Inside sport: Our football politicians

Acting ZIFA president Gift Banda

ON Thursday 200 members of Fifa who were at the Fifa congress in the Rwandan capital Kigali, voted on the extension of Zimbabwe’s suspension from international football.

The countries voted 199 to one in favour of Zimbabwe’s continued isolation from the international football world, a ban that started on February 24, 2022.

Had they known that nothing was happening or being done in Zimbabwe as far as seeking a return to the Fifa family, they would not have even wasted their time voting.

We are also trying to guess or figure out which one of the 200 nations had the courage to vote for Zimbabwe’s return, probably, one of the weakest African footballing nations desperate for a team to beat.

That issue at the Fifa congress was surely a non-event because Zimbabwe has not moved a step forward since that cool February day when the country was suspended for what was termed government interference.

Surely, there was no reason to gang ourselves in the streets or at the newspaper stands to talk about a possible Zimbabwe return because readmission at the moment should be out of our minds.

In fact, Zimbabwe never sought readmission because as far as the football and sports leaders are concerned, there is really nothing on the ground that is worth appealing to Fifa for.

Where Zimbabwean football was on the day after the suspension is where it still is today — and probably worse than what it was — despite huge sums of money being spent on an investigation into the causes of the chaos in our football.

All the money that was spent and all the time the sports experts spent in their countrywide merry-go-round investigations seem to be heading nowhere as nobody seems interested in the Zifa Restructuring Committee’s findings or its recommendations.

What we can take from events on the ground is that the findings and recommendations of the Zifa Restructuring Committee will suffer a natural death just like the other investigations sponsored by the SRC before.

 Those in the know will recall the Justice Paddington Garwe investigation of 1998 when Leo Mugabe was Zifa president and the one in 2005 when Cuthbert Dube was the Zifa supremo — both of which counted for nothing.

The 2022 Zifa Restructuring Committee's findings and subsequent recommendations seem to be heading the same way as those at the helm of football seem to be deliberately avoiding the document as they are also affected by the recommendations made.

There are a lot of issues affecting those leading our football that will also affect their re-election hence the decision to ignore the contents of the investigation.

The truth is that the March 31 deadline set out by the SRC to have elections at all Zifa affiliates will not be met because there is a game of chess that is going on behind the scenes.

Zifa knows that the moment the affiliates hold their elections, the knife would then turn to them, so the more they delay the affiliate elections, the longer they stay in power.

That is also one of the tragedies of the Zifa constitution of giving too much power to interested parties — like the Zifa board — of running and setting the dates for elections of their affiliates.

After all, the two most powerful people in Zimbabwean football, the interim Zifa president Gift Banda and PSL chairman, Farai Jere, are also busy working out their political futures to be bothered with football matters.

The two, along with some other prominent football figures, are seeking parliamentary seats in the forthcoming general elections, which means, in the meantime, football business is secondary.

This, sadly, is coming at a time when football needs its leaders more — a time when everything is in disarray, a time when the lower football leagues have no direction to take, and a time when the football family is getting fed up with meetings, promises, and zero action.

Surely, with each passing day, the feeling persists that it was wrong to suspend Felton Kamambo and that it is still wrong, not to reinstate him as demanded by Fifa.

We could surely have been somewhere in our football with Kamambo — and Zimbabwe in Fifa— than where we are right now. After all Kamambo's mandate as Zifa president would have ended by now.

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