BY HENRY MHARA
ACTING Zifa president Gift Banda has said the newly-constituted football body has started negotiations with Fifa for the lifting of a ban on the country’s football mother body.
Banda addressed a Press conference in Harare yesterday, two days after his reinstatement to the board was ratified by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), where he disclosed that his executive committee was in touch with Fifa.
The football administrator, who is also a member of the House of Assembly, was elevated to the post of acting president after the Zifa council booted out Felton Kamambo as well as Philemon Machana and Bryton Malandule at an emergency general meeting (EGM) held on April 23.
“Communication with Fifa is ongoing and the communication with the SRC is also still ongoing. We are talking to Fifa to see how our suspension can be overturned because honestly speaking, all the things that we did as Zifa were all according to our constitution, so we don’t really see how Fifa will not accept the outcome of a properly constituted EGM, which gave birth to this board and saw the revocation of some of our erstwhile colleagues,” Banda said.
“It was done according to the constitution, and we hope that Fifa as a constitution-abiding body is going to take cognisance of that fact and hear our matter. We have since written to Fifa about the outcome of the EGM, which we are hoping to get a response very soon.”
Fifa suspended Zimbabwe in February over government interference after the SRC had dissolved the Kamambo-led Zifa board, that also included Farai Jere, Barbra Chikosi and Sugar Chagonda.
The SRC has since lifted the ban on Jere, Chikosi and Chagonda, while keeping the door shut on Kamambo, Machana and Malandule.
The ban has seen the Warriors barred from taking part in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers currently underway.
The team has also been booted out of the Cosafa tournament, which is scheduled to take place in South Africa next month.
“We are aware of the frustrations that the football family is currently experiencing, especially the anxiety punctuated with the confusion on whether our beloved Warriors and Mighty Warriors will be able to participate in the forthcoming international matches and tournaments,” Banda said.
“I want to assure the nation that there is a lot happening behind the scenes and we are very hopeful of succeeding on this goal. We are asking the members of the public to bear with us because this is a painful journey that we are going to be walking and it is our hope that with their understanding, we will
He said his board would meet soon to plan on how to tackle the tasks that were given to them at the EGM.
The board meeting will culminate in the association’s annual general meeting (AGM), whose 14-day notice has already been served.
He said they would also institute a forensic audit to look into the association’s financial books.
At the AGM, members of the electoral committee are set to be appointed to start preparations for the association’s elections, starting from the area zone up to the Zifa executive committee level, which are scheduled for December.
It is unlikely that they will be able to hold the executive board elections this year though.
“Logically, it’s going to be very difficult to squeeze in most of the things within now and December, but we will stand guided by the statutes and the congress on the way forward, but the processes have started,” Banda said.
He promised to deal with the problem of hooliganism that has rocked Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches in recent times, which has seen two league matches being abandoned.
“As Zifa, we do not condone this barbaric behaviour by some unruly elements masquerading as supporters. This cannot be allowed to continue as hooliganism has no place at all levels of our football. I urge the PSL leadership to act decisively and act now. I further implore the rest of our football structures to guard the integrity of our game and ensure that our matches remain safe for all.”
He also touched on the issue of Zifa general-secretary Joseph Mamutse, who has refused to return to work.
Mamutse was suspended by the SRC last year, and had his suspension lifted last month. He has, however, refused to return to office until Kamambo is reinstated.
“We have written to him demanding that he returns to work. That he doesn’t report to work becomes a matter of Labour Act because we can’t go and drag someone from his home to come to work if he feels that he is not ready to come to work or he is no longer interested in coming to work,” Banda said.
“We are going to wait for mandatory time that is allowed by the labour laws to see what course of action is going to be taken against him if he continues to absent himself without any valid reasons.”
The vacant Warriors coaching job is also on the agenda at the upcoming Zifa executive board meet.
“We will deliberate in our next meeting so that we have a substantive coach. I will prefer a local coach because it is high time we gave our own coaches a chance to lead our teams,” he said.
“Its not that everything that is foreign is good for us. As a nation, we must have an identity on what type of football we want to play so that we put it in the structures going down to the junior level.”
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