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Walking a tight-rope … acting ZIFA boss prepares early elections

By Goodwill Zunidza, | Zim Morning Post |

Acting Zifa president Gift Banda struck a conciliatory tone on Friday as he begins his murky reign at a most difficult period for Zimbabwe football.

Banda faced an unforgiving media for the first time since the Sport and Recreation Commission confirmed his uncertain tenure last week following the Zifa Emergency General Meeting in April that restored the Bulawayo-based administrator in the Zifa echelons and elevated him to local football’s most powerful post.

They did so by axing three members of the board including president Felton Kamambo who were already serving a suspension meted out by the SRC on 16 November last year for as yet unproven allegations.

“There is need to call for an all-stakeholders meeting in order to get all those who love football to come together and craft solutions for the revival of our football,” Banda stated while flanked by the other reinstated board members, among them Premier Soccer League chairman Farai Jere, Barbara Chikosi who leads women’s football and marketing personality Sugah Chagonda.

“I think we all agree that we have lost the standards and excitement associated with Zimbabwe football as late as 10 years ago,” continued Banda.

“We will invite everyone who matters like all the former football leaders and hear their views.”

However, the ex-Njube Sundowns FC proprietor – now an opposition parliamentarian representing Nkulumane constituency – might only be in office for a limited period, probably up to December this year, or even earlier, depending on various circumstances outside of his control.

The term of the current Zifa board, under which Banda was elected as vice-president in 2019 has only six months left in office, Banda himself having endured the bulk of it on the sidelines after being suspended by his erstwhile colleagues only two months after they were voted in.

But even before December comes there remains Fifa to contend with. The last word from the international football governing body was that they still recognize Kamambo as the Zifa president and would only lift Zimbabwe’s ban from international football if SRC returns him to the fold.

Banda was resultantly grilled by Harare’s journalists who sought to establish the validity of his new designation.

Responding, the acting Zifa president was adamant the association had played by the rules and were in communication with Zurich to explain the latest developments with a view to inducing a change of heart at the Gianni Infantino-led body.

“There is a lot happening behind the scenes and we are having fruitful conversations with Fifa.”

The calm and calculated Bulawayo businessman also dropped hints of requesting for an extension of their tenure by defending the SRC when others expected him to call for an end to government’s interference in the running of football.

“There is little time for us to manuovre but we must have government’s full support even if it means meeting His Excellency (President Mnangagwa). The resources we receive from Fifa are never enough and it is government that bails us out on most occasions. We cannot work without them,” he asserted.

Zimbabwe has been frozen out of all senior and junior international tournaments for both men and women courtesy of the Fifa ban and Banda will not be welcomed in his official capacity at any football event beyond the country’s borders unless Fifa shifts from its stance, which local analysts consider unlikely.

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