Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ZIFA have made sensational claims that there is a plot to turn Zimbabwe into a pariah football state and have since written to FIFA advising the world football governing body of that scheme.
The association’s chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, disclosed this in a circular that he distributed to ZIFA board and assembly members this week.
Although the circular was written on February 9, it was only distributed to the board and assembly members yesterday and arrived just three days before the ZIFA extraordinary meeting in Harare on Saturday.
Mashingaidze has strategically distributed it this week so that it sets the tone for the indaba and the shortcomings of the secretariat, which he heads, have conveniently not been included in the circular.
It is a follow-up to the circular he sent last month where he slammed critics of the association, notably Francis Zimunya, Paddington Japajapa and Chris Sambo, as criminals and vampires.
The circular does not address the conclusion of the Asiagate saga, which Mashingaidze probably forgets that in his circular last month, he promised that outstanding cases would be dealt with beginning in January to March this year.
Now that January and February have both passed with nothing happening on that front, Mashingaidze conveniently does not address that issue in his latest circular.
Neither does he address the issue of the people who paid their appeal fees and whose cases haven’t been determined, three years after they paid US$6 000 each to the association.
Instead, Mashingaidze deals with what he calls the threat to disband the ZIFA board and how Zimbabwean football could be turned into a pariah state.
He also launches another attack on The Herald for allegedly giving ammunition to those who are fighting to disband the ZIFA board.
“The threat to disband the ZIFA board has put Zimbabwean football in the public glare and FIFA, the world football governing body, wrote a letter to ZIFA on 30 January 2015 requesting for an update on details around the threat in question, “ Mashingaidze wrote in his latest circular.
“ZIFA have since written to FIFA giving them insight into the plot to turn Zimbabwe into a pariah football nation.
“FIFA have made it clear that should the ZIFA Board be disbanded, the full wrath of the world governing body would be visited upon Zimbabwe.
“According to FIFA, the Zimbabwe Football Association, in terms of FIFA statutes 13 and 17 ‘has to manage it’s affairs independently and with no influence by any third parties.’
“The Association has since met with the Sport and Recreation Commission and the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture on the matter and you shall be updated on the outcome thereof.
“FIFA has also been favoured with a comprehensive write-up of the forces behind the plot to have Zimbabwe ostracised.
“It is sad to note that the same perennial football rejects, namely Messrs Francis Zimunya Nyamutsamba and Chris Sambo continue to torch unnecessary wild bush fires in our game at a time when we are seized with realigning our game to the new strategic plan.”
Mashingaidze said these individuals had roped in a group of others in their fight.
“The individuals in question have roped in a coterie of other selfish groups and Asiagate convicts in creating a hostile operating environment, “wrote Mashingaidze.
“Some of the individuals have christened themselves stakeholders of football yet they belong to no constituency at all.
“As if that were not enough, one media house, whose editor was at the epicentre of the worst match-fixing and illegal betting scandal, has turned it’s back page and editorial column into ‘zifa crisis pages.’
“Some of the articles that have been written to date border on the malicious and false reportage.
“In one of the articles, the Association is said to have written a letter to FIFA begging FIFA to issue threats of a possible ban.
“No letter of that sort was ever sent to FIFA.
“The ZIFA assembly as the supreme policy making body for football will have to come up with fool-proof resolutions at the indaba set for 28th February 2015 on the future of Zimbabwean football.”
Mashingaidze says some of the key issues to be addressed at the assembly indaba include the adoption of the strategic plan for 2014-2018 and ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube’s take on the state of football in Zimbabwe.
“The meeting should afford the family of football (the chance) to set the tone for the next four years,” the ZIFA chief wrote.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association debts have come down to five million one hundred thousand dollars from six million five hundred thousand dollars.
“The reduction of the debt was caused by the engagement of creditors by Dr Cuthbert Dube and the secretariat between September 2014 and January 2015.
“The exercise will continue and a report on the debt will be tabled before the ZIFA assembly on 14 January 2015.
“It is, however, saddening to note that one creditor had to attach the ZIFA president Dr Dube’s property for a ZIFA debt.
“The creditor has since been engaged and a new payment plan agreed to.
“The debt situation needs a long lasting solution and hence the engagement of creditors.”
Mashingaidze said the key areas to be addressed by the strategic plan were — finance, general administration, general development, competitions, marketing and communications, legal and policy framework and institutional capacity.
“The two flagship national teams for men and women resume action in March 2015. We wish the two teams well in their campaigns,” Mashingaidze wrote.
Speculation is rife that hardliners within the ZIFA board were yesterday ratcheting the pressure on assembly members to throw out three of their colleagues from the board on Saturday.
A shadowy meeting was held in Harare yesterday where the strategy was discussed on how this sensitive issue will be tackled.
ZIFA vice-president Omega Sibanda, board member Ben Gwarada and women football chief Miriam Sibanda are in the line of fire.
Interestingly, Mashingaidze’s circular doesn’t discuss the debt owed to Gwarada whose property was attached recently over a ZIFA debt.