THE Sports and Recreation Commission have said they are not in a hurry to lift the suspension of the ZIFA board as a condition for reinstatement of Zimbabwe’s membership by FIFA and will only do so once all the key reforms have been instituted.
ZIFA were further pushed into the corner last week when the FIFA Congress voted to confirm the suspension of Zimbabwe’s membership from the football family with 199 of the 201 members present assenting to the decision.
The global football indaba also confirmed the suspensions of the Kenya Football Federation and the Pakistan Football Federation via a majority vote.
Zimbabwe’s membership attracted the attention of FIFA after the Sports Commission suspended the ZIFA board led by Felton Kamambo last November.
The suspended board faced several allegations which included lack of transparency with public funds, maladministration, bribery, vote-buying during election time and the sexual harassment of female referees.
FIFA had said as part of the conditions for Zimbabwe’s suspension to be lifted, the Sports Commission had to reverse their decision and reinstate the suspended board, among other demands.
However, the Sports Commission chairman, Gerald Mlotshwa, yesterday said the local authorities are convinced they took the correct decision in suspending the ZIFA board.
Mlotshwa said they had already prepared for the consequences of the FIFA Congress and will go ahead with the planned clean-up of domestic football before considering FIFA membership.
“This was expected. It was simply the FIFA Congress ratifying the decision of its council to suspend Zimbabwe. The FIFA Council, formerly known as the FIFA Executive Committee, is the main decision-making body in the intervals of the FIFA Congress,” said Mlotshwa.
“Zimbabwe’s priority at the moment is reforming football administration in the country. The lifting of the suspension is not a priority at all. It will be addressed once we are satisfied that key reforms have been instituted within ZIFA.
“We are certain that the suspension will be lifted in the fullness of time and that this lifting will not be conditional to fulfilling the conditions set out in the suspension itself.”
The Sports Commission have since set up a Restructuring Committee to work on strategies to bring the administration of the domestic game back on sound footing after years of disintegration.
The committee, led by Blessing Rugara, was appointed in line with the provisions of Section 21, as well as 19(b) and 20 (c) of the SRC Act to tackle issues of strategic nature in the search for solutions in Zimbabwe’s perennial football administration problems.
This committee, made up of experts in various fields of administration, sports management, legal advisory and business management, is independent of the Sports Commission and has the autonomy to discharge the functions more fully as set out in its terms of reference.
Rugara and his team of professionals have been given until the end of the year to complete the mission and come up with a blueprint, widely expected to chart a new and refreshing chapter for local football.
The Sports Commission have maintained the committee is not assuming the roles of the suspended ZIFA board but FIFA president Gianni Infantino maintained that the appointment constitutes “third party interference.”
Mlotshwa yesterday said FIFA appear to have deliberately misinterpreted the nature of this committee.
“The ZIFA Restructuring Committee is not an interim board of ZIFA imposed by the SRC. That has been explained to FIFA before. An interim committee would have been appointed in terms of Section 39 of the SRC Act. Nothing of that nature was done.
“The restructuring committee is a committee of the SRC board. Its terms of reference are clear. None of those terms speak to the committee running the affairs of ZIFA.
“It is regrettable that FIFA thinks that the committee is running football in Zimbabwe or that its establishment constitutes third party interference.
“Whoever is generating reports for FIFA council and congress is not doing so in good faith. That person is misleading FIFA,” said Mlotshwa. The Sports Commission said Zimbabwe would use the time during the FIFA suspension to cleanse the game of all the vices.
“According to the ZIFA Restructuring Committee terms of reference, the principal role of the Restructuring Committee shall be to review and recommend reforms in the administration of football in Zimbabwe in the following areas: the ZIFA constitution, ZIFA executive, Junior Football Development, strategic plan, elections and forensic audit.
“To this end, the chairperson of the ZIFA Restructuring Committee – Mr Blessing Rugara – issued a press statement at the beginning of March detailing their progress to date.
“Pertinent to note is that the committee has been doing closed-door stakeholder consultations. The Committee is also in the process of establishing technology portals to facilitate fan participation and engagement.
“These portals will increase interactive access to a wider football audience who may not physically attend public hearings. Meeting engagements with ZIFA officials, female administrators and players are currently underway.
“The committee has engaged BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants to conduct a forensic audit of the ZIFA accounts. BDO Zimbabwe has commenced its audit in this regard.
“We are happy with the progress made by the committee to date and are confident that the committee will fully exercise its mandate,” added Mlotshwa. – Herald