Women's football in crisis

HARARE - Stakeholders in women’s football say they are still not sure who will be representing their interests and whether the representatives will be able to cast their votes in the Zifa board elections scheduled for next Saturday.

The uncertainty is a result of the protracted wrangling among Zimbabwe Women Football (ZWF) national executive members.  Since April this year, the five national executive members of ZWF have split into two camps.

One group compromises chairperson Miriam Sibanda and two board members, Ben Mamoche and Edwin Magosvongwe.

The other group, which has the support of Zifa CEO, Jonathan Mashingaidze has Elizabeth Langa as acting chairperson and Cecilia Gambe as her deputy.

“We don’t know who is going to be voting on behalf of women football.  And we have no idea how they will decide who to vote for.  Our understanding of the Zifa Constitution is that four members drawn from the national executive minus the chairperson vote.

“But, right now we do not know whether we have an executive or not. 

“The leaders we voted for are said to be ‘suspended’ but they have not been brought before a Disciplinary Hearing since April. The interim committee has been there for over 90 days,” said Wilbert Rambanapasi the ZWF Northern Region chairperson.

Rambanapasi said the interim Committee had co-opted a member, Otilia Ngirande who is not from the regional structures to vote.

He said as a region, they had tried to have the anomaly addressed by writing to the Zifa Electoral Committee.

The electoral committee had instead referred them to Mashingaidze who in turn referred them to the ZWF Assembly.

“So up to now, we don’t know who will vote if at all women will participate in the elections,” he said.

Asked, to comment, Sibanda said she was also in the dark as to ZWF’s participation in the December 5 polls.

Sibanda said she together with her two “suspended” board members were waiting to hear from Fifa regarding their status.

“We thought that when Fifa said all suspensions were lifted we were also included.  But Zifa chief executive Mashingaidze has maintained that we remain suspended.  We are therefore, waiting for Fifa to tell us the correct position,” she said.

The Fifa Development Officer for Eastern and southern Africa, Ashford Mamelodi was in Zimbabwe last week and part of his programme was to meet with the women football representatives to try and resolve the protracted wrangle.

The meeting did not take place as Sibanda and her colleagues were not advised of the meeting by Mashingaidze.

Sibanda and Langa were then asked to submit reports narrating the cause of the friction and the consequences.

Meanwhile, the Langa executive had called for an extraordinary general meeting today.  According to an undated notice sent out by the Zifa women’s desk coordinator, Theresa Maguraushe, the main agenda item of the meeting was to report back to the ministry of Sport.

However, the meeting was called off late on Thursday via a Whatsapp message sent out by Maguraushe that said: “Kindly be advised that Extraordinary General Meeting scheduled for Saturday 28 November 2015 has been cancelled. You will be advised of the new set date at the earliest possible time. We regret the inconveniences caused.”

A member of the ZWF Assembly who declined to be named said the fighting within women football was a sad and negative development.

“The whole year, this issue of suspensions has been there forcing some of us to play under difficult conditions.

“In the Super League, we are using retired referees because Zifa ordered referees not to officiate at our games. Our elected leaders have false charges laid against them.  It’s not good for the game at all.

“We hope the new Zifa President will deal with the issue of women football quickly once they get in because we need to focus on going to Rio.

“All we can do now is pray that all this comes to an end,” she said.

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