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Knowledge Musona of Zimbabwe challenged by Stanley Sanudi of Malawi during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football match between Malawi and Zimbabwe on the 14 January 2022 at Omnisport Stadium Bafoussam, Cameroon / Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix


Extension of Zifa committee’s term will be endorsement of lukewarm leadership




AN expectant nation, banished from international football for close to two years, welcomed with glee a Fifa announcement lifting the ban last July.

A Fifa-appointed normalisation committee (NC) to liquidate mal-governance in Zimbabwean football as well as restore constitutionality and grassroots structure was created – to clean up the chequered image left by previous Zifa administrations.

The normalisation committee, which is dominated by ex-footballers – both men and women – was appointed on the presumption that the particular individuals understood the game better than everyone else in the country.

Their core mandate is to hold elections and install a new team to steer the ship forward from our troubled waters. It is against this background that we take stock of their performance to date.

Once in office, murmurs of discontent emerged as the NC legal counsel, through a leaked memo, urged the committee not to fire what remained of the Zifa secretariat – the acting CEO, national teams’ general manager and the technical director. Her submission was based on lack of legal grounds to relieve the trio of their duties.

She urged the board not to be sucked into the toxic football personality clashes. Against this in-house legal opinion, the NC went ahead to retrench the trio with a good golden handshake. Suffice to say institutional memory required for re-organisation was lost. Since then, a lot of bungling and blundering has haunted the NC.

In haste to replace the CEO, the NC announced that the ex-Ngezi Platinum chief executive had been the best to emerge out of their interview process. World football governing body Fifa immediately disqualified the preferred choice as being “unfit to hold such office.” She had a few months earlier left Ngezi Platinum after scandalous allegations

had been raised against her. The NC then appointed their second choice, another woman, and, again, a former Ngezi CEO. Was it mere coincidence? If the NC was indeed strictly looking for a lady for that position, a commendable move in these changing times, didn’t we have other seasoned female administrators in the country?

The NC then announced a friendly international match against Botswana that never was, being left with egg on the face after the Botswana Football Association stated it had a friendly with Lesotho instead not Zimbabwe. Although the match was later played as part of Botswana’s Independence Day celebrations, for a team coming out of a ban Zimbabwe didn’t have enough game-time ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Rwanda and Nigeria last November.

While in Rwanda for the two qualifiers, reports filtered in of a brief player strike; apparently the NC had no contracts with the Warriors squad. The NC had allegedly refused to pay the players for their draw with Rwanda. The players got their dues after threats ahead of the drawn Nigeria tie. With better morale and training, results probably would have been different.

The Warriors coach in those matches, Portuguese Baltemar Brito, had been “borrowed” from club side Highlanders. The fellow had never coached a national team in his life, and had never won a league title in any country he has coached in. He was promptly relieved of his duties after his contract with Highlanders expired without delivering the elusive title for the Bulawayo giants.

It’s fair to conclude that Brito would still be national coach if Highlanders had rehired him. That’s because the NC prefers not to take the Warriors post seriously. They prefer a part-timer, attached and paid by a club, and the club burdening the processing of his work permit. That’s why now they are talking about appointing another club-attached coach, to pick up the pieces and experiment with the Warriors. It’s an ad-hoc approach at the expense of the national team.

Only last week, the NC disbanded the Zimbabwe Women Soccer League, citing non-compliance with statutes. Yet all other Zifa affiliates, like the PSL and four regional Division One leagues, who are equally non-compliant, were left to operate illegally. Again, it highlights an ad-hoc, inconsistent, selective, piecemeal approach to issues. I presume the ZWSL was a soft target because they are women. Why are not all non-compliant structures being dissolved and interim ones being constituted to be fair to all? After all, reconstitution of structures is the core mandate of Fifa, then elections follow.

Then NC missed a golden opportunity to network with the government and other key stakeholders at the official opening of The Heart Stadium. The country doesn’t have a single stadium for international matches, for crying out loud!

Lastly, the NC is yet to announce the roadmap and timetable for dissolution and constitution of interim committees and structures to replace non-compliant affiliates. This is so that Zifa elections and congress can be held to conclude the NC’s mandate in June. It doesn’t look like that deadline will be met, as they are yet to begin their core mandate. Thus their term will be extended, more of the same half-hearted approach to things will continue!

It is against this background that in assessing this board’s performance, I ask: what does the future hold for Zimbabwe football? The verdict is yours.

*Vincent T. Maruza, who contributes to The NewsHawks, is a freelance writer and Harare-based educational training consultant and workshop resource person. Contact: [email protected].