BY MICHAEL KARIATI
So, the Sport and Recreation Commission (Src) has suspended 23 members of the famous Zifa Council for accepting inducements from candidates in the 2018 Zifa polls.
What Zimbabweans are not sure of is whether these 23 are alone or there are many others outside there who were clever enough to conceal their financial transactions at the time.
One only needs to follow the football social media platforms to see how hard some Zifa councillors are fighting to stay afloat just to realize how much they have been benefitting.
The suspension, however, was long overdue as allegations of ‘cash-for-my-vote’ have been flying around since 1993.
In fact, since that 1993 day when the Zifa executive of that year was elected, Zimbabwean football has never seen a true Zifa election as the polls which followed were all dominated by the odd behavior of the Zifa Council.
Whatever the case is between Fifa, the Src and Zifa, the suspension of the councillors is a step in the right direction as the Council has always considered itself untouchable despite allegations of massive corruption within its members.
It might seem like a joke but the story goes that some of the Zifa councilors turned against Cuthbert Dube after he stopped responding to their pleas for financial assistance to their never ending ‘family problems.’
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Even the late Misheck Chidzambga who won the Cecafa Cup as captain of Zimbabwe and later on the Cosafa Cup as coach of the Warriors warned just before the 2018 Zifa polls.
“We might rush to say the Zifa board has killed our football. The people who elected them are the problem. This system of give me money to vote for you has gone too far. We need to clean the Council,” said Chidzambga then.
In fact, the councillors have turned the Zifa polls into a fund raising exercise voting for one who pays more rather than the ideal candidate and the results have been there for everyone to see.
Others have even gone further forgetting that they are among the electorate and have discreetly turned themselves into campaign voices for aspiring candidates.
What is unfortunate is that this vote selling practice has continuously been passed on to new members by long serving councillors who claim to have ‘experience’ in such matters.
As a result, Zimbabwe has fallen into the habit of electing those with money but no football knowledge while competent candidates capable of injecting new life into the game have been sidelined.
What we have had are football leaders imposed on the rest of the Zifa Council by influential existing members of the assembly – some of whom have been in the Council for decades.
It is saddening that — in the process— Zimbabwe had to be served by some football leaders who could not tell the difference between a red and a yellow card or an 18 area and a centre circle.
So, if the SRC are really serious about their intentions, the idea would be to dissolve the entire Zifa Council and start afresh with a condition that those who have been there are not eligible for election.
As they say, one rotten tomato in a pack spoils the rest of the packet. On that premise, not even one of the long serving councillors should be allowed back or else the old practice will persist.
As Zimbabwe moves forward, perhaps, the suspension of the 23 councilors is the starting point towards a day when Zifa councilors would be able to cast their votes freely and with nobody pulling the strings.
Let us say farewell to vote buyers and vote sellers and let for once Zifa in 2022 hold free, fair, and credible elections. — Football would be the winner not the loser as has been the case over the past 30 years.
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