WORLD football mother body Fifa has warned the country of a possible ban from all football activities if the government goes ahead with its plan to dissolve the Zifa board.
HENRY MHARA SPORTS REPORTER
The warning came on Saturday, some few days after Sports deputy minister Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga called for the immediate ouster of Zifa president Cuthbert Dube for gross incompetence.
Speaking during a Parliament question-and-answer session on Wednesday, Kanengoni-Malinga said football stakeholders who voted Dube into office should rescind their decision because he had failed the local game.
However, in a letter addressed to Dube, and availed to NewsDay, Fifa regarded Kanengoni-Malinga’s threats as direct political interference by government in Zifa’s affairs and strongly warned of the country’s possible ban should the meddling continue.
Dated January 30, the letter written by Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke and copied to Caf, read: “We have learnt from media reports that Zimbabwe authorities have supposedly discussed a possibility to disband the board of the Zifa. Should the allegations prove to be true, we should like to remind you that according to Articles 13 and 17 of the Fifa statutes, Zifa has to manage its affairs independently and with no influence by any third parties.
“Failure to do so would be considered as a violation of the Fifa statutes and Zifa would be subject to sanctions, including a suspension. In addition, the suspension would only be lifted once the status quo has been restored.
“Lastly, a suspension would mean that all Fifa member associates will not entertain any sporting contact with Zifa and that Zifa would not benefit from any programme or financial assistance from Fifa and Caf.
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“We thank you to inform the interested parties accordingly and to provide us with a report on the situation as soon as possible.”
Kanengoni-Malinga has, however, said the country had reached a point where it was prepared to bear the brunt of a possible Fifa sanction in an effort to save the game which has sunk into murky waters. The Warriors have failed to qualify for three successive Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals and the 2014 World Cup during Dube’s reign while the Mighty Warriors’ preparations for both the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2015 All-Africa Games are in limbo.
Dube has of late been under pressure from various stakeholders to step down.The calls reached a crescendo on Wednesday when Kanengoni-Malinga joined the fray, calling for Dube’s immediate ouster.
Kanengoni’s utterances forced the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), the country’s supreme sports body, to spring into action, and on Saturday, the same day the letter from Fifa arrived, arraigned Dube and his entire board to a meeting to discuss the problems affecting the local game.
Speaking to NewsDay Sport yesterday, SRC board chairman Edward Siwela, while confirming that some calls for Dube to step down were genuine, said dissolving the Zifa board especially by the government, should be the “last resort”.
Siwela reckoned that some of the problems bedeviling Zifa at the moment were beyond any individual’s adequacies.
“We had our meeting with a full Zifa board where we wanted to verify the status of football in the country at the moment. Some of the issues we wanted to know are to do with governance, the state of the national team and finding various challenges that they are facing,” Siwela said.
“We wanted to know if they had a strategic plan to fund themselves in relation to the mobilisation of funds for the running of the association. They have said they will present us with their strategic plan from which we will institute a commission of inquiry to investigate. We will then make our recommendations to the ministry and hope that it gets considered.”
“But from our meeting, they were saying that their problems are to do with lack of funding, which is a valid point to be honest. We know the state of affairs in the country at the moment, the status of our economy and we should not look at their situation outside that. But we see that some of its affiliates like the Premier Soccer League are doing well in that regard so our advice to Zifa is that they need to do more especially in their planning and improve on their corporate governance.”
Added Siwela: “However, we don’t think that calling for the dissolution of the board is the best option. If we have problems with our bodies I think dissolution should be the last resort. We should let the structures do their part. They should vote them out and put in a new leadership that they think is possible. They are the best people to do that. That self-regulatory part should be the first option.”