ZIFA Mashonaland West chairman, Derrick Matapure, has become the second provincial football leader to come out in full defence of the establishment in charge of the national game amid the divisions highlighted by the decision by two board members to quit their posts last week.
Matapure said he was disappointed that there was a lot of focus on elections, at the expense of the game itself, including from individuals who have not added any value to the game in their stay in leadership structures but believe they deserve to be given another chance to remain in their positions by declaring their intentions to contest elections.
He said he remained fully behind the Election Road Map which was agreed at the last ZIFA Congress and anyone who believes otherwise, including the board members who left their positions, would not have any effect to the running of domestic football.
Matapure said a lot of regional and national leaders cannot point to anything of substance, which they have done to add value to domestic football, but were always calling for elections — either for the board or for their constituencies — for them to keep feasting on the sport.
He becomes the latest high-profile figure to come out in support of the establishment after Mashonaland Central chairman Gilbert Saika.
Two former ZIFA board members, Piraishe Mabhena and Felton Kambambo, left their posts last week arguing that their mandate to remain on the board had expired.
Kamambo, a former ZIFA Central Region boss, in a subsequent media statement, claimed that board had been captured by the presidium of president Philip Chiyangwa, his deputy Omega Sibanda and finance guru Phil Machana.
Chiyangwa, who has been in Madagascar at the invitation of CAF where he met FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura, returned home yesterday and said he would not lose sleep over a rebellion by individuals who are bound to lose this battle.
“You should first tell me how we came to having a debt of over $7 million under the watch of some of those people who now want to portray themselves as good boys and how we failed to pay $67 000 to avoid expulsion from the World Cup if some of these guys really believe football owes them everything and I will address some of your questions,’’ he said.
“It’s a train that is moving and it has passed a certain station, some people have jumped for one reason or another, and that’s their choice but the train keeps going because it has a destination that has to be reached.
“Let’s see how this all unfolds but it’s not long now before we know, trust me.’’
Matapure said he was disappointed by power-hungry individuals who were either acting on their behalf or on behalf of others who now believed they were the kingmakers of domestic football.
“I have noted one thing, it seems at times we only want to focus on elections,’’ he said. “We at times only want to focus on having individuals leaving office, forgetting about the football we came in for.
“ZIFA still has to function at national level. Creditors and Messenger of Court are still running after ZIFA assets.
“What more if there is a vacuum of leadership? Our secretariat is not strong enough to fight them. Our regional leagues are about to start. They need strong leadership to get them going. Others, as we speak, are inking sponsorship deals, others as we speak are busy persuading sponsors to continue sponsoring clubs that they want to dump.
“So what will happen if there is a vacuum?
“D2 (Division Two) and D3 (Division Three) are in a very critical time as we speak. We are running around looking for clubs. We want our leagues to start. It’s tough out there. So if there is a leadership vacuum what will happen?
“Will the leagues not collapse? Congress, being congress, needs to protect its own interests, needs to protect the values and survival of football not to pursue individual interests.
“We have always operated under difficult and different environment from many football associations. Was now seeing some light at the end of it all but I think we need to be patient and think about football.
“Guys having had our AGMs in our respective constituencies explained the Election Road Map to our affiliates, renewed our sponsorship and it’s again us causing the commotion, we are shooting ourselves in the foot.’’
He said it was time for unity rather than divisions.
“Let unity of purpose save the day and football. Yes, we may differ in reason and in principle or constitution interpretation but let’s protect the game,’’ he said.
“It is more than us as individuals. When we speak we should speak after being pushed by the constituencies that we represent. Mash West just held its AGM last week but one, we explained to our people the situation we are in. we told them frankly that it’s not normal but they said they can wait.
“FIFA cannot be mum forever about this. Let’s be patient.
“I am also urging some of us who have dead constituents (like beach football) where football is not being played to put more energy so that they have members. Members who will guide them on what they say because I see some individuals who really say things based on their personal egos.
“Elections are coming and definitely those who want to stand for reelection, the time will come, the delay, for us might be a blessing in disguise. It will give us more time to prepare and put things right.
“Nobody at ZIFA fears an election. Let’s put football first.