A STINGING report by Parliament’s portfolio committee on youth, sport, arts and recreation on Zimbabwe’s ban from international football has left the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) isolated as consensus is growing against the continued suspension of Zifa leaders.
The committee, which tabled its report in Parliament last week, demanded the reinstatement of Zifa president Felton Kamambo in order for the country’s suspension by Fifa to be lifted.
Kamambo’s executive was suspended by the SRC in November last year and this led to the banning of the country from international football.
The committee, chaired by Chivi North legislator Mathias Tongofa conducted an inquiry into the state of football in the country and made recommendations which they believe will pave the way for the lifting of the ban.
It recommended the reinstatement of the Kamambo led board by October 31 2022.
It also demanded the lifting of the suspension on Zifa general secretary Joseph Mamutse as well as the disbandment of the Zifa restructuring committee.
Legislators also want the clipping of the SRC’s wings by government through the amendment of section 34 of the SRC Act Chapter 25:15.
Zimbabwe was suspended from international football by Fifa in February this year for third party interference in the running of the sport in the country following the SRC’s sanctions on the Zifa board.
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In April the Zifa council moved to revoke the mandate of Kamambo, Philemon Machana and Brighton Malandule as part of the Zifa board at an extra-ordinary general meeting and brought back Gift Banda as acting president.
The SRC then lifted the suspension on the Zifa board in June, but the move is not likely to be recognised by Fifa.
A football expert who preferred anonymity hailed the move by the parliamentary committee to make its own investigations and recommendations.
“I feel Parliament followed the proper procedure to make its own findings, its own observations and recommendations.
“They received information from all the relevant parties such as the Ministry of Youth Sport Arts and Recreation, the SRC and Zifa board before making those recommendations,” the expert said.
“What is critical is to note that Fifa owns football and the only way to have the country’s suspension lifted is to follow the conditions they set for the lifting of such.
“And the recommendations by the parliamentary committee resonate with those of Fifa.
“What this committee discovered is that the SRC was offside in its suspension of the Zifa board.
“It suspended Zifa because of lack of proper investment in grassroots football and at the same time suspended the Zifa general secretary for sending junior teams outside the country with approval from relevant authorities.
“Is it not grassroots football when junior teams are competing at the international stage?
“I understand that the EGM, which claimed to have ousted Kamambo and two other members was illegal as most of the members of the Zifa council had been suspended by Zifa.
“The SRC has to understand that Zifa has a constitution and they have also taken football matters to court which is unheard of.”
The SRC says it will remain steadfast in its bid to “clean-up” local football especially after Zifa referees’ committee secretary-general, Obert Zhoya was slapped with a five-year ban from all football activities by world football governing body, Fifa last month.
The sanctions came after he was found guilty of abusing his privileged position to abuse female referees and he was also fined 20,000 Swiss francs (US$20, 300).
The sports regulator felt vindicated as one of their charges for suspending the Zifa board arose from its alleged failure to decisively deal with allegations of abuse of female referees that surfaced a few years back.
However, a local football enthusiast who is also a lawyer made some interesting observations on the document floating in the public domain.
“This is a report that had an agenda. The agenda was to defend recalled members of the executive committee.
It is a poor defense, and those in the shadows who commissioned it wasted their time and money,” he said.
“There is not even a whisper of a condemnation of the rampant sexual abuse that had become imbedded within the referees committee chaired by a recalled member of the executive committee.
The country’s suspension from Fifa events has impacted negative on the players who have missed out on some top regional and international competition such as Cosafa and Afcon qualifiers.