Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ZIFA could be blindly flying into another constitutional storm which has the potential of pushing out scores of those in charge of domestic football, ahead of the elections to choose their leadership, next year.
There are signs the Ghost of 2018, which led to the intervention by FIFA, amid a stalemate in local football, could strike once again, when the association’s election season finally gets underway.
Former ZIFA president, Philip Chiyangwa, argued he still had two more years, in charge of the association, because he had only served two years.
He had taken over from Cuthbert Dube, whose mandate was revoked by the Councillors.
However, FIFA ruled the elections should go ahead, as scheduled.
And, in December 2018, Chiyangwa threw in the towel, after losing a first round contest to challenger Felton Kamambo, in the battle for the ZIFA presidency.
However, the controversial issues which blighted that process, three years ago, are yet to be resolved and could rear their ugly head, when the ZIFA election season kicks off.
Already, a number of issues remain unresolved:
While a ZIFA board mandate is supposed to run for four years, what really constitutes those four years — is it from the time they came into office or the time the election calendar was supposed to run?
If the mandate of the last ZIFA board ended in March 2018, as was spelt out by FIFA when they ruled that elections should be held, does it also mean the mandate of the current board should end in March next year?
The current leadership could argue there is a difference between assuming charge, for a fresh four-year term, as they did in December 2018, and completing the mandate of a board, whose authority had been revoked, as was the case with Chiyangwa.
But, if the extension was only a window of benevolence, which FIFA extended to help domestic football sort out its mess, leading to the elections in December 2018, will someone be wrong to argue that the original election season, which culminates in the final poll being held in March, still subsists?
Even if elections were to be held in December next year, where does all this leave the association’s principal figures, Felton Kamambo (president) and Phil Machana (acting vice president), in terms of their eligibility, to run for office, for another term?
Will they be still eligible, to run for a slot on the ZIFA board, for a third straight poll, when the association’s constitution only limits membership, on the executive committee for, at most, two terms?
Article 32 (3) of the ZIFA constitution states that “the mandate of the president, vice presidents and members of the executive committee is for four years. They may be re-elected, for one additional term.”
Kamambo and Machana were part of the ZIFA board, which came into office in December 2015, when Chiyangwa won the presidency, whose other members were Omega Sibanda and the late Piraishe Mabhena and Edzai Kasinauyo.
In March, 2018, Kamambo and Mabhena quit their posts, arguing their mandate had expired, while Machana, Sibanda and Chiyangwa remained in charge of ZIFA, until the elections were held, in December that year.
This means, according to their constitution, the maximum number of years which one can serve on the ZIFA executive, as either the president or board members, is two terms or eight years, since as they can only be re-elected for “one additional term.”
Assuming Kamambo wants to serve another term, as ZIFA boss, wouldn’t that take his time on the board to three terms, or 10 years, three months?
And how will that be considered to be not a violation of a constitution, which only gives one a mandate of a maximum of eight years, on the executive committee?
Assuming Machana wants to serve another term, on the ZIFA board, wouldn’t that take his time on the board to three terms, or 11 years?
And how will that be considered to be in line with a constitution that only provides for a mandate of a maximum of eight years, on the executive committee?
Does this mean they can be allowed to contest the polls, since they would not have technically completed the maximum eight years, on the board, and can then be asked to step down, midway during their term, once they complete the maximum possible number of years, allowed by the constitution?
On March 29, 2018, Kamambo released a statement, outlining why he had decided to step down from the ZIFA board.
“In keeping with good corporate governance, and the ZIFA constitution, I would like to put the record straight in respect of my disengagement from ZIFA, following the expiration of the constitutional term of office of the ZIFA executive committee 29th March, 2018,’’ he wrote.
“I was elected into the ZIFA board/Exco on 5th December 2015 at an EGM which had been occasioned by the recall of the entire ZIFA Executive Committee under Dr Cuthbert Dube.
“Our board, which was elected on 5th December 2015, was to complete the remainder of the term of office of Dr Dube, who had been elected into office on 29th March 2014, on a four-year term of office, which was set to expire on 29th March 2018.
“The association is best served by men and women who respect the ZIFA statutes.’’
What is very clear is that this is a constitution, which was adopted, under the assumption all the executive members would run the full course, of their four-year mandates.
And, in the event they wanted another dance, in the ZIFA leadership, they would be free to have one final four-year crack, before handing the baton to others.
However, the decision to revoke the mandate of Dube, in October 2015, which also led to the collapse of his board, changed everything, and could complicate the situation, in the next round of elections.
“What is clear from that clause in the ZIFA constitution is that it provides a cap on leadership and one can only serve a maximum of two terms on the board,’’ said a Harare lawyer, who chose anonymity.
“Barring an amendment to that clause, its pronouncement is very clear.
“And, since the ZIFA constitution applies to every facet of organised football in this country, it means even those who are in the lower leagues cannot hope to be voted into office, after more than two terms.
“Clearly, we are set to get into waters which have not been tested before, for one reason or another, but the constitution is very clear as to how long one can be in leadership.’’