Comment: Breath of fresh air at Zifa?

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NOW that Zifa president Cuthbert Dube has been booted out of the debt-ridden national association by the same people who voted him last year, is Zimbabwe going to see a breath of fresh air into the local game at national level?

After government attempts to remove Dube failed, the onus fell on the electorate to fire him and it is highly likely that chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze will follow suit today as new acting president Omega Sibanda is the only one, constitutionally, with the mandate to fire him.

Dube was given the boot together with Tawengwa Hara and Fungai Chihuri on Saturday by a group of councillors.

Dube took over in 2010 after beating Leslie Gwindi and his major highlight was the suspensions and banning of 89 players and 15 officials for the Asiagate match-fixing scandal.

He was re-elected in March 2014, beating Trevor Carelse-Juul, for a second term in office.

The Warriors, who he has been funding from his pocket, failed to qualify for the 2012, 2013 and 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals and have been banned from the 2018 World Cup preliminary round draw after failing to pay an $81 000 debt owed to former coach Jose Valinhos in outstanding salary.

The Zifa debt stands at $5 million and Dube is owed over a $1 million by Zifa, former coaches Ian Gorowa ($100 000), Rahman Gumbo ($75 000), Norman Mapeza ($240 000), CBZ Bank ($1,5 million), Pandhari Lodges ($78 000) while former employees are also owed millions and have been attaching the association’s properties.

These are the problems that Sibanda and company are taking over today.

They might have celebrated in Harare on Saturday evening, but the job is yet to start.

The song is still the same that Dube and his team were singing that government support is needed for Zifa and the national teams to prosper.

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This is the same message from Sibanda’s executive after the Saturday meeting that they will engage government for a bailout.

Whether that bailout will come, nobody knows, but what we know is the government is broke and will certainly not prioritise football over essential services.

We know the new man is very ambitious, having been an executive committee member at Highlanders at some stage before attempting to contest as vice-chairman the following year without success, though.

That aside, Sibanda must not make the same old mistake: Going after people from the previous regime to settle personal scores at the expense of the game.

The secretariat has contracts with the national association and labour cases are costly, ask Dube and Mashingaidze who are dealing with the cases brought by remnants of Wellington Nyatanga’s reign almost on a daily basis.

And Sibanda must immediately show that he is above petty politics and engage, positively, with all stakeholders for financing of the national teams and avoid adding on the already ballooning Zifa debt.

Sibanda comes in at time when the Under-23s have qualified for the All-Africa Games, the same side is playing Swaziland next Sunday in the Under-23 Championships with an eye on the 2016 Rio Olympic finals while the senior national team is already in South Africa for the Cosafa Cup where they played and won against Mauritius on Sunday.

By end of May, Zifa is expected to have paid Valinhos’ debt as dictated by a Fifa delegation that was in Zimbabwe last week or else we will have to kiss goodbye to the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Board member finance Bernard Gwarada has been crying foul over lack of access to the Zifa accounts and now he has the chance to take a deep look into these, engage creditors and make sure they understand how bad the situation is at Zifa.