SRC must wake up and smell the coffee

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Felton Kamambo

THE latest response by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to the public discourse on Zimbabwe’s suspension by Fifa has put to rest the false and misguided narrative by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) that its roadmap will culminate in the re-admission of Zifa into the international football family.

Caf’s weekend statement, in response to Zifa’s letter through which it hoped to sneak via the back door into the international football family, is heart-warmingly clear and unambiguous. It is a reaffirmation of an earlier resolution by the world soccer governing body Fifa which directed that the only way for Zimbabwe’s suspension from global football to be lifted was the unconditional reinstatement of the Felton Kamambo-led Zifa board.

And many of us have shouted ourselves hoarse over the issue and the SRC has haughtily plugged its ears to this wise counsel that Zimbabwe will only be readmitted if: “The SRC repeals the decision of November 26, 2020 suspending the Zifa general secretary; SRC repeals the SRC decision of November 16, 2021 suspending the Zifa board; SRC repeals the SRC decision of December 17, 2021 setting up the restructuring committee.”

The SRC, which suspended the entire Zifa board  led by Kamambo in November last year, chose to lift the suspension of other board members — Farai Jere, Barbara Chikosi  and Sugar Chagonda while it elevated Gift Banda to lead the association, thus side-lining Kamambo, Phillemon Machana and Bryton Malandule. The trio’s mandate was revoked at an EGM convened on April 23.

Unfortunately, in an apparent ploy to woodwink the international football committee into believing the SRC roadmap was genuine and in line with the directive from Fifa, the SRC also set up a committee and tasked it to restructure domestic football to sweet-talk Fifa into readmitting Zimbabwe.

Fifa however, refused to sanction the EGM and did not recognise the restructuring committee set up by the SRC, clearly showing the SRC the way to go.

It is quite weirdly dumbfounding how the SRC, through its new Zifa board led by Banda continues to hope against hope that Zimbabwe can be readmitted into the international football family without first reinstating the Kamambo board which it fired against Fifa rules.

It more than boggles the mind why the SRC continues to be so self-conceited to the point of convincing itself that they can overturn Fifa rules with disdainful impunity. The SRC reminds us of how the late former President Robert Mugabe singlehandedly withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth simply because he felt that no one had the right to lecture him on rule of law and abuse of human rights in the country.

Zimbabwe has now clocked two decades banished in the Siberia of international community. And until Zimbabwe gets it right on the issues that got her banished, she will forever wallow in the wilderness. So will our soccer roam the wilderness as long as SRC does not realise its folly.

Whatever shenanigans the SRC will concoct, and even if the sun starts rising from the west, the fact will still remain as clear as a blue sky that efforts by the SRC to wave the banner of football cleansing in Zimbabwe is not only a waste of time and resources, but retrogressive and an exercise in advanced tomfoolery. It takes the Zimbabwean game back to the Stone Age.

At this rate it may even be pointless to remind the SRC that Caf and FIfa actually do not need us; they would rather do without such nations as ours that care little to nothing about the rule of law. This is not about bigheaded injudicious political egos; this is about the rule of law as far as football should be governed according to Fifa rules. It is high time the SRC woke up and smelt the coffee.