Fans in bid to stop Zifa elections

THE Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association has launched a bid to stop the ongoing Zifa elections amid calls for board president Cuthbert Dube to resign.

Kevin Mapasure

Association president Eddie Chivero yesterday told reporters at a press conference they would put pressure on the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to ask Dube to step down from his post for allegedly looting public funds.

At the briefing, Chivero read out a petition which they would present to the SRC for the country’s supreme sports body to stop the Zifa elections over constitutional and fee irregularities.

The association also threatened to take the matter to the High Court if the elections were allowed to go ahead.

“As concerned football stakeholders representing many fans from all walks of life, it has come to our attention that the fabric of our game is being destroyed by the manner the supposed Zifa elections are conducted which seems shrouded in secrecy as if it is a deliberate ploy to disadvantage a certain constituency,” reads the petition.

“It is our view that those elections are being held under a cloud as there are a lot of uncertainties regarding the constitution and the fees.”

Chivero said they were aware the new Zifa constitution was not registered. But a letter from SRC director-general Charles Nhemachena to Mashingaidze shows the constitutional amendments were registered with the SRC.

Part of Nhemachena’s letter reads: “The Sports and Recreation Commission Board has considered your application and, after satisfying itself as to the suitability of the amendments, has directed me in my capacity as director-general to cause the amendments to be registered as provided for under Section 29(6) of the Sports and Recreation Commission Act Chapter 25:15.

“You are therefore advised that the amended Zifa constitution has now been registered and that the registration is with effect from your date of application (ie 18 November 2013).”

Chivero, who was flanked by the supporters’ group secretary-general Wellington Mupandare and information officer Paddington Japajapa also said they were concerned that the SRC was not taking any action despite noting that election fees were prohibitive.

Zifa presidential candidates are required to pay US$5 000 which was reduced from the initially proposed US$10 000.

“Those fees are designed to prohibit certain people from participating; it is only people like Dube who earn US$250 000 who can afford,” said Chivero.

“So the playing field is not level and if the SRC does not act, we will approach the courts …“If the elections go ahead, he will win.”

Zifa CEO Jonathan Mashingaidze yesterday said the supporters were doomed to fail in their bid since everything was above board.

Mashingaidze said the fees had been slashed at the SRC’s request and could not be slashed further.

“In 2010, we ran an election and right now we still have debts accrued from that election because the money charged could not sufficiently run an election,” said Mashingaidze.

“We cannot do that again and the fees structure is aimed at ensuring we are not left debt-ridden. These people (the association) have not done their homework and are embarrassing themselves; we see it as sour grapes as some of them were dismissed after failing as managers of junior teams.”

The association is baying for Dube’s blood after reports of his US$230 000 salary at medical aid service provider Psmas, where he was CEO.

“We are saying that public funds were looted and he should resign because a vote of no confidence has already been passed on him in other boards so he should not continue as the Zifa president.”

Since his election, Dube has been using his personal funds to finance broke Zifa’s activities as the association grapples with an adopted debt of US$4 million which has since doubled.
Dube has declared his interest in running for a second term as Zifa president and only Charlie Johns has publicly declared interest in challenging him.

But there have been whispers that Harare City Football Club chairperson Leslie Gwindi is also eyeing the post.

Yesterday Chivero was fighting in Gwindi’s corner, querying the timing of the release of judgments on charges against Gwindi as election dates edge closer.

Gwindi was charged and found guilty of bringing the game of football into disrepute after he publicly criticised sponsors and then national team coach Klaus Dieter Pagels.

The ruling was delivered this week after a hearing on December 20.  National board elections are set for March 29.