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We want it free and fair

IndependentSport ViewItai Dzamara

I RETURNED last Sunday after a week away from the madding crowd of Harare to find the city abuzz with debate over the election of Leslie Gwindi

as chairman of the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

I managed to find my way to the National Sports Stadium to watch premiership minnows Kwekwe Cables holding log-leaders Caps United with a spirited performance.

The return of Gwindi to the beautiful game was inevitably the main topic.

There he was, Gwindi, looking affable and seated in the VIP enclosure at the National Sports Stadium. He had bounced back – the same way he had re-emerged in soccer administration – to the stadium after a long absence.

I try as much as possible to attend PSL matches in Harare, including a few in other towns and cities, and can confirm that Gwindi has for the past three years been finding other things of interest than visiting our dilapidated stadiums to watch the falling standards of play.

A staunch follower of this column noticed me at the stadium and remarked that he had been shocked last Friday upon seeing last week’s heading, Lonely winter nights for women. He said his initial fear was that the column had been re-branded to cover some entertainment or movie staff.

Many thanks to colleague Darlington Majonga for departing from my usual serious tone and providing a light-hearted approach to the column last week.

And talking of serious matters, that is exactly what the debate over Gwindi’s victory proved to be.

“This habit of recycling people as if Zimbabwe lacks human resources will lead us to nowhere,” charged one soccer fan in the VIP arena at the stadium.

Other fans in the enclosure concluded that a new set of brains was needed for the PSL chair rather than Gwindi who had his time and has in his cabinet failures and successes in soccer administration.

Also in the debate was the freeness and fairness, or lack of both, at the PSL elections held last Saturady. A number of theories such as the north and south balance, or the participation at the polls of former Dynamos interim chairman Ignatius Pamire found their way into the debate.

And of course, what I deemed to be the most disgraceful part of all this usual nonsense that I have become used to in local soccer was the suspicious presence of the Harare Town House iron lady Sekesai Makwavarara in Kwekwe.

Some people expressed their suspicion over the presence of Makwavarara and believed there was basis to suspect some political force behind Gwindi’s victory.

I should state that it was regrettable that Makwavarara made herself present in Kwekwe, for whatever reason.

The lady must be advised to concentrate on ensuring that we have enough clean drinking water in the capital all the time – as long as she deems herself fit to run the city. She has already made a name for herself as an opposition turncoat clinging to office against popular will. We do not need her name on the sports pages.

In a typical twist of events – one may say which is characteristic of local soccer – on Wednesday the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) nullified the results of the PSL elections. A re-run has been ordered for next weekend.

May it be emphasised that all elements that could have deliberately or otherwise caused the “unprocedural holding of elections” last week have to be excluded from the process next week.

By this it means people such as Makwavarara must be urged to simply stay away from matters that don’t concern them. If at all the former acting mayor – I am not sure what she is now – has some concern over soccer, it is purely very personal and could be confined to watching matches on television in the comfort of her mayoral mansion.

By virtue of being the football controlling body, Zifa must before the day of the PSL elections clearly define the electoral framework. There must not be any controversy whatsoever on the day of polling regarding eligible voters like was the case with former Dynamos interim chairman Pamire last week.

Please Pamire, stand by your earlier statement that you felt you had given your best to Dynamos and local soccer by passing on the baton to others. Just stay away sir to avoid more controversy.

Local soccer cannot afford even a week of squabbling at the expense of progress. Therefore this PSL leadership issue must be resolved once and for all next week.

The debate on recycling administrators or the south-north balance must be dismissed. I believe anyone who has entered the polls, be it Gwindi, Tendai Madzorera or Joseph Goromonzi, must be given his fair chance by the electorate and the winner will automatically emerge.

If it’s Gwindi, who indeed has had some flirtation in soccer leadership before, or a virtual novice – if ever there is one – to win the elections freely and fairly so be it. We will welcome the new leader and start right away working with him for the good of the game.

The top-flight league is languishing in the intensive care unit together with its many cousins and nieces on the sporting arena due to lack of enough sponsorship.

Restoration of confidence and sanity within the league is the next leader’s primary task. Sponsors will only come after diligent efforts at rooting out indiscipline, violence, boardroom squabbles and cheating.

The new leadership must start right away working with the usually slow-to-react Sports and Recreation Commission in the search for a solution to the Dynamos chaos. There is need for bold decisions, which should be implemented with authority.

The sad demise of Sporting Lions epitomises the need by the PSL to establish survival means for teams in the league. And this cannot be achieved through ill-advised and arrogant decisions like the one taken by the Caps United leadership last week.

I was disheartened to meet some Caps fans leaving the National Sports Stadium last Sunday after failing to raise the $10 000 entry fee suddenly decided upon by the team’s leadership.

I hope the performance by Kwekwe Cables would be enough to remind the guys at Caps that it is too early before the championship is decided and dissuade them from being arrogant towards their fans and opponents.

Ways of encouraging fans to go and watch matches that include a professional approach and good results must be adopted.

It is the behaviour of some club officials such as was shown two months ago when a serious clash between Highlanders and Amazulu led to the latter boycotting a match due to security fears that the PSL leadership must confront right away.

We have already started preparing a mark schedule to gauge the performance of the new management committee that will be elected next week – hopefully in a free and fair poll.

There is no time to waste on the Makwavararas and Pamires of this world! –

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