By Ricky Zililo
When Zifa president Felton Kamambo was ushered into office in December 2018, he promised to be a unifier, but 18 months later, the Southern Region is now greatly divided under his watch.
Suspension of vice-president Gift Banda barely a month into his term, instilled fear into the councillors, as they could not challenge the Zifa board fearing victimisation.
This left Banda battling to clear his name alone, with a few councillors supporting him from the shadows.
Even after twice being cleared by Zifa’s disciplinary committee and appeals committee, the national executive committee led by Kamambo has sought to prevent Banda from returning by breaking its own rules and regulations.
Throughout the period of Banda’s suspension, he will feel let down by his own constituency, the Southern Region councillors, who’ve decided to take a back seat and watch.
While it is a fact that Banda was nominated by councillors from other regions, the Bulawayo-based businessman never hid his desire to push for development and resource allocation of football to all parts of the country.
Banda could be paying dearly for calling for a forensic audit that no other councillors have asked for before.
But in all this, it should be councillors, particularly from his home region who should be backing him.
What is clear is that Banda’s suspension from the board left southerners without representation, with some arguing that Bryton Malandule doesn’t have the clout to push for his region.
This is not the first time a Zifa vice- president from the Southern Region has been suspended.
Omega Sibanda and Ndumiso Gumede were also once “victimised” during their terms.
Concerned councillors confided that divisions are rife in the Southern Region and the Zifa national executive has managed to master the art of keeping them divided.
“The sad reality is that we’re not united as southerners. We’ve allowed people to come, dictate to us and divide us. It’s not about Gift Banda, but loss of credible men and women who are sincere about serving football.
“In the past, believe you me, the national executive wouldn’t have interfered in operations of the south. A united voice from the south was stronger than now. I doubt if past leaders would have kept quiet if one of their own was being persecuted.
“This time around we have people with no spine being seconded to national committees because those at the helm know that the people they hand pick will not challenge whatever they want to push,” said a councillor.
Another councillor said it was appalling to note that some of their peers have been reduced to “bootlickers” who spy on their meetings.
“Those in the echelons of power are always privy to what will be happening in our meetings as they happen. Some people here are comfortable being called ‘umuntu kabani’ because they spy for those who divide us. The sooner we realise that those people don’t have our best interests at heart, the better.
“Surely, how can you have a person from, for example, an area zone being catapulted to top committees ahead of experienced administrators. It’s clear they’re people they’re going to control. It’s clear we’ve got ice-cream man leaders; people who want to please everyone at the expense of truth,” fumed a councillor.
He added that the tiff between Francis Ntutha, who was reinstated to the position of Bulawayo Province chairman without being cleared of abuse of office charges should have been dealt with better.
Zifa ordered his reinstatement without even hearing the case, resulting in four members of the provincial board stepping down in protest. The Chronicle