Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
AFTER nearly a fortnight of drama and some sensational claims that had threatened to blight the final phase of the ZIFA elections, the association’s lawyer, Itai Ndudzo, yesterday threw down the gauntlet on those questioning the process which he says is in fulfilment of the FIFA roadmap.
There have been accusations and counter-accusations since ZIFA’s election season went into overdrive and ahead of its business end on December 1 when the poll to choose the executive committee is conducted.
Much of the noise around the board elections was torched by the disqualifications of the pair of Felton Kamambo and Gift Banda, who had sought to challenge incumbents Philip Chiyangwa and Omega Sibanda for the president and vice-president’s posts.
Kamambo and Banda were disqualified by the ZIFA electoral committee after it emerged that they were ineligible to enter the race due to their running suspensions from football activities.
That development means Chiyangwa and Sibanda are now just awaiting the formalities of being duly declared president and vice-president on December 1 with focus now shifting to the race for the four board member positions.
Despite their disqualifications which also included failure to pass the integrity tests, Kamambo and Banda have launched spirited attempts to try and force their way into the race including reportedly submitting late appeals and failing to pay the full appeal fees.
ZIFA legal guru Ndudzo, however, dismissed as frivolous the attempts by the pair of Kamambo and Banda to appeal “when they do not have the locus standi to enter the race in the first place’’.
Ndudzo also defended the electoral committee headed by chairman Vusilizwe Vuma which was installed by the association’s congress at their February 17 meeting in Harare.
Banda had appeared to question the comparison of the electoral committee that has been administering the election season from the lower levels of the game’s administration such as area zones and including the provinces, Premier Soccer League and regions.
Ndudzo, who has rarely spoken much about the madness that has followed the second half of the 2018 ZIFA election season, however, suggested that it would be naive for someone to ask questions about the composition or integrity of the electoral committee towards the business end of the elections when Vuma and his colleagues have successfully conducted polls for the same association throughout the year and using the FIFA roadmap.
“It is important to note that the ZIFA elections are actually now at the final stage. Ninety-five percent of the elections have already been conducted by the electoral committee that was installed by the ZIFA Congress on February 17, 2017.
“They have held elections for such bodies like NAPH, NASH, Area Zones, Beach Soccer, FUTSAL, provinces, PSL and the regions.
“It is exactly the same constitution and electoral code that was being applied in that 95 percent of the elections and by the same committee and the same is being applied in the remaining five percent and this includes that one must pass certain minimum requirements in terms of football administration.
“When we speak of congress we are speaking of the same electoral college that scrutinised members of the electoral committee and they passed the integrity test,’’ Ndudzo said.
Ndudzo also said it was imperative for all ZIFA stakeholders to note that integrity tests on candidates were fundamental in order to ensure that credible administrators were being voted into office.
Crucially for ZIFA are revelations by Ndudzo that the association’s relations with FIFA were cordial while an improvement had been witnessed in the affair with the Sport and Recreation Commission.
“Relations between FIFA and ZIFA have never been better and this is why FIFA grants have continued to be received when they had been stopped under the previous board.
“The relations between the SRC and ZIFA have been on the mend by the way and the ZIFA secretariat has officially written to both bodies informing them of what is happening in the elections and they are up to speed with developments.
“FIFA have at every step of the elections always been apprised and given the greenlight and even the roadmap must be approved by them so the 95 percent we talk about today has been fully endorsed by FIFA,’’ Ndudzo said.
He also clarified that integrity tests which ZIFA had carried out were done in terms of FIFA’s ethical requirements and it was not enough “for any aspiring candidate to say because I have been arraigned before a court of law then I have passed the integrity tests”.
“When Sepp Blatter was removed from FIFA he had not been convicted in a court of law but from a FIFA ethical point of view he could not continue to hold office.
“So we are merely saying that Caesar’s wife must be beyond reproach. We are not talking about the court of law but FIFA integrity. If you are subject to investigations by any law enforcement agents which investigation questions your integrity you are not allowed to pass and in Zimbabwe’s case, we have the ZRP and ZACC which are the law enforcement agents with the capacity to that for ZIFA.
“ZIFA is a private institution which operates in accordance of the laws of Zimbabwe and if the Constitution of Zimbabwe flags someone as being investigated, they have to be cleared,’’ Ndudzo said.
It also emerged last night that contrary to popular belief, ZIFA were not investigating Kamambo for alleged rape and were neither a complainant to the Zimbabwe Republic Police for that in such a matter against their former board member.
Instead sources told The Herald that Kamambo, a regional manager with the Grain Marketing Board, allegedly has a case, which is being probed by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, which is related to questions around the distribution of the parastatal’s inputs scheme.
Ndudzo, however, chose to focus on the eligibility of the disqualified candidates and cited sections of the constitution and the electoral code that rendered Kamambo and Banda’s bids to contest the polls a nullity from the onset.
“You look at the people who have been disqualified, one (of them) has been suspended by the executive in terms of Section 34 in one of the most heinous acts of misconduct in football.
“It’s entirely nonsensical as has been claimed by some charlatans including some characters who have been masterminds of match-fixing that ZIFA have said somebody is facing rape charges. These so-called rape charges are a figment of their imagination and have been created to divert attention from the real question and issue that they have been served with charges in black and white on the football transgressions they have committed.
“Such allegations speak volumes of their integrity which is in question and some of them are just vultures and ghosts banned from anything associated with football whose spirits move in darkness and are as restless as those of any other ghosts.’’
Ndudzo also said he was surprised that the pair of Kamambo and Banda who had previously served on the ZIFA board were struggling to understand the association’s constitution.
He also scoffed at contested claims by Banda that the majority of the ZIFA councillors were Movement for Democratic Change members who would back his cause on the basis of their political affiliation.
“It is extremely disturbing to note that Banda is begging to introduce language that is alien to football by claiming that 70 percent of the ZIFA electorate are MDC members.
“Football knows no politics, football is for anyone and I don’t know why he is confusing that, politics has no place in football. It is not permissible for one to flow on their political gravitas and solicit leadership but again this is the season in football where all sorts of dramas tend to happen and like I said when football charlatans want to take a chance,’’ Ndudzo said.
Ndudzo also laughed off suggestions that FIFA would deal with individual appeals of any disqualifications from the ZIFA elections. “FIFA has one member in Zimbabwe and that member is ZIFA, so if any individual is aggrieved he or she has to follow the domestic remedies which ZIFA provide.
“Article 2 of the electoral code states that elections must be held in accordance with the ZIFA constitution.
“All the bans and suspensions are done in terms of the ZIFA constitution and FIFA itself is a structured organisation and even for one to be on their committee, one has to go through a rigorous integrity test.’’