EARLIER this week, we published an article in this newspaper in which we praised ZIFA boss Felton Kamambo over the way he had executed his role in the first month of his presidency.
We noted that Kamambo, a shock winner in a ZIFA presidential poll which some analysts claim he was just a beneficiary of a protest vote by some councillors than a ride on the pedigree of his candidature, had surprised a lot of people with his charm offensive.
We found that, in a game known for its ugly politics, where new leaders usually find themselves consumed by the lure of revenge missions against those they perceive were hostile to their rise to power, Kamambo appeared refreshingly different.
A man who seemed to let bygones be bygones, a beautiful dove of hope rather than an ugly devil of destruction, who seemed more concerned with dragging this game forward than chasing shadows.
A listening leader who was on a charm offensive, fired on by a burning desire to unite his deeply divided constituency, who spoke about the values of unity and was determined to chart a new path for football in this country.
We saluted him for showing, in his first month, that he was a leader for everyone — including those who did not vote for him, a substantial constituency which makes up more than a third of the ZIFA Council — and praised his diplomacy.
However, as the ugly boardroom events that unfolded later this week have shown, it appears our analysis, based on his first month in office, could have been premature and produced a false report card of the new ZIFA leader.
As fate might have it, on the very day we published the article praising the new ZIFA boss for the good signs we were seeing from him, the dark forces that have always stalked our national game returned to haunt it.
The suspension of vice-president Gift Banda, accused by his fellow ZIFA board colleagues of having brought the game into disrepute after announcing changes to the Warriors backroom technical staff last week, was again a reminder that this game remained chained to its dark past.
A game still held hostage by some shadowy forces who appear to control it from a distance, in pursuit of their selfish agendas, and deriving their influence from claims that they are the ones who hold the keys to the power of the throne.
Those councillors who say they can install a ZIFA president, and his executive through the power of their influence in the voting structures of the game, and then hold the leaders hostage to sing their songs throughout their terms of office.
The people who, when they feel their personal interests are being threatened, can turn around and start creating perfect storms to blow away the ZIFA president, or any of the board members, who would have fallen out of favour with them.
The people who have seemingly been in those powerful structures for what appears an eternity, while the game’s leaders at the top — as represented by the ZIFA executive committee — have been rotated now and again.
Sadly, after the events on Wednesday, there are genuine fears Kamambo could fall, or has already fallen, into the same trap that has reduced a lot of ZIFA leaders, in the past, into mere stooges who are controlled remotely by forces who claim to have thrust them into office.
There are fears that Kamambo’s thrust, in which he preached development and progress in his first month in office, was not going down well with those forces whose agenda is personal, and not national, interests.
And, in the past few days, we have seemingly been shown that the more things appear to have changed, the more they have actually stayed the same.
There are signs that an authoritarian style of leadership is already taking a pattern at ZIFA, where voices who question how things are being done, are effectively silenced by being thrown out of the game through suspensions.
This is what led to the chaos that we saw when Cuthbert Dube was the ZIFA president and anyone who questioned how the game was being run would be outlawed and the constitution of the association, the Bible which should provide a template of how things should be conducted, was being trampled upon. The negativity we have seen, the confusion resulting from the events of the past few days, will certainly not impress any corporate organisations to come forward and get into partnership with this ZIFA board and, given the financial challenges they have, this could make life very difficult for them.
Kamambo still has time on his side to show us he is different from Dube, who shepherded us into the wilderness leading to our expulsion from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, and he is a disciple of the ZIFA constitution, a messenger to develop the game and, crucially, he is his own man and not a stooge being remotely controlled by a coalition of dark forces.
After all, as shown by that vote on Wednesday, if we take away his vote, it means half of his executive committee didn’t agree with the path they were now taking.