PHILLIP Chiyangwa’s bizarre decision to take an 82-day sabbatical from local football, ostensibly to concentrate on his international engagements, has stung some Zifa councilors into hunting for a candidate to take him on during elections slated for later this year.
Zifa last week announced that Chiyangwa “will be exclusively attending to his international portfolios from the 8th of January 2018 to the 31st of March 2018.”
“During this period, he will entirely focus on international football programmes, where he will attend the Cosafa Annual General Meeting, the Caf Annual General Meeting, and the Fifa Football Summit.
“Consequently, all scheduled meetings with the president within the period in concern have been shelved indefinitely. During Dr Chiyangwa’s absence, Mr Omega Sibanda will be the acting president and he will superintend all Zifa issues with the assistance of fellow Executive Committee members,” added the soccer governing body in a statement.
Shockingly, Chiyangwa is going on leave when Zifa are preparing for their own AGM, where a roadmap for this year’s elections will be ratified.
“Essentially what PC is saying is that the Cosafa and Caf AGM’s are more important that the meeting we will hold on February 17,” said a Zifa councilor who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“That surprise announcement has councilors worried and I can tell you that consultations on what to do now are already in full swing and these involve hunting for a candidate to challenge Chiyangwa.”
There was wide expectation that the elections will be held in March but Zifa are only expected to announce the election roadmap at next month’s Annual General Meeting. The electoral committee that will be ratified at that February 17 meeting will need to be in existence for six months before they start conducting an election.
Consequently, the earliest possible time that the Zifa board elections — which are a culmination of a process that starts at area zone level — can be held is August this year.
Some councilors accuse Chiyangwa of deliberately delaying the electoral process so as to buy time “to put his house in order” but the Zifa boss says that is not of his own making.
Asked to respond to allegations that he was scared of going to the polls, a hostile Chiyangwa said, “Your knowledge of the game should enable you to know that elections are within the Zifa constitution.”
But it emerged last night that there is a push to waiver the requirement for the electoral committee to be in office for six months before conducting election business. A letter written to Zifa secretary general Joseph Mamutse from the Central Region, which was seen by this publication, asks him to take note of the councilors’ intention to discuss an amendment of that electoral requirement at next month’s meeting.
“The issue of the six-month waiting period is in the electoral code and can be amended by the councilors provided that we are a meeting in a properly constituted Indaba and we believed that the meeting that is coming in February will be properly constituted.”
Said another councilor, “Look here, there is not point in the electoral committee waiting for six months before getting down to work, we want to have it operating as soon as it is constituted.”
Meanwhile, Sibanda insists Chiyangwa’s absence will not affect the day to day running of Zifa.
“It’s business as usual, the Zifa constitution clearly stipulates that in the absence of the president, the acting president takes charge.
“So whatever business that has to be discussed will be discussed as and when it’s due because Zifa is not about personalities but an institution with structures,” he said.