Sikhumbuzo Moyo in BULAWAYO
THE contentious ZIFA board and extraordinary assembly meetings, which had been set for tomorrow and Saturday in the capital, have been postponed to the end of the month.Pressure has been mounting on the Sports Commission to intervene after concern was raised that the two meetings were being held in violation of the ZIFA constitution.
Critics say the ZIFA extraordinary assembly meeting was meant to purge three board members who have fallen out with the association’s chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, and councillors were being pushed into an indaba that violated the organisation’s constitution.
ZIFA vice-president, Omega Sibanda, and women football chief Miriam Sibanda, have come out in the open to criticise the way Mashingaidze has been running the operational side of the association.
Another ZIFA board member, Ben Gwarada, has also been targeted despite being isolated from the association’s financial transactions since he was elected the board member in charge of finance in March last year.
A meeting between Gwarada and treasurers of the ZIFA affiliates, which had been scheduled for tomorrow, has also been postponed.
The postponement of the board and assembly meetings will be viewed as a major triumph for those who have been arguing that the ZIFA constitution, the bible that should guide all operations at the association, was being violated to suit certain interests.
ZIFA chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, speaking through his communications manager Xolisani Gwesela, confirmed last night that the meetings had been postponed.
“The (assembly) meeting has been postponed to February 28 due to logistical challenges beyond the association’s control,” he said.
“The board meeting will now be held a day earlier, on February 27.”
The developments come after the Sports Commission demanded answers on questions that the two meetings were in violation of the ZIFA constitution.
Sports Commission director general, Charles Nhemachena, confirmed meeting Mashingaidze and impressing on him the importance that they follow their constitution.
“I was clear that they should strictly adhere to the provisions of the constitution, get in touch with him (Mashingaidze) he should be able to tell you their next move,” said Nhemachena.
After a number of calls to his mobile number were not picked, Mashingaidze finally instructed his communications manager Gwesela to give a brief statement that the meetings had been moved.
However, even postponing the meetings to the end of this month, as ZIFA say, does not resolve the key issue that they will still be in violation of the association’s constitution.
Questions were raised on the legality of the assembly meeting because, according to Article 28 of the ZIFA constitution, the weekend’s indaba was in violation of the constitution.
“The executive committee shall convene an extraordinary congress if one third of the members of ZIFA make such a request in writing. The request shall specify the items for the agenda.
“An extraordinary congress shall be held within three months of receipt of the request. If an extraordinary congress is not convened, the members who requested it may convene the congress themselves.
“As a last resort, the members may request assistance from CAF or FIFA.”
The same constitution says the members shall be notified of the place, date and agenda at least 14 days before the date of an extraordinary congress.
It has since emerged that the meeting was not called on behalf of the members (councillors), let alone the executive committee (board members).
The 14 days notice was also not given to the members.
Edward Siwela, the Sports Commission boss, issued a chilling warning on Tuesday that, even if the indaba went ahead against a background of a violation of the ZIFA constitution, any resolutions from that meeting would be deemed null and void.
ZIFA vice-president Sibanda, Gwarada and women football chief, Sibanda, are being targeted in an internal ZIFA purge.
Hawks within ZIFA have been pushing for the extraordinary meeting hoping to whip a compromised assembly into issuing a vote of confidence to show their support of the association’s president, Cuthbert Dube, and push the three board members out of the game’s leadership.
“What we gather is that the chief executive officer (Mashingaidze) is saying the meeting should have been held in November last year hence the three months notice is sufficing, but in that event, we should be having the same agenda that was set for the November meeting, but it’s not the case here, meaning it’s a new meeting altogether,” said a ZIFA councillor.
Siwela said on Tuesday they had asked for answers from Dube and they expected a reply today.
“Just this morning (Tuesday) I ordered our director-general (Charles) Nhemachena to look into this whole issue, he will confront the association president himself and if, indeed, the constitution was violated then as SRC we might be forced to come in,” Siwela said.
“What is paramount though is that people must know that the role of the SRC is mainly advisory, it should be the membership of ZIFA (councillors) who must write and raise these issues that there has been a blunt disregard of the constitution.
“But in the event the meeting goes ahead, then surely whatever decisions would have been taken during such an unconstitutional meeting must not take force because the meeting would have been just an illegal gathering.”
The Sports Commission boss refuted claims that they were folding their arms while the ZIFA leadership flagrantly violated its own constitution.
“It’s not that we are doing nothing about it, certainly not. There cannot be any talk of corporate governance without the rule of law,” he said.