'We will not be intimidated'

HARARE - The Sports and Recreation Commission say they will not back down in their bid to bring sanity to Zimbabwe’s most popular sport which is getting ugly under the leadership of controversial businessmen Philip Chiyangwa.

This comes after Chiyangwa on Sunday sent an SOS to Fifa crying foul over alleged government interference after the country’s sport governing body ordered Zifa elections beheld by March 29, in line with the Zifa constitution registered with them.

In the scathing letter copied to Fifa, Chiyangwa accused the SRC of meddling in the affairs of the country’s supreme football governing body.

He further claimed that his term of office expires in 2020 declaring “presently there is no vacancy or need for the election as the president’s four-year term is at midpoint.”

On the other hand, a cross section of football stakeholders and the SRC insist that Chiyangwa’s tenure of office expires by March 29 as he is currently serving the Cuthbert Dube-led executive’s term which was prematurely ended through a vote of no confidence in 2015.

The election crisis has now stepped up a notch after SRC yesterday said it was not apologetic for stepping in “to restore order” following Zifa’s failure to organise elections for its structures and the presidency.

“We are aware of his (Chiyangwa) intimidation tactics,” SRC acting director-general Joseph Muchechetere told the Daily News yesterday.

“To summarise our response to Zifa and its publics, Zifa is advised to respect its constitution. Failure of which, SRC will intervene in line with its mandate. SRC is fully aware of its mandate and would approach Fifa at the appropriate time to put forward its position.”

Muchechetere stood by his earlier statement made last week on Friday stating the SRC was in the process of engaging “the leadership of Zifa to offer them advice on how to properly handle the electoral process for all Zifa structures in line with the Zifa constitution.”

The SRC statement which did not go down well with Chiyangwa read:  “We wish to make it clear to Zifa or any other sport and recreation organisation that we expect them to operate within the confines of their respective constitutions, provisions of the SRC Act, which is the prevailing National Law on the organisation and administration of sport in Zimbabwe.

“Thirdly, any deviation from the above requirements will be unacceptable and will not hesitate to step in and restore order. May you be guided accordingly.”

Zifa had been expected to have long held their 2017 Annual General Meeting which would have ratified an electoral committee to oversee the elections.

The electoral committee should be set up at least six months before an elective congress. 

However, that election road map is yet to be put in place, prompting the sports supreme governing body to step in.

Local football stakeholders have also been circling around the troubled Zifa leadership insisting they will challenge the executive’s legitimacy in court if Zifa elections fail to take place by March 29 this year.

As recourse to the current crisis, football stakeholders have called on Fifa or the SRC to appoint a normalisation committee or transitional authority which leaves the running of Zifa in the hands of the secretariat for a limited period of time whilst the preparations and conduct of elections is underway.

At a recent media briefing Zifa board member for finance Philemon Machana had said Zifa was not compelled to hold elections in March, but would hold the polls inside 2018.

He insisted that what is key is that the elections are held in the year on which the cycle falls with the actual dates, “being a mere issue of semantics’’.

However, in an about turn on Sunday, Chiyangwa came out guns blazing insisting there will be no elections for the Zifa presidency this year. Elections that are due are for area zones, regions and provinces, Chiyangwa said.

“There is no provision whatsoever for election of a Zifa president as a replacement for the remaining term mandate of a previous president. Article 32.9 of the Zifa constitution expressly excludes the position of the president from a replacement arrangement.

“The wording of article 32.2 is distinctly different from article 38.5.

“The office of an elected Zifa president is sui generis. It is uniquely important institutions which are strongly protected by the Zifa constitution.

“Therefore, there is no such thing as an election for the Zifa president in 2018 as the current president was elected purely in terms of clause 38.1 with no other conditions or limits set by the electoral committee, Fifa, Caf or Cosafa,” added Chiyangwa

If there was government interference, Chiyangwa said Zifa was obliged to immediately inform Fifa and Caf of any interference in the electoral process.

“Unless this code states otherwise, the elected internal bodies of Zifa shall continue to exercise their functions until the completion of the electoral process.

“In terms of clause 2.2 (b) above, Zifa is under strict obligation to report to Fifa, Caf, and Cosafa on the gross and illegal interference by government through Muchechetere. By copy of this letter Fifa, Caf, and Cosafa are notified of the interference,” Chiyangwa said.

The Harare business tycoon said SRC chairperson Edward Siwela and Muchechetere were culpable in the rot which sat at Zifa before he was elected into office.

“While the Zifa executive committee is fully focused on achieving a turnaround Messrs Muchechetere and Siwela seem to have sworn themselves to besmirch the ... work of the executive committee.

“…Siwela and Muchechetere are strongly cautioned to cease forthwith interfering with matters within the exclusive authority of Zifa.

“The two gentlemen do not hold any elected football office and must not bring sanctions on the whole nation due to their insatiable craving for control and abuse of office.

“Any decision they purport to make on behalf of the SRC must be formally addressed to the Zifa secretariat and duly accompanied with the relevant resolutions to enable Zifa to exercise its powers of appeal in terms of section 32 of the SRC Act,” he added.


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