ZIFA presidential candidate Phillip Chiyangwa, whose eligibility to contest the December 5 elections has been questioned by some disgruntled former football administrators, has received backing from former Five-A-Side Soccer League administrators.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
Life Long Footballers’ Trust of Zimbabwe, fronted by former Zifa board member, Francis Zimunya, queried Chiyangwa’s eligibility for the elections, arguing he was never involved in football administration as required by the Zifa constitution.
According to the constitution, for one to contest a post in the Zifa board they should have been involved in football administration for at least five years.
Zimunya and his allies petitioned the Zifa electoral committee seeking the withdrawal of Chiyangwa’s candidature on the basis he had not been involved in football administration at any level.
“Chiyangwa was never an executive member of any club including Five-A-side soccer. He was never a founder member as alleged,” they argued in their petition. “For the record, Five-A-Side was introduced together with women soccer at the behest of Fifa, who instructed Zifa to form these structures during Leo Mugabe’s tenure. Lazarus Mhurushomana appointed the first interim committee of Five-A-Side and Chiyangwa was not one of them. Nyoka was interim chairperson and Biggie Matiza was a sponsor.”
The Zifa electoral committee chaired by retired Bulawayo High Court Judge Justice Sello Nare and deputised by former Zifa vice-president Tendai Madzorera has, however, since cleared Chiyangwa.
National vice-chairperson of Five-A-Side Soccer League, Shepherd Mpemba has leapt to the defence of Chiyangwa.
He wrote a letter on November 3 confirming that Chiyangwa had the requisite football administration experience to contest the post of Zifa president, as he was one of the founder members of Five-A-Side Soccer in the Southern Region.
It has emerged that it is the same letter the Harare businessman used as proof of his experience in football administration when he submitted his nomination papers to the electoral committee.
The Zifa electoral committee has since cleared him to contest the polls alongside other challengers for the post — Trevor Carelse Juul, Leslie Gwindi and James Takavada.
Mpempa said they were in the same committee with Chiyangwa when it was formed in 1994.
The Harare businessman resided in Bulawayo at the time.
“This is to confirm that Philip Chiyangwa was part of the founders of Southern Region Five-A-Side Soccer in 1994. The committee comprised of myself, Chiyangwa, Melusi Moyo, Omega Sibanda, Jeff Tawira, the late Johnson Chimhanzi, the late Tops Chitimbire, Roy De Sousa and Vusi Vuma. For more information please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned,” read the letter.
Veteran former Zifa senior administrator Lazarus Mhurushoma, said to have appointed the first interim committee of Five-A-Side, referred NewsDay Sports to Eddie “Mbomba” Nyatanga — the “life president” of the National Soccer Supporters’ Association, whom he said was the best source of information, since he was the secretary general of the Five-A-Side soccer when it was formed.
Nyatanga confirmed that Chiyangwa was one of the founding members in the Southern Region.
“It was divided into two — the Northern Region and the Southern Region. I was the secretary-general for the Northern Region alongside Cephas Msipa Junior, Lisbon Marufu and Joe Biggie Matiza. Chiyangwa was heavily involved in the game in the Southern Region and we regularly met him and other guys from that region. That time, there were very few black businesspeople who had money to sponsor teams. We were among those few black people with money. I also had my team, DMC Bombers in Five-A-Side and Chiyangwa was one of the founder members of Five-A-SideZifa soccer from the Southern Region.”
Sibanda, said to be one of the founder members of Five-A-Side Soccer in the southern region, confirmed Chiyangwa was once a committee member in the region. He said that they travelled with Chiyangwa to the Five-A-Side World Cup in Egypt.
“He was one of the founders of Five-A-Side Soccer in the Southern Region. He even went to the World Cup in Egypt. The problem with affiliates like Five-A-Side and area zones is that they are less publicised and when you are told the executive members you wouldn’t know them. Chiyangwa was staying in Bulawayo and was one of the committee members in the southern region,” he said.
Sibanda is contesting for the number two position in Zimbabwean football and will battle it out with Lincoln Mutasa.