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Regretting our absence at the Africa Cup of Nations is an emotional reaction



GERALD MLOTSHWA                        

THE Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) intervention in the affairs of Zifa was long overdue. I don’t think that any sane person can argue otherwise. That would be tantamount to condoning the rampant corruption and Incubus-like behaviour of some of the persons at the helm of football administration in Zimbabwe. 

Fifa, whilst constrained to act in accordance with the dictates of their statutes, fully appreciated the rot obtaining in Zifa. Which is why there is in place a Normalisation Committee, charged with the discharge of specific tasks, many of which relate to the address of abnormalities obtaining within the vermin infested corridors of football administration in the country. 

The respective suspensions by SRC and Fifa were absolutely necessary in getting people to appreciate the extent of the problems bedevilling football in Zimbabwe.  Those actions should be looked from the perspective of what’s good for the game in the medium to long term.  Particularly for the footballers themselves who bore the brunt of the effects of the suspensions. 

Regretting our absence at the Africa Cup of Nations this year is, in my view, an emotional reaction to a situation that requires focused pragmatism – correct decisions are almost never popular decisions, especially in this day and age of instant gratification and pleasure on demand. The Normalisation Committee knows what it needs to do.

They are not sitting there twiddling their thumbs. Let’s allow them to finish what they have been mandated to do by Fifa.  It’s a documented fact that SRC and Fifa, and by extension Caf (Confederation of African Football) and Cosafa (Council of Southern African Football Associations), are absolutely aligned on reforming our football administration.

Rome was not built in a day. The road will get much harder before it gets better, because we don’t want superficial reforms to please those that cannot control their impatience or thoughts.

Lastly, I think it’s far more constructive, objective and beneficial for all stakeholders for the media to hold to account all those responsible for reform in our football. Let be interrogated on what it is we said would do, what we have, and what we still need to do, and most importantly, whether it all makes sense. 

That’s the debate we should be having.  Watching the performances of other nations deemed inferior, and lamenting the absence of the Warriors, is with respect, an exercise in futility. It’s as good as gossiping. It doesn’t move our football forward.

About the writer: Gerald Mlotshwa is chairperson of the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), Zimbabwe’s supreme sports regulatory body. He responded to The NewsHawks this week in light of Zimbabwe’s absence from the on-going Africa Cup of Nations finals in Côte d’Ivoire after the country was thrown out of the qualification competition due to an international ban. The sacking of Zimbabwean football federation executives by the SRC in November 2021 resulted in the country’s suspension by Fifa, which was lifted in July 2023 after 17 months.

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