ZIFA come out guns blazing

The Herald

Robson Sharuko

Senior Sports Editor

THE ZIFA board have come out with guns blazing, accusing the Sports and Recreation of angling for the dissolution of their leadership, and saying the suspension of chief executive, Joseph Mamutse, will not be recognised by the association.

Mamutse was suspended, from all football activities, pending investigations, by the Sports Commission last week, in a move which also claimed the head of the SRC director-general, Prince Mupazviriho.

However, in a hard-hitting response, after their board meeting in Harare yesterday, the ZIFA leaders said they will not recognise Mamutse’s suspension, for the time being, and claimed this was part of the SRC’s grand plot to allegedly destabilise the association.

ZIFA said they had, for the umpteenth time, reported the matter to their principals at FIFA.

In the meantime, said the ZIFA bosses, they were also appealing to the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation to mediate in their impasse with the SRC board for the two parties to find a way to work together again.

“This ZIFA Board is serious about football development and prays that one day we have a regulator who wants to help the game and not cronies,’’ the ZIFA board said in their statement.

“Where we have erred, we are willing to be shown so we improve or even removed.

“Creation of non-existing mis-governance, lawlessness and withholding information, originally given by ZIFA, so as to justify an action will not help the game.

“We respect the institution called SRC created to help sport development by our well — meaning Government but we are increasingly developing amnesia and doubts on the motive of some, within SRC, especially their chairman (Gerald Mlotshwa) and a former football administrator (Nigel Munyati).

“A number of letters were written to the Ministry, with regards to negative interferences by the SRC.

“We would want to inform all that ZIFA is not avoiding, or trying to run away from being accountable, and answerable for its actions.

“What we refuse is acts, and decisions arrived at, using wrongful input information. Such is always a recipe for disaster.

“While some may be flowery with language, ride on some power, real and perceived, conferred onto them, we believe by doing good will always exonerate us.

“Going forward, we shall be daily telling our story and share publicly all we shall be doing and engaging with.

“ZIFA will, in the meantime, inform FIFA as it is obligated to do under the circumstances, of the yet to be confirmed suspension and veiled threats in the press statements as well as matters precedent.

“ZIFA also believe that a mediation process should be done by the Minister Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation to try and resolve the impasse between ZIFA and SRC.

“This process will effectively put to rest the issue of who is to blame between these two organisations.

“Finally, we would like to unreservedly and unconditionally thank the Government of Zimbabwe, through the two sisterly Ministries of Sport and Health, for allowing our boys to go to South Africa.

“We understand they may have been previously misinformed and hope one day those causing the confusion, while holding critical facilitatory and regulatory roles, will be able to account for their clear acts of sabotage.’’

ZIFA said they were dismayed by many of the media statements, which have come from the SRC, in general, and their chairman, in particular, in recent days, which they claim were meant to give an impression that the association were being run by officials who were coming short in the discharge of their national assignments.

“The ZIFA has noted with dismay, various ‘press releases’ in recent days allegedly from the SRC, suffice to say that ZIFA cannot, at this juncture, confirm the authenticity of these unsigned statements that are attributable to the authorship of the SRC chairman, Mr Gerald Mlotshwa.

“ZIFA, after its board meeting today, Sunday the 29th of November 2020, has decided to respond to a plethora of issues that arise from these articles.

“While the association had, for a long time, believed in the quiet diplomacy route, in its engagements with the SRC, away from the media and public glee, the nation and all stakeholders must know that several complaints against the conduct of some within the SRC Board were written on a number of occasions, including one late last month to the parent Ministry and the SRC, by ZIFA.

“The complaints in particular bordered around the tendencies by the SRC Board, over time to judge, crucify and comment based on social media falsehoods, the state of football in general.

“The SRC has been swallowing everything that comes from known life critics of the ZIFA Board and its Secretariat, to the extent of making decisions without seeking ZIFA’s position.

“ZIFA had hoped for the stability, and development of the game, and a day when SRC and ZIFA would sincerely work together for the growth of and development of football.

“However, the latest signals coming from the statements, if true, can only prove that ZIFA was wrong to believe and wish for that.

“ZIFA wishes to inform the nation and the world at large that up to the time of this release, on the 29th of November 2020, neither the Association nor its CEO has received any formal communication from the SRC regarding the suspension (of Mamutse).

“Besides press articles that allege the same, ZIFA or its employee has not been informed of this position, if at all it was made. ZIFA has made enquiries to the SRC secretariat but no one there seems to know about the alleged SRC Board meeting which sat and made the purported decision to suspend Mr Mamutse, a ZIFA employee.

“Accordingly, the ZIFA CEO is still at work, carrying his normal duties, and ZIFA will only respond further on this upon receiving the said correspondence.

“It is ZIFA’s expectation that good corporate governance as alleged played by the SRC do dictate that decisions and according to their governing Act must be arrived at legally within the confines of the Act and communicated to those affected by them especially where implementation of these require their participation.’’

ZIFA said they could not hold their chief executive responsible for the expulsion of the Young Warriors, from the COSAFA Under-17 tournament, the way their counterparts in Botswana did, because these were two different cases.

The Botswana Football Association chief executive, Mfolo Mfolo, said ZIFA, was suspended because the secretariat there didn’t carry out the MRI tests while Mamutse and his team ensured the Young Warriors underwent MRI tests in Harare.

The association were still trying to establish how one of their players could return a favourable result in Harare and an adverse one in South Africa and, until they established the facts, they could not rush to sanction their employees.

“ZIFA has since submitted a report concerning this to the SRC and attached reports of the doctors who carried out the tests,’’ the association said.

“How one can then cherry pick the CEO, who did his best even for an association whose financial pockets are not as deep as sister Football Association like Botswana, who are state-sponsored, boggles the mind.’’

ZIFA claimed they always forwarded letters, asking for their national teams to be cleared to travel outside the country, within the stipulated time frame and the association claim they now believe there were forces, at the SRC, who were sitting on those requests to further a certain agenda.

“ZIFA is aware of desperate attempts by the SRC, in particular its chairman, to try and arm-twist this simple fact just to push for the arrest of board members,’’ read the statement.

“The end game, we are told and are aware of, is to have everyone within the Board in court to justify suspension of the Board.

“The SRC wants the board to be replaced by a committee made up of members of their choice some who are rejects in football, known match-fixers, previous election losers and dismissed cheats.’’

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