Former Zifa chairman Leo Mugabe has said that the fate of current Zifa president Cuthbert Dube lies in the hands of Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs.
In an interview with IndependentSport yesterday, Mugabe weighed in on the current debate over whether the Dube-led board should be allowed to see its term of office through.
Deputy Sports minister Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga has insisted government will press ahead with plans to clean up the mess at Zifa regardless of the threat of Fifa sanctions.
Mugabe said while government had raised deep concern about the running of the most popular sport in the country it was about all it could do, adding that it is the stakeholders who have the mandate to take concrete action.
He argued that the silence by key affiliates such as the topflight league either signifies satisfaction with the status quo or clubs do not know how much power they have.
“If PSL clubs in particular are not happy, then their silence is surprising,” he said. “I would assume their silence means all is well for them, but if they are unhappy with the national football leadership they can get rid of them in no time. They (clubs) are the ones who have all the power to push out Cuthbert Dube. They cannot wait for government to act; this is not government business. The government has raised concern so now football must act.”
Mugabe himself fell victim to a vote of no confidence from his board in 2002 after serving the association as board chairman for almost a decade.
Dube has maintained that he has done nothing wrong and has served football well with the resumption of the Fifa Goal project and the return to action of junior and women’s national teams as some of his key result areas.
He wants to see through his second term of office and aims to complete projects he started in his first term.
Dube however stands accused by those in the opposing corner of failing to uplift the game from its myriad problems which include spiralling debt as well ostracising other board members from running the association in a two-man rule with chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze.
Lack of government support forms part of Dube’s defence to some of the accusations, but Mugabe said that cannot be an excuse. “Nobody has ever secured government assistance; it has always been like that.
We never got any government support but we still fulfilled our obligations. So Dube cannot use it as an excuse for the Zifa debt which has gone out of control. There are fundamental questions that have to be asked. Why did they borrow? How did they expect to pay back? I am sure they had a plan but the question is, what has happened to that plan? How big was the debt when they came in and why has it continued to grow? When we left there was no debt.”
Mugabe said clubs have suffered the consequences of the national team’s poor performance the most as it has affected the business side of football. The Warriors sunk to a new low last year when they were knocked out of the 2015 Afcon tournament in the preliminary round of the qualifying stage by lightweights Tanzania.
“The national team has failed to perform; the results have been very bad. It is the clubs that suffer the most because they can’t sell their players outside. The national team is key to the smooth running of club business. So if the clubs are suffering they can withdraw their players from all national teams until the leadership is changed. They have that leverage. Zifa cannot do without the PSL, they are the cream.”
However, PSL clubs may decide to distance themselves from the raging saga for fear of losing their cherished sponsors who deem controversy as bringing the game into disrepute.