Gumede cries foul over his Zifa expulsion

HARARE - Highlanders chief executive Ndumiso Gumede says while Zifa are within their rights to expel him, it is however, not fair since some of the concerns he raised actually helped shape the local game.

Gumede was expelled by Zifa for allegedly rebelling against president Philip Chiyangwa’s executive committee.

The veteran football administrator played an important role shortly after Chiyangwa tried to liquidate Zifa and replace it with the now-defunct National Football Association of Zimbabwe (Nafaz).

Gumede wrote a letter to Fifa detailing Zifa’s standoff with creditors, owed over $6 million, which culminated in the Zurich-based body sending their development officer for southern Africa Ashford Mamelodi to Harare for a fact-finding mission.

“I saw it on social media that I have been expelled but I have not received any official communication yet,” Gumede told the Daily News.

“It is their prerogative to do so because they are our football leaders. But to crucify me because of the letter I wrote to Fifa from my point of view, I don’t think it’s right because in any case it actually helped our football move forward.

“There was no way we were going to keep quiet, especially after what the Zifa president said before the parliamentarians. Remember it was during that time when they wanted to change Zifa to Nafaz.

“And Chiyangwa told the Parliamentarians that the creditors will not be able to recover their dues.

“That was irresponsible and there was need for dialogue. My letter was responded to by Fifa which saw the dispatching of Mamelodi here.

“As a result of that letter, things got back to normal and creditors were engaged, even things in women’s football also returned back to normalcy. So, I really don’t know why I am being treated like this.”

Gumede said Bosso are already consulting their lawyers to see how they can proceed following Zifa’s decision to also suspend their chairperson, Peter Dube.

“I’m employed at Highlanders and my bosses are seeking legal opinion about the issue,” he said.

The former Zifa vice-president also reminded the Chiyangwa-led executive that they should be careful on how they do their business as they risk driving away sponsors from the game that is desperate to attract corporate partners.

“We had the hope that football had found the messiah but we now see it that there is nothing and regrettably sponsors could move away because of this,” Gumede said.  

“Who wants his brand to be associated with mediocrity? It’s going to be even harder for sponsors to come on board if things continue like this. I think we are cutting our own feet and unless we adopt a pragmatic way, our football will soon become history.”

This latest development is likely to jeopardise talks between the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and their title sponsors Delta Beverages since their current deal comes to an end this year.

Gumede also gave his opinion on the current relegation standoff between Zifa and the PSL.

With only two games to go before the season ends, Zifa councillors at last month’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) passed a shocking resolution to relegate four teams at the end of this season instead of two.

At a 2015 AGM, the same Zifa councillors had voted to relegate only two teams in order for the league to conform to Fifa statutes.

Winners from the country’s four regions — Northern, Southern, Eastern and Central — were supposed to battle it out in play-offs with the top two teams getting promotion to the PSL, but all could now change following that unpopular resolution earlier this month. 

“In my personal view, a resolution was passed last year that two teams will be demoted at the end of the season,” Gumede said.

“That resolution was known by everybody and you can’t change that with only two games to go before the season ends. They should stick to what they have agreed. This will cause problems if it is not handled carefully.”

In his statement announcing the decisions, Chiyangwa said: “Gumede has to immediately relinquish all associations with Zifa and its members as a result of his gross violations of the Zifa constitution and undermining a constitutionally-elected leadership.

“Gumede wrote a letter to the world football governing body, Fifa, peddling falsehoods about a legitimate football leadership; seeking to dissolve a constitutionally-elected executive committee.”

On Dube’s suspension, Chiyangwa alleges the Highlanders chairperson brought the game into disrepute with his conduct at the now infamous AGM last month.

“...Dube interrupted formal proceedings during a Zifa congress and he further attempted to incite chaos by standing up and addressing congress delegates without seeking requisite permission from the chair of the congress,” he said.

“Dube also incited PSL clubs’ representatives to denounce lawfully made resolutions. Dube violated Zifa regulations by failing to restrain himself during the PSL promotion/relegation conundrum and he also attended the meeting as a representative of Highlanders Football Club while he is a Zifa executive committee member.”

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