COSAFA have said they have been advised by Fifa that the life ban imposed by Zifa, on the regional body’s president Philip Chiyangwa, is null and void as due process was not followed by the domestic football leadership.
In fact, Cosafa say Chiyangwa has been mandated by Fifa to work with the Zifa bosses, the Sports Commission and the Government to find a lasting solution to the challenges bedeviling domestic football.
The regional football body have been having consultations with leading Fifa officials since Zifa announced they had banned Chiyangwa and Omega Sibanda, who served as the association’s vice-president until December last year, for life.
Zifa claimed Chiyangwa and Sibanda were part of a group of individuals who were allegedly sowing disharmony in domestic football and compromising the administration of the game in the country.
However, the duo have dismissed the allegations.
Legal experts had warned that the bans imposed on the duo were unlikely to be endorsed by Fifa, which would reduce them to mere cosmetic sanctions, because the two were not properly charged and also given a chance to defend themselves.
The Zifa leaders have been on a warpath with Chiyangwa and tried, but failed, to have him recalled from his position as the Cosafa boss.
Now, according to the latest Cosafa correspondence, Chiyangwa – whom Zifa had banned for life – has been mandated to help find solutions to the problems afflicting Zimbabwean football.
Recently, Fifa seconded their secretary-general Fatma Samoura, to deal with the challenges that are affecting the Confederation of African Football.
Destombes wrote a letter to Cosafa member associations on Friday advising them that, after consultations with Fifa officials, the Zifa ban on Chiyangwa could not be upheld to affect his standing as the leader of the regional football body.
‘‘We refer to correspondence sent by Zimbabwe Football Association to our MAs (Member Associations) during the month of July 2019 and to discussion that took place at Cosafa’s consultative meeting in Cairo on 17th July regarding the allegations made by the Zimbabwe Football Associations against the President of Cosafa, Dr Philip Chiyangwa,’’ Destombes wrote.
‘‘Subsequent to and as a consequence of that meeting, it was decided that a fact-finding mission would be deployed in an attempt, within the Cosafa Family, to find an amicable way forward.
“In the interim, however, a Life Ban was served upon Dr Chiyangwa and this decision was notified to Cosafa, Caf and Fifa. Following Dr Chiyangwa’s correspondence with Fifa on the matter, we can now advise our Members that:
1. Fifa are of the opinion that the Ban served on Dr Chiyangwa is a nullity as due process was not followed; and
2. Dr Chiyangwa has been mandated to find, in consultation with the Zimbabwe Football Association, the Sports & Recreation Commission and the Government of Zimbabwe, a lasting solution to the ongoing problems.’’
Yesterday, Chiyangwa, who underwent complex and major surgery, conducted by two of the world’s leading specialists, in Cape Town, South Africa, last week to treat a sight-threatening condition in his left eye which has been troubling him in the past four years, said he didn’t want to add anything to the statement.
The surgery was conducted at Mediclinic Cape Town, which describes itself as a “multidisciplinary hospital (which) offers local and international patients a broad spectrum of specialist medical services, modern facilities, high-tech equipment and outstanding nursing care.’’
Professor Darlene Lubbe, a world-leading ear, nose and throat specialist, and Dr Hamzah Mustak, an ophthalmologist, conducted the surgery.
‘‘As you might be aware, I have just recently undergone a complex operation and I was given a 10-day period in which I will be under observation by the specialists and I don’t think, at this time, I have anything to say on football, save just to say that there is a lot of value in unity than in fights’’ he said. The Chronicle