Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—
CUTHBERT Dube quit his post as ZIFA president last night, just a few hours before the domestic football governing body’s councillors were due to revoke his mandate as their leader at their extra-ordinary general meeting in Harare today. The Harare business executive has been under a lot of pressure to relinquish his post after losing the key support of the councillors who elected him for a fresh four-year term as ZIFA president in March last year.
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Dube was first elected ZIFA boss in March 2010 when he beat former Premier Soccer League and Dynamos secretary-general Leslie Gwindi. Councillors from around the country converged in Harare yesterday for what was billed as a watershed indaba where the only issue on the agenda was the revocation of Dube’s mandate as ZIFA president. FIFA and CAF officials also arrived in the capital yesterday, ahead of the meeting, but Dube — who recently said he was more than 99.99 percent confident that he would retain his post as ZIFA president — dramatically announced his resignation from the post.
He follows in the footsteps of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who resigned from his post just a few days after winning a fresh mandate to lead the world football governing body amid a backlash of resistance from a global football family concerned by the Zurich-based organisation’s battles with widespread corruption.
Dube’s resignation was first announced by ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, who called The Herald shortly after 10pm to announce that his boss had decided to throw in the towel. Expectations have been high that Dube was unlikely to survive the no-confidence vote by the Councillors, after he lost the support of key allies like Midlands provincial chief Brian Chishanga, and virtually all the regions and other stakeholders.
“The president has stepped down, the statement just came in a few minutes ago,” said Gwesela. It was not immediately clear last night as to whether Dube could have been persuaded by the FIFA officials to step down, after it became clear that his mandate would be revoked today, or the Harare business executive simply decided that he had had enough of the pressure for him to quit.
It could not be established, too, last night as to whether the Councillors will go ahead with their motion to revoke the mandate of the ZIFA Board at their meeting scheduled for the ZIFA Village today. During Dube’s time as ZIFA president, Zimbabwe football went through a very painful period as the Warriors failed to qualify for three Nations Cup finals, including one tournament in South Africa in 2013, when they just needed to beat two teams to make it.
The lowest point for the national team came earlier this year when the Warriors were expelled from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, without kicking a ball, after ZIFA failed to pay a debt owed to Brazilian coach, Valinhos, despite several reminders from FIFA. The Warriors could also miss the 2022 World Cup finals should ZIFA fail to pay $180 000 owed to Belgian gaffer, Tom Saintfiet, who was hired by Dube and his lieutenants in 2010 but was deported by the country’s immigration authorities for working without a work permit after coaching the Warriors for just one day.
A statement released by ZIFA last night confirmed Dube’s resignation.
“In the interests of football in Zimbabwe and as a true, tried and tested patriot, I have decided to resign as ZIFA President. I shall remain President of ZIFA until elections for a new President are held on 5 December 2015,” the statement said.
“The reason for allowing for this transitional period is to ensure that they will not be a vacuum that will exacerbate rather than ameliorate the challenges that the association is facing. “Unlike what has happened in the past I intend, through this process, to ensure that there will be a proper and responsible hand-over/take-over process.
“While I have been a subject of humiliation over the past few years, I will leave office with my head high in view of the Goal Project legacy I have left. It is common cause that I am the only ZIFA President that presided over a FIFA Goal Project and saw it to its completion. “A good number of national team assignments would not have been fulfilled without commitment of my personal resources and assets. I am sure that as the new Board is ushered in at the 5th December Elective Extra-ordinary Congress, the full import of my contribution will be realised.
“I would like to thank his Excellency, Cde R G Mugabe for supporting soccer in the country as well as Cde Makhosini Hlongwane, the new Minister of Sport and Recreation for his immense contribution to soccer since assuming duty less than a month ago. I would like to put on record that without his assistance, our Mighty Warriors would not have gone to play their away game with Cameroon. I must sincerely appreciate his efforts.
“I also want to thank all the other Ministries who played their part behind the scenes. My other appreciations go to my fellow board members, both past and present, for supporting me throughout my tenure, since 2010 notwithstanding the fact that we operated under a very difficult and prohibitive environment.
“Our ZIFA committees and honorary members gave the support and advice when I most needed it. I really also want to thank our players and supporters as well as spectators who make our game governable and enjoyable. “The coaches, referees, team managers and their assistants, and all the technical teams and match commissioners deserve my gratitude for making football playable in the country and beyond. Our sponsors, big and small, deserve my compliments. The Sports and Recreation Commission has been and continues to support ZIFA in various ways.
“Last but not least, I would like to thank my family most sincerely for their solid, unwavering and unconditional support during the turbulent times throughout my tenure of office as ZIFA President. “May the Almighty God give you and your families abundant showers of blessings in all your endeavours, particularly the football endeavour. May you always remember that the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Dube was accused of his Councillors of presiding over an organisation that was drowning in financial irregularities, leading a dysfunctional organisation, failure to fulfill his election mandate and being complicit in the Warriors’ ban from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
“The board has failed to pay US$81 000 owed to Valinhos for the past six years despite several warnings from FIFA and threats of a possible ban,” the Councillors said in their charge sheet.
“The Board lied to Congress when they made the whole nation believe that the Association was engaged in task with the coach’s lawyers and FIFA and that the debt will be paid to allow Zimbabwe to take part in the World Cup. “The Board decided to use the money paid by the Premier Soccer League to pay the Valinhos debt on paying Pandhari debt because the President wanted to recover his attached property.
“The President and his board showed no remorse when they told the Congress that ‘participation of the Warriors in the 2018 World Cup was not important than the President’s attached property.’ The statement showed an irresponsible board which is not fit to continue running the office.” It was not immediately clear last night as to whether his lieutenant, ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, will now survive.