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‘Zim football chasing its tail’

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BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
THE spirited effort by acting Zifa president Gift Banda to re-engage FIfa in a bid to have Zimbabwe re-admitted into the international football family is a futile exercise as the world football governing body will not give him an ear, a former Zifa board member has said.

Banda was appointed Zifa interim president following an emergency general meeting (EGM) held on April 23 which ousted former association president Felton Kamambo, his deputy Philemon Machana and board member Bryton Malandule over a litany of allegations including financial mismanagement.

The EGM exonerated other board members — Farai Jere, Sugar Chagonda and Barbra Chikosi who have since been retained in the board.

Following his elevation which was ratified by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) last week, Banda announced on Friday that he had written to Fifa advising them of the latest developments in the local game so that the country could be allowed back into international football.

However, a former Zifa board member who asked for anonymity for fear of victimisation, painted a gloomy picture on the possible outcome of Banda’s engagement with FIfa.

He argued that any engagements without the involvement of Kamambo as per FIfa demands were just a waste of time.

“It’s surprising, they went ahead and did exactly the opposite of what Fifa prescribed and they are now coming back to the same Fifa saying this is what we did and can you lift the ban on our football. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“Fifa will just ignore. They won’t respond until those responsible do the correct thing. The message from FIfa is simple — reinstate the Zifa board. And when they say the Zifa board, they mean the entire Zifa board not to do that selectively. Fifa made it clear the EGM was illegal. For it to gain some semblance of legality, Kamambo was supposed to be part of it, actually chairing it even if he is the accused. That’s how it’s done. So everything that was done was unconstitutional.”

He said the decision by the SRC to constitute a ZIFA Restructuring Committee to run the affairs of the association had made the situation worse.

“What is the purpose of that restructuring committee put in place by SRC?  It’s usurping the responsibility of the football parliament. SRC’s role is only regulatory. Anything else is entirely the responsibility of the football parliament. And the fact that the resolutions by the Fifa executive council were ratified by the Fifa congress means no one else can change that except that congress. So to suggest that they will engage Fifa to have Zimbabwe re-admitted into the football family without following the Fifa recommendations is a pipe dream.  Our football has taken several steps backwards,” the former Zifa board member said.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Banda said their roadmap was within the confines of the Zifa constitution and that Fifa would approve it.

“Remember Fifa said we should follow the 90 days to hold the EGM and we followed it to the letter. The issue of Kamambo, Machana and Malandule had been overtaken by events, so this was done according to the constitution and I doubt that Fifa would say what we did was not constitutional. We sent our communication to Fifa on Friday and we expect a response before the end of this week,” he said.

FIfa have demanded the unconditional reinstatement of Kamambo for them to lift the ban on Zifa.

They also did not sanction the EGM that elevated Banda.

In a letter dated April 21, 2022 addressed to Kamambo, on the eve of the EGM, Fifa’s senior manager (member associations), Sarah Solemale, wrote: “As discussed in the past weeks, it is important that in the context of the aforementioned EGM, the Zifa members and delegates understand fully the decision of Fifa council taken on February 24, 2022. Especially, they shall be reminded of the cumulative conditions imposed by Fifa council in order for the Zifa suspension to be lifted, including confirmation to Fifa that Zifa and its management led by president Felton Kamambo and general secretary Mamutse is back under their full and unconditional control.”

Zimbabwe was stripped of its Fifa membership rights in February for what the world football governing body said was third party interference in the affairs of Zifa.

The ban saw Zimbabwe failing to take part in the 2023 Afcon qualifiers currently underway.

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