BY MICHAEL KARIATI FOR long, the constitution of the Zimbabwe Football Association has been a source of oppression to one or the other of the arms that make up Zimbabwean football.
Countless Zifa leaderships have come on board and the first thing they did was to make changes to the constitution to guarantee their long stay in office.
The changes, which were made by these successive Zifa leaders are the ones which are causing the too many problems that Zimbabwean football is facing today.
One of the changes was the requirement from Zifa election candidates of five-years experience in football administration, a requirement that has been exploited if not abused due to its lack of clarity.
This has seen people who have never been in football administration claiming positions at national level because they had for the period in question been associated with one club or another – even as sponsors of a boozers team.
Right now, nobody really knows whether a relook at the existing constitution will bring about the required results without greedy taking a hold and more problems resurfacing.
It is not a secret that some of the past changes like the forced removal from the Zifa assembly of the Zimbabwe Junior Football Association and the Zimbabwe Soccer Coaches Association were done on vendetta and meant to silence voices unhappy with the Zifa leadership then ?
Surely, how can a country with serious football ambitions operate without listening to the voice of its own coaches or without representation of junior football at national football federation level ?
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Questions are also being raised as to why chairmen of the regions were removed from the Zifa executive as they represented lower division football at national level as is the case with the Premier Soccer League and the Zimbabwe Women Soccer League in the Zifa executive.
The chairmen of the regions were at some time part of the Zifa executive until the time that former northern region chairman Francis Zimunya Nyamutsamba and his southern region counterpart, Leonard Nkala, fell out with the majority of the then Rafik Khan led Zifa executive.
Surely, the chairmen of the Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern Region should automatically — upon election —-assume Zifa executive member status as they represent an important constituency in Zimbabwean football.
Although the general belief is that a region means Division One football, the reality is that it is bigger than that as it covers all forms of lower division football, down to Division Four in its area of coverage.
So, the co-option of Northern Region chairman, Martin Kweza, into the Zifa executive should be the starting point towards making right, the wrong things which were done in the past.
There is no need for Kweza to relinquish his position in the northern region now that he has been co-opted into the Zifa executive because his position is to represent the interest of lower division football at Zifa executive level.
The only mistake that has been made is to ignore and not to also co-opt into the Zifa executive, the chairmen of the Central, Eastern, and Southern Regions, who at the moment, feel frozen out in the new set up.
Fine, there could be issues with Stanley Chapeta from the Central Region but wasn’t it appropriate to also co-opt Davison Muchena from the Eastern Region and Andrew Tapera from the Southern Region to give the Zifa executive, a national outlook?
Critics argue that holding two positions is greediness but these are part time duties and over the years the PSL and women football leaders have had that dual assignment without running down their own leagues.
With elections unlikely to come any time soon, wasn’t the input of the regional chairmen of more weight than co-opting Alois Masepe and Kenneth Mhlope who do not represent any constituency in Zimbabwean football but individual clubs ?
Although there are no questions over the co-option of Kweza, there are others who feel Masepe is being rewarded for the role he played in Gift Banda’s ascendancy to Zifa president while Mhlope’ closeness to the acting Zifa president has also not gone without notice.
As Zimbabwe goes through another phase in its football, it is these mistakes and the question marks that go with them, that pose a danger to football’s smooth future.
The truth is that the tenure of most of the elected football leaders has expired but for now, elections for new football leaders can wait until the constitution is reviewed up to the satisfaction of all.
So, in the meantime, those in office can enjoy their time but knowing pretty well that they could be removed – by the new constitution or by the people they represent – when election time finally comes.
Football analyst Admire Muhimeke is of the opinion that the Zifa constitution is not foolproof and contains a lot of errors and loopholes and jokingly suggests that it be rewritten all over again.
“The constitution is the rule book but the Zifa constitution leaves a lot of room for manipulation. I think we need to look at it again from page one up to the last page. The solution would be to come up with a new one to avoid a repeat of the problems football has been through,” comments Muhimeke, who is also a librarian.
Surely, the Zifa constitution should be foolproof and should accommodate all stakeholders and in the process leaving a guarantee that the best people will be elected into influential positions in the end.
In all honest, it does not make sense to give a voice to non-active bodies like the Beach Football Association of Zimbabwe when the likes of the Zimbabwe Soccer Coaches Association, the Zimbabwe Junior Football Association, the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe, and the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association do not have a voice in the Zifa assembly.
On top of that, there are requirements in the constitution for aspiring Zifa election candidates that need to be clearly spelt out and others added to make sure that the best candidates contest for football leadership positions.
Surely, things have not been well at Zifa since 2014 when Cuthbert Dube was re-elected Zifa president and Zimbabwean football needs a new and refreshing path than that of the past eight years.
However, there is no need to rush things as mistakes at the beginning of the whole process could backfire in future —Elections can wait for now to give way – first — for a thorough constitutional re-look.
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