Zim politicians face sport ban

SRC chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa

The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) will lobby for the banning of Members of Parliament (MPs) from holding positions in national sports associations.

This comes in the wake of recommendations made by the Zifa Restructuring Committee (ZRC) that MPs should not be allowed to hold positions in Zifa.

According to the ZRC findings, there are misgivings on MPs from holding positions in sports organisations.

“Strong sentiment was expressed in regard to banning holders of national office such as Members of Parliament, from holding office within structures of Zifa," the SRC noted from the ZRC report.

ZRC wants Zifa to establish a new constitution and recommends that; "the constitution should bar public office holders from running for Zifa office to avoid actual and perceived conflicts of interest, or politicising the association for personal glory."

SRC chairman Gerald Mlotshwa, who read the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) statement about the ZRC report on behalf of the board, added that the banning of MPs should be extended to all national associations. Some of the MPs that hold or have held positions in national sports organisation's include Zifa president Gift Banda, Philip Chiyangwa, Omega Sibanda and Tavengwa Mukuhlani at Zimbabwe Cricket.

Blessing Ruggeri chaired the ZRC that contained among others Tommy Sithole, Charles Sibanda, Desmund Ali and Joel Gombera. The committee was established following the dismissal of some Zifa board members including president Felton Kamambo, Philemon Machana and Bryton Malandule over a plethora of charges including misappropriation of Fifa funds.

Zimbabwe was banned last year by Fifa over government interference in Zifa matters. ZRC made countrywide consultations with stakeholders in the game and produced a report to the SRC which has since been presented to the Zifa executive committee led by Gift Banda before it was shared with the media yesterday. From the report the SRC noted that ZRC established that the root cause of Zifa’s problems emanate from their tired constitution.

“It is readily discernible from the committee’s recommendations that the root cause of Zifa’s problems is a deeply flawed and outdated constitution whose details are unknown to the greater numbers of its members,” an SRC statement reads in part.

The Zifa constitution, because of its flawed nature, allows for the eventual election of persons equally flawed in character and integrity and lacking basic management skills.

These persons are incapable of separating the affairs of Zifa from their personal needs and ambitions, financial and otherwise. 

It is for this reason that any previous attempts at reform within Zifa became highly charged and personalised affairs with incumbent officeholders thinking themselves attacked as individuals rather than the organisation itself or the office held within Zifa.

Zifa was being run as a fiefdom.  This lack of constitutionalism within Zifa is precisely why football in the country can be held to ransom by a handful of misguided, selfish and criminal individuals.”

SRC said that Zifa need a new constitution that can vet out individuals without football interests at heart. The new constitution is also set out to deal with semi-literate councillors, some of whom have been in the Zifa Assembly for decades.

“During hearings it became apparent that some Zifa stakeholders including so-called councillors of Zifa had never seen a copy of the association’s constitution. These same councillors occupied office without limit of tenure. Some appeared to be semi-literate. The general view was that Zifa congress simply rubber stamps the decisions of the executive committee on football matters: as long as they were transported to the bright lights of the city, fed and lodged in comfortable accommodation — with all its temptations — and paid per diems, they were happy to cast their vote in favour of their blessers.”

ZRC also noted that the Zifa Exco was not accountable to the congress as should be the case. Exco members are said to have been providing cash rewards to councillors as a way to entrench themselves.

It was established that there is no junior development programme with the funds being provided for by Fifa specifically for development being diverted to other uses.

Women football was also suffering especially due to lack of adequate representation in important offices.

Following its findings the ZRC recommended a new constitution that among other things demands a minimum threshold of educational qualifications for one to become an executive committee member while for councillors there should be “acceptable literacy skills.”

It also recommended that the government funds the activities of the national teams so that developmental funds are used for the intended purpose.

Following the ZRC report, the SRC expects Zifa to establish a new constitution that will be the basis of a roadmap towards elections across all structures.

Mlotshwa believes that Fifa is in support of the SRC and Zifa and that the world football governing body will endorse the whole programme.

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