By Robson Sharuko
Zambia, who are one of Zimbabwe’s three group opponents in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, moved closer to an international ban from FIFA this weekend.
This followed another setback to the electoral process for the Football Association of Zambia executive committee.
The elections were set for Saturday, but they are unlikely to be held as scheduled, as a number of interested parties continue to erect hurdles in the roadmap.
On Friday, the Office of the Electoral Commission of Zambia withdrew four of their members who were working on the electoral process.
“In view of the impending court case, in which the court has decided to stay the FAZ electoral process and elections, please be informed that the Commission has, with immediate effect, decided to withdraw the following ECZ officers from the FAZ Electoral Committee with immediate effect — Steve Nyondo, Alistair Kaleji, Bazalo Mseleka and Christopher Munachuka,’’ a statement issued by the ECZ said.
This followed the decision by Chief Resident Magistrate, Lameck Mwale, to issue a warrant of arrest against FAZ president, Andrew Kamanga, and the four ECZ officers for contempt of court.
FIFA have already warned that Zambia could be kicked out of the international football family if third parties, including the government, continue to interfere in the electoral process.
“In this regard, we refer you to Article 63 of the FAZ statutes which state that disputes in FAZ should not be taken to ordinary courts unless specifically provided otherwise by these statutes, FIFA regulations and legal provisions,’’ FIFA said in a letter to FAZ last week.
“We understand that the aforementioned Article is in line with one of FIFA’s core principles contained in Article 59 par 2 of FIFA statutes that is, the prohibition of recourse to ordinary courts of law unless specifically provided for.
“FIFA takes such a principle with the outermost seriousness and, therefore, considers that it is the responsibility of its member association to ensure that this principle is implemented at their level through a binding obligation on their own members.
“Moreover, we would like to remind FAZ that FIFA attaches importance to the obligation of all its member associations to manage their affairs independently and ensure that all its affairs are not influenced by any third party.
“We further wish to underline that the violation of the obligations laid down by FAZ or its members may lead to sanctions as provided for in the FIFA statutes, including a possible suspension.” Zambia’s Chipolopolo are one of the three teams which the Warriors have to battle in their quest for a place at the 2021 AFCON finals in Cameroon.
The others are the Desert Foxes of Algeria, who top the group after winning their first two matches, and the Zebras of Botswana, who are in third place with a point.
The Warriors are in second place with four points after beating Chipolopolo, in their backyard in Lusaka, and being held to a goalless draw at home by Botswana.
Should the Zambians be thrown out of the qualifiers, in the event FIFA settle for that route, all their results in the group matches would be declared null and void.
Both the Warriors and the Desert Foxes will lose three points each from their victories over Chipolopolo.
Last week, FAZ general-secretary, Adrian Kashala, told the Zambian media that they had been served with a court injunction forcing them to halt elections that were being held across the country.
“Yes, we have received an injunction. I think I indicated earlier on from the time we started hosting the elections that there were some people who wanted to stop us from proceeding with the elections,’’Kashala told the Zambian media.
“We knew this from a long time ago that several individuals are not happy that we have gone ahead with the elections despite us doing the right thing and following procedure in whatever we are doing.
“So, today, they came to the office and served us with an injunction to stop us from going ahead with the elections that have been on going.
“And, as I am talking to you, we have just received that document and we have decided to do what they want. We have decided to halt the elections to see what they want to do.
“I’m sure they know the implications of this. Ever since we started these elections, we have always corresponded with FIFA to get guidance and ensure that we are always doing the right thing and we have nothing to hide.
“We will inform FIFA, regarding what is happening here in the country, the most recent one regarding this injunction.
“Unfortunately, the same people who are doing this do not care whether we are banned or not. I hope they know the consequences because it seems they don’t care what happens.
“We have always been served with injunctions and this is the third one. And the funny thing is that we are not given reasons why these injunctions are being served.’’
The boardroom wrangles come at a time when it has also been revealed that the contract of new Chipolopolo coach, Micho, has not yet been signed by Sports Minister Emmanuel Mulenga.
A former FAZ executive committee member, Luxson Kazabu, said this was another indication of the bad blood which exists between the country’s football leaders and the government.
“If the Attorney General has already approved the contract for the coach, one wonders what’s the problem the minister has,’’ Kazabu told the Zambian media.
“I can only suspect that it’s because of the current feud between the minister and FAZ and we all know where this is coming from.
“It’s because of the government, through the Minister of Sports, having preferences on who should be running FCA, which should not be the case. What wrong has been committed? I don’t understand.
“The buck stops at the President (Edgar Lungu) who is the (FAZ) patron and the only earnest appeal I can make to the patron is that he should intervene in order to ensure things return to normal at Football House.
“The intervention I have in mind is where the President will give instructions to the fact that FAZ should be left to run the affairs of football in the confines of their constitution and in line with the FIFA statutes, period, and everything else will return to normal.
“As for Andrew Kamanga and his team, I would urge them to remain steadfast because there is no crime that they have committed.
“Noone has told me what wrong they have done apart from saying he has failed to qualify the team to the Africa Cup of Nations twice.
“You can’t judge like that because the government is not right. They are fighting him left, right and centre. It doesn’t matter whether you are a genius, you may not achieve what you want to achieve for the nation.’’ The Herald