ELECTIONS to choose the football leadership in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the world are always a contentious issue but the battles for leadership positions often get uglier in Africa.
The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) is no exception to the kind of elections that are preceded by bitter campaign fights some of which border on mudslinging.
Many a time football administrators put aside their glossy manifestos and engage in personal battles, often to the detriment of the game.
Development, which is key to forming the bedrock of any successful sporting nation, is pushed into the shade if not totally ignored as energies are expended on campaign trails to woo the votes of the Electoral College.
In the case of ZIFA, their 2018 election has not been short on controversy especially ahead of the polls for the executive committee.
The decision by the Electoral Committee to disqualify three candidates — Felton Kamambo, Gift Banda and Mlungusi Moyo — only to reinstate them, is not the best of build-ups this and any other election needed.
But to its credit the Electoral Committee acknowledged its errors, sought and received guidance from the world soccer governing body FIFA and with the blessings of the Zurich-based institution, they rescheduled the dates for the executive committee elections.
FIFA also welcomed the reinstatement of Kamambo and Banda, who on December 16 will challenge incumbents Philip Chiyangwa and Omega Sibanda for the presidency and vice-presidency, respectively.
And on Wednesday FIFA through their secretary-general Fatma Samoura confirmed that the ZIFA polls would go ahead on December 16 as advised by the Electoral Committee and threw away the challenge by Kamambo to have the elections deferred to next year.
FIFA also strongly rebuked Kamambo for dragging their high-ranking officials into the mudslinging that has characterised the way some candidates have gone about their business.
Kamambo’s suggestions that FIFA’s director for development in Africa and the Caribbean Veron Mosengo-Omba was compromised and should not be allowed to observe the ZIFA polls did not go down well with the international body.
FIFA were also clear that the best route after all the allegations is for the elections to go ahead on December 16 and for the candidates to conform with the roadmap for the polls.
“. . . FIFA, upon receipt of various allegations in relation to ZIFA’s electoral process has sought explanations from the ZIFA administration and its Electoral Committee”.
That FIFA have been satisfied that ZIFA statutes that are directly related to this election have been followed shows the due diligence which the world pays to issues pertaining to member associations.
They intervened and assisted the contentious South African Football Association’s elections where main rival to incumbent Danny Jordan, Andile “Ace’’ Ncobo, just like Kamambo made a host of claims and even asked the world body to place SAFA under administration.
We thus welcome the suggestion that FIFA have made to Kamambo and all aspiring candidates that the election must go ahead on December 16 as the Electoral Committee have satisfied the statutory provisions.
The Electoral Committee satisfied the requirement to issue two weeks’ notice required to submit the final list of candidates to the members of ZIFA (cf. art.32 par.7 of the ZIFA Statutes).
It is time that the ZIFA elective congress get the election done and out of the of the way so that all those in leadership can focus on their respective tasks.
Zimbabwe is already lagging behind some countries in the region, notably South Africa, Zambia and Botswana, who have a number of viable and sustainable development programmes in place.
The domestic game needs to convince corporate partners that there is stability in the game and that there is a substantive leadership they can deal with.
That can only be done when there is no endless bickering in the name of election campaigning.
In just three months, Zimbabwe’s Warriors face a crucial African Cup of nations qualifier at home against Congo which they must win or draw to secure their pale at the tournament’s finals in June next year.
The Young Warriors are currently doing well at the ongoing COSAFA Under-20 Championships and such developmental squads are delicate and need a dedicated leadership to lay the groundwork for nurturing them.
But if everyone is focused on campaigning who will be looking into the needs of such teams?
The sooner the elections are out of the way the better it is for everyone as they will know there will be under the Chiyangwa leadership or the Kamambo administration for the next four years.
We say may the best man win but ultimately football must be the biggest winner.