By Petros Kausiyo and Eddie Chikamhi
The Sandton Project — a programme aimed at destabilising Zifa operations — rolled into Harare yesterday with calls for association’s leaders to quit because they had allegedly lost their mandate to run the national game.
However, the game’s leadership dismissed the latest attempts to create a crisis in Zimbabwean football as an act of lunacy that will not yield results.
At an indaba that failed to attract the numbers which the organiser, former Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, had invited, the delegates resolved to set up a steering committee, which they hope can be transformed into a normalisation committee that would depose the Philip Chiyangwa executive and administer the association on an interim basis “pending elections’’.
The Project, in which South Africa-based businessman Trevor Carelse-Juul is playing a very prominent role, is also targeting at securing the support of the Sports Commission through the supreme sports body’s principal figures — chairman Edward Siwela and acting director-general Joseph Muchechetere.
Carelse-Juul, who has lost the last successive Zifa elections to Cuthbert Dube (2014) and Chiyangwa (2015), flew into Harare yesterday, and presided over the indaba with the pair of past presidents — Vincent Pamire and Rafik Khan – also in attendance.
But their dream of securing a chance to run Zifa, through some “normalisation committee’’ set up, was dismissed by both the association’s vice-president Omega Sibanda and the football body’s legal adviser Itai Ndudzo last night.
Sibanda said the meeting was “an effort of people who are outside the Zifa Congress and which does not hold water as the association is governed by a constitution that is subservient to the Fifa Statutes’’.
“If congress passes resolutions, we take that to FIFA and FIFA provide the guidelines and we cannot be pressured by outside forces, including some people who contributed to the Zifa debt rising to over $7 million and were there in the board when Zimbabwe was banned from the 2018 World Cup over the Valinhos debt.“So, no one should interfere with the assembly because that assembly represents FIFA’s interests in football in Zimbabwe.
“In fact, all those who are involved in this plot will be banned from football activities. If they are genuine people why can’t they wait for the elections to throw their names into the hat instead of trying to destabilise the association?
”If they have resources to have a meeting at a five-star hotel, why didn’t they use some of their fat wallets to pay the Mighty Warriors if they are really genuine about our football, they waited until the costs of fulfiling those two matches against Namibia had been taken care of to start raising their noise,’’ Sibanda said.
Carelse-Juul and his colleagues formed an 11-member committee to spearhead the fight against the Chiyangwa leadership.
Although the line-up initially released by Mashingaidze had a host of guests, including creditors, former national teams’ managers and coaches, ex-board members and supporters, the meeting suffered a huge blow with a poor turnout of participants.
The committee set up yesterday will, apart from Carelse-Juul, Pamire and Khan also have Leslie Gwindi, former Warriors defender John Phiri, who served on the Dube board that was sacked by the assembly via a revocation, ex-Northern Region official Saidi Sangula and the quartet of Passious Masunda, Cornelius Bwanya, Richard Maseko and his wife Eusebia.
Carelse-Juul alleged that the current Zifa executive committee was illegally holding office and claimed that they have since approached Caf and Fifa about the situation in Zimbabwe football.
He argued that the term of office for the Chiyangwa executive expired on March 29 and they saw a need to set up a committee to work with the Sports Commission to allow for the facilitation of fresh elections and smooth transition.
He claimed there was “leadership vacuum” at the association following the resignation of board members Felton Kamambo and Piraishe Mabhena recently.
“I would want to make it clear that we are not here to stage a coup of some sort or unlawful takeover of Zifa but rather we are here as the elders of Zimbabwe football consisting of former presidents as articulated in clause 18 of the constitution. Due to the failings of the previous administration, who are now out of office in accordance with clause 32:10, and who are responsible, this has caused the leadership vacuum at all Zifa levels of football administration namely area zones, Futsal, beach soccer, women football, provinces, regions, Premier Soccer League and the national executive committee.
“The constitutional leadership vacuum currently existing in Zimbabwean football today cannot be ignored by any responsible citizen of Zimbabwe.
“The vacuum was occasioned by human error and apparent failings which saw the former Zifa executive committee, then in office since 5th December 2015, failing to discharge their duties which are clearly prescribed in the Zifa constitution,” said Carelse-Juul.
Among the other participants were the Lifelong Footballers Trust of Zimbabwe leaders Francis Zimunya, and Chris Sambo, Fungai Chihuri, who was in the same board with John Phiri, some former Zifa employees and ex-referee Pascal Zata.
But all the Zifa Congress members and creditors snubbed the indaba which Ndudzo reckoned was a futile exercise by “a bunch of failures’’.
“The only common thread that runs consistent about the characters that have met today is failure in life, in business, in football and any endeavour they undertake.
“It is an act of outright lunacy and certainly no football person worth their mind would pay attention to this cabal.
“These are people who have consistently and significantly contributed to the Zifa debt and stagnation of football in the country.
“Whatever decision they seek to make is of no value because the statutes are clear that the Zifa Congress, which elects an electoral committee, is the final congress before elections are held.
“The Electoral Code is also very clear that office bearers remain in office until elections are held and so I don’t know what they are smoking but whatever it is, it is so bad for their already discredited and battered reputations,’’ Ndudzo said.
He said there was no provision for a normalisation committee in the Zifa constitution.
“In the Zifa constitution there is no normalisation committee, it is in the Fifa statutes and takes place in cases where there is a leadership vacuum. If there was room for a normalisation committee in the Zifa Statutes, then that committee and not the chief executive would have administered the association after the board was revoked in 2015.
“So one can see that this is not the first time that these people have tried to seek relevance in football,’’ Ndudzo said. The Chronicle