HARARE — Current Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) President Felton Kamambo and his predecessor Phillip Chiyangwa (also Cosafa president) are fighting a bitter cold war that has seen local football taking a back seat, with more energy put on wars than actual administration of the game.
Chiyangwa tried, unsuccessfully, to bar Kamambo from contesting him in the 2018 elections, with a litany of allegations, even to the extent of raising appeals fee to US$10 000 after the later had fought against his exclusion.
World football governing body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), were also caught up in the brouhaha and finding no case against Kamambo, declared him eligible to contest.
With this done, Chiyangwa realized his game was over and soon he lost the elections, giving up when they were going for a re-run after the first round had not produced a clear winner.
And a few weeks later, allegations of bribery began to emanate that Kamambo had manipulated the General Assembly (58 councillors who vote for the president and board members) in his favour.
Since then it has been a game of cat and mouse: Chiyangwa was reported to the police and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) for alleged abuse of Fifa development funds and the disappearance of 1000 balls donated by La Liga Africa.
On the other hand, Kamambo was arrested and arraigned before the courts for sending nasty Whatsapp messages alleging Chiyangwa had ‘misappropriated’ Fifa funds.
Kamambo, allegedly, is also being sought by police for bribing councillors in 2018.
The current board has been accused of also abusing Fifa funds, after they (funds) were moved into a private account to fend off lawsuits from creditors. Fifa have also sent their auditors to peruse Zifa accounts and found no cases of misappropriation.
Through his communication manager Xolisani Gwesela, Kamambo said he had no idea of what was being peddled in the social media about his arrest.
“The president (ZIFA) was invited by police to explain a few things, which he duly did and left, and he has never been detained by police for anything. In fact, he is discharging his duties as Zifa president as we speak and is currently seized with the Warriors next engagements against Algeria in the 2021 Africa of Nations qualifiers.
“Our theme this year is Let football do the talking. There is no time for squabbles. We have the Under 20 girls team in the next round of the World Cup qualifiers, we have Afcon and World Cup qualifiers preparations and a new coach just in; our plate is full, our focus is only on football.”
Seeing that, the wars were not taking Zimbabwe football anywhere but the abyss, Kamambo and his executive board, in January, lifted the life bans on Chiyangwa and Omega Sibanda, stating that he wanted to focus on football development.
But that came a bit late.
A week earlier, Chiyangwa had flexed his muscles as Cosafa (Council of Southern Africa Football Associations) president by barring the Zimbabwean delegation from attending the COSAFA AGM (Annual General Meeting) in Johannesburg, South Africa, much to the embarrassment of Kamambo and crew.
Chiyangwa does not comment: “These matters are before the courts and therefore sub-judice.”
Football analyst and Zifa critic Hope Chizuzu says: “Kamambo knows nothing about what is happening at Zifa. In fact, Philemon Machana is the defacto president of the association.
“Kamambo who was on Thursday (last week) forced to officiate at the unveiling of new Warriors gaffer Zdarvko Logarusic and is being conveniently used by the de facto President to drive his personal programmes.”
Kamambo’s charge sheet
1-Accused of bribing councilors to win the 2018 elections
2-Banning ex-Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa and his deputy Omega Sibanda for alleged influencing Warriors players during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt in June 2019.
3-Calling for the removal of Chiyangwa as Cosafa president, saying since he was no longer representing an association/constituency, he had no locus standi to continue in that position.
4-Mighty Warriors failure to fulfill a home World Cup fixture against Zambia at the National Sports Stadium in Harare in November 2019 after clubs withdrew the services of their players due to non-payment of winning bonuses and allowances
5-Allegedly ‘hiding’ FIFA funds-US$790 000-from creditors by moving them into the private account of Conduit Holdings, a company owned by association’s acting vice president and board member finance Philemon Machana
6-Failure to pay subscription arrears to Cosafa
Allegations against Chiyangwa
1-Accused of influencing Warriors to under-perform at the Afcon finals in Egypt in 2019, particularly in the 4-1 loss to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the final group match when all they needed was a win to make the knockout stages.
2-Using FIFA funds to bankroll his political campaigns (He is now Member of Parliament for Zvimba South)
3-Using Fifa funds to bankroll personal activities, fund lavish trips with non-association friends and associates, disguised as Zifa officials
4-Disappearance of more than 1000 balls donated by La Liga Africa for distribution to Zifa affiliates, allegedly to bankroll his political activities
5-Pushing for the arrest of his foe Kamambo, alleging he bribed his way into office.