THE assumption that we learn from past mistakes apparently does not apply to the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) which keeps shooting itself in the foot, no matter how much it hurts or the damage it inflicts on itself and the country.
In July last year, the International Cricket Council (ICC) suspended Zimbabwe from all cricket activities, citing government interference in the running of the sport in the country. The SRC, a government appointed body that governs registered sporting bodies in the country had accused Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) of maladministration and ordered the board to postpone its election after claims of corruption were raised against them.
When ZC ignored the call and went ahead with its electoral process, SRC suspended the entire board.
ICC acted, suspending Zimbabwe for failing to ensure there was no government interference in the running of the sport. It also withdrew funding and barred the country from participating at ICC events.
The ICC argued that SRC’s actions violated its constitution which does not brook government interference in the administration of cricket in a country. The government relented and restored the ZC board in August, but as a result of the suspension, Zimbabwe missed the 2020 World Twenty20 qualifying tournament in the United Arab Emirates and was replaced by Nigeria in a 14-team round-robin event.
It was a costly and needless exercise which robbed the country’s cricketers of the opportunity to shine on the international stage.
So, the stage is set again for more sanctions against Zimbabwe, this time from the world football governing body, Fifa after SRC suspended Zifa’s secretary-general Joseph Mamutse over unauthorised foreign trips by national teams.
Last Thursday, SRC suspended its director-general Prince Mupazviriho and Mamutse “from all forms of football administration pending an investigation”.
Mupazviriho is a civil servant and an SRC employee, so it can suspend him as it so wishes, but Mamutse is a different case altogether. If Fifa deems his suspension constitutes government interference, then Zimbabwe is in trouble.
A Fifa suspension would mean all national teams and local clubs would be banned from playing in international competitions, and funding would cease until government actions are reversed. Article 14 of the Fifa statutes oblige all member association to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from any third party.
Last year, the SRC was cautioned by the world football governing body after trying to remove the current Zifa executive. The lessons were clearly not learnt and the country will again, pay a heavy price.