By Petros Kausiyo
ZIFA have hit back at the Sport and Recreation Commission, with the association yesterday coming out guns blazing against the supreme sports body’s ill-timed and ill-advised bid to interfere with their electoral processes.
The Sports Commission late on Friday night once again exhibited their double standards and selective application of sports governance laws when they thrust themselves in the madness that has characterised the build-up to the 2018 ZIFA elections.
Acting Sports Commission chief Joseph Muchechetere, in his Press statement, gave the supreme body’s position on the ZIFA elections and suggested that the association was in breach of their constitution.
“The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) has observed events at the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) regarding the alleged failure to organise elections for its structures and we hereby wish to pronounce our position to the leadership of ZIFA, its members, stakeholders and the public as follows:
That we are in the process of engaging the leadership of ZIFA to offer them advice on how to properly handle the situation i.e. the electoral process for all ZIFA structures in line with the ZIFA constitution,
Wish to make it clear to ZIFA or any other Sport and Recreation organisation that we expect them to operate within the confines of their respective constitutions, provisions of the SRC Act, which is the prevailing National Law on the Organisation and Administration of Sport in Zimbabwe.
Any deviation from the above requirements will be unacceptable and will not hesitate to step in and restore order.
“May you be guided accordingly’’, said Muchechetere.
It is the stance taken by the Commission which has irked Chiyangwa’s leadership and the ZIFA boss yesterday launched a spirited defence of his association.
Chiyangwa noted that the SRC move was in fact in breach of the ZIFA Electoral Code, citing an Article that deals with the principles, obligations and rights of parties and government interference.
“The above statement manifests serious violation of the ZIFA electoral code as to begin with is premised on a wrong interpretation of the football statutes. More significantly the Press statement was issued in violation of Article 2 of the ZIFA electoral code which provides that:
The democratic principles of segregation of powers, transparency and publicising of the electoral processes of ZIFA must be observed without exception.
Government interference of any kind in the electoral process or composition of the elective body (congress) of ZIFA is not permitted. Consequently, Government rules on elections shall not apply to the elected internal bodies of ZIFA and the electoral rules of ZIFA shall not require the approval of any government body’’.
Some hawks that have been angling at toppling the Chiyangwa leadership have been claiming that the ZIFA president is in serious breach of the association’s constitution by deferring the staging of the board elections beyond March 29.
Although there is no clause in the ZIFA constitution which states that elections at the association should explicitly be held by March 29, the Sports Commission have surprisingly latched onto the side of those hawks that have been claiming that Chiyangwa has been in breach of the statutes.
The ZIFA boss, back from a series of international engagements in the last two weeks, yesterday hit back at the Sports Commission’s interference and told them off as he exercised his obligation to defend his association against undue infractions on the football statutes.
Although the Harare property mogul had been seized with CAF, FIFA and COSAFA business, he had not been lost on developments back home and has particularly been irked by the spurious claims that he has been trying to duck elections.
Chiyangwa reacted angrily to the Sports Commission’s attack on ZIFA and wrote to Muchechetere in a letter that also highlighted some of the supreme body’s glaring shortcomings that border on selective application of their mandate.
He also hit out at long serving Sports Commission chairman Edward Siwela for being equally guilty of letting the rot that crippled ZIFA continue unabated.
“This communication has been necessitated by a series of violations of duly registered ZIFA constitution and ZIFA electoral code.
“The infractions on the clear provisions of football statutes have adversely affected the sterling reconstruction efforts of the current ZIFA leadership to an institution that had suffered serious rot, insolvency, bad governance and virtual collapse right under the watch of Messrs Siwela (SRC board chairman) and Muchechetere.
“ZIFA is an affiliate of FIFA, CAF and COSAFA, the custodians of association football. In Zimbabwe both the ZIFA constitution and the ZIFA Electoral Code are duly registered in terms of Section 29 of the SRC Act.
“The fact of registration obligates any SRC office bearer to fully respect the provisions of football statutes and the authority assigned responsibilities of ZIFA’s elected office bearers.
“The ZIFA constitution imposes a responsibility on the ZIFA president to act in protection of the football statutes. Article 39 states that the ZIFA president represents ZIFA and is the last line of defence to any violation of the football statutes,’’ Chiyangwa said.
The ZIFA boss also reminded Muchechetere of how the Sports Commission were literally guilty of gross negligence of their supervisory role when corporate governance was flagrantly being violated at the association by the previous executive which left the debt ballooning to $7 million while they watched without taking any corrective measures.
“It is common case that the current executive committee of ZIFA assumed office on the 5th December 2015 upon election by the ZIFA extraordinary Congress. The election was a culmination of a vote of no confidence in the previous executive committee due to gross maladministration, financial mismanagement and infringement of football statutes.
“Regrettably both Messrs Siwela and Muchechetere had given a free rein to the previous executive committee and secretariat headed by Jonathan Mashingaidze to annihilate Zimbabwe’s most popular sport. At the time that the Philip Chiyangwa led executive came into office ZIFA was saddled with a $7 million. Zimbabwe had suffered the unprecedented humiliation of being expelled from the 2018 World cup due to non-payment of $60 000 to Mr Valinhos under the watch of Messrs Siwela and Muchechetere.
“Again on the verge of expulsion from the 2022 World Cup due to failure to pay Mr Tom Saintfiet $185 000 this amount was duly sourced and paid by the new executive within three days of being elected. Zimbabwe football had been banned for failure to fulfil key fixtures and women’s football was dysfunctional. ZIFA was battling many defenceless lawsuits totalling millions of dollars,’’ Chiyangwa wrote.
The ZIFA president also recounted how officers from the Sheriff’s office had become daily visitors at the association’s headquarters at 53 Livingstone Avenue.
“On a daily basis the sheriff’s officials were visiting ZIFA premises to execute, attach and remove ZIFA’s moveable assets. All ZIFA accounts had been judicially garnished and immoveable assets had been attached in execution.
“ZIFA was broke, unable to pay its employees, service providers and creditors. 53 Livingstone Avenue epitomised the doom and gloom that had become the hallmark of Zimbabwean football.
“Most strangely both Messrs Siwela and Muchechetere were conspicuous by their silence and inaction as the horror at ZIFA unfolded’’.
Ironically, the Sports Commission appointed a probe team on ZIFA and elected not to act on the findings of the Obadiah Moyo Commission.
“Even the SRC had appointed a commission of inquiry led by Obadiah Moyo which had completed its report in September 2015 exactly three months prior to the election of the current executive committee.
“The findings of the report were startling. It was established that among other things that there was poor governance, gross mismanagement of financial and material resources and serious fraudulent activities. The findings of the report established that administration of association football in Zimbabwe was in shambles and that ZIFA was bankrupt and technically insolvent and in a serious financial crisis.
“The findings of the commission were also reported in the audited accounts of the association’’.
ZIFA, Chiyangwa, said were still baffled on why the Commission chose to remain silent despite noting that the association was tottering on the brink of collapse, weighed down by a huge debt, failure to pay workers and unable to fulfil intentional fixtures.
“It is noteworthy that no punitive sanction whatsoever was given to those found to have been behind the destruction of football in Zimbabwe in the SRC September 2015 report.
“In fact both Messrs Siwela and Muchechetere deliberately concealed the report from the new ZIFA executive for nine months,’’ Chiyangwa said. The Herald