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Zifa, Banda impasse: Benjani’s heart bleeds

By Fungai Muderere

Ex-Warriors skipper Benjani Mwaruwari reckons it’s high time the ongoing impasse between Zifa and its vice-president Gift Banda stopped, as it is detrimental to local football.

Benjani Mwaruwari celebrates his equaliser at Derby in August 2007 - and a trademark celebration was born. Picture: PA Wire/PA Photos
Benjani Mwaruwari celebrates his equaliser at Derby in August 2007 – and a trademark celebration was born. Picture: PA Wire/PA Photos

In a telephone interview from his base in the United Kingdom, the ex-Manchester City and Portsmouth forward, who is working on his coaching badges and sports management courses in England, said it was prudent for Zifa and Banda to find each other and head in the same direction.

“It’s an impasse that has dragged for too long. It’s unfortunate that Zifa has remained resolute in its bid to keep Gift Banda suspended. It really pains me because that doesn’t benefit our football at all,” said Mwaruwari.

“Finger pointing and politicking should have no place in our game. Banda has been shut out for close to two years which has got some of us, football fans, national team players and officials, and other administrators more confused. Who are we fooling?

“As a family, you cannot go to the field and have one planting orange seeds and the other planting maize seeds and expect to have the same harvest. There is need for unity of purpose at Zifa. To be frank, I blame the impasse on Zifa president Felton Kamambo.

“Kamambo and Banda should find each other for the benefit of the game. We will be heading for next Zifa elections soon and there is nothing they have collectively done for the country, which means the two guys should show maturity and sit down to resolve their differences,” he said.

Banda was elected in the December 2018 Zifa polls only to be suspended a few weeks into office on allegations of usurping the board’s powers by allegedly unilaterally dismissing the then Warriors’ assistant coaches Rahman Gumbo and Lloyd Mutasa.

Banda faced the Zifa disciplinary committee 14 months after being suspended and was cleared of any wrongdoing.

However, Zifa has remained determined to banish Banda from the game by going to the extent of appealing its own appeals committee’s ruling that also absolved him of all charges the association preferred against him.

The Bulawayo businessman and legislator, through his lawyers, is counter-arguing that the board has no legal basis “to contest their own application”.

The Zifa board meeting of January 16, 2019, resolved to suspend Banda, who sat on the sidelines for 14 months.

On March 7 this year, he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the disciplinary committee.

Zifa appealed and appeals committee chairman Stead Kachere threw out the appeal on a technicality and ruled that Banda be reinstated after the association failed to submit proof of payment as required by the law.

The board reportedly wants Banda found guilty of all charges, arguing that the disciplinary committee misdirected itself by focusing on issues that were not up for determination.

Mwaruwari was barred from contesting the Zifa presidency a few years ago on a technicality and says that development was a blessing in disguise, as it had enabled him to boost his football knowledge.

“I cannot jump into the race for the Zifa presidency. I still need four to 10 years to grow and I am happy to say I will soon be done with my Sports Management Diploma and coaching badges. After venturing into coaching here in England and doing a lot of grassroots football projects in my home town Bulawayo, I will have the guts to seek Zimbabwe’s top football office,” said Mwauwari.

He said he’s throwing his weight behind former Warriors’ teammate Alois Bunjira in the next Zifa presidency elections. The Chronicle

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