IF the government needed any convincing that it’s game over for Zifa, then Thursday’s ban from the 2018 World Cup by Fifa brings the ammunition that they have been looking since the re-election of Cuthbert Dube in March last year.
Never mind Sports deputy minister Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga’s emotional rantings, the real issue has been raised by the Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Jonathan Moyo in response to Thursday’s disaster.
“This is the smoking gun that should be used to bring the needed change at the helm of Zifa. Valinhos was hired not by the government, but Zifa which asserts Zifa protection regarding government interference. First the Zifa council must boot out the Zifa board, no boot-out, no bailout,” Moyo tweeted.
Moyo knows that a ban would come from Fifa if government takes action, something which Kanengoni-Malinga, as Sports deputy minister, should be aware of. And as such, Moyo has put the pressure right on the Zifa assembly to take action.
Simply put, Moyo is saying the money is there and government will only bail out Zifa if the councillors show commitment to the welfare of the game by taking the first step of telling the entire board to go. The assembly is empowered by the Zifa constitution and should recall the board as a matter of urgency.
Cabinet should arm-twist Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa for the Zifa bailout.
It is a fact that Moyo is not a fan of Dube as he clearly stated last March that the Zifa electorate had prepared “a bed full of thorns and they must now lie on that bed themselves and perhaps with the leadership it voted for”.
So for now, the electorate has to take action. For Zimbabweans, this is full time for Zifa. We don’t know about those that voted them in.
What boggles the mind is that it was reported in the State media in 2009 that Fifa had deducted $60 000 from Zifa’s quarterly grants to cover the debt owed to Valinhos. The assumption was that the debt had long been extinguished, but alas, somebody was not clearly telling the truth back then.
Zifa must enhance communication with past leadership, especially former chief executive officer Henrietta Rushwaya, who claimed on Thursday that she has emails that can help Zimbabwe out of this quagmire.
She is a patriot, so she says, and we hope she does not want to hold her beloved Zimbabwe to ransom. It is hoped that Zifa will talk to Rushwaya before it’s too late. The emails can help to explain just how much Valinhos’ monthly salary was, how much Zimbabwe Tourism Authority paid, if they did pay at all, and how much was the balance from the contract.
Perhaps, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, in his pursuit of sports tourism as seen in the 2010 Zimbabwe-Brazil match that also left Zifa with a $700 000 debt to the South American agents Kentaro, needs to help explain these issues.
This could not be the first bill for a foreign coach that Zifa will face. They owe Belgian Tom Saintfiet $96 000 for a one- year deal that he signed some five years ago, but never took up the post after the government denied him a work permit.
This is just as bad as it can get.