developments.
“As we have always been saying, we will only play a supervisory role in the elections as directed by Fifa, otherwise anything else will be viewed as government interference and certainly will attract a ban from Fifa,” the SRC boss said.
The news will be sweet to the ears of Gwindi, Carelse-Juul and Munyati, who will now have a chance to appeal again to the 58-member Electoral College once the new date of elections is announced by end of today.