Zifa president Cuthbert Dube emerged from Saturday’s joint annual general meeting (AGM) and extraordinary general meeting (EGM) defiant, claiming he is the Messiah of Zimbabwean football despite falling out of favour with the majority of his once-trusted councillors.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
The Zifa boss once more escaped the axe through a technicality as the bulk of assembly members pushed to revoke his mandate but were stopped as that action was not on the meeting’s agenda.
But his demise is almost certain to be October 3 after a staggering 43 of the 51 councillors who attended the volatile meeting voted for an EGM whose main agenda is to ouster him.
The councillors had misinterpreted item nine of yesterday’s agenda which read, “To suspend or expel members” as enough to kick out Dube, but the Zifa constitution states that axing the president should be spelt specifically for him or his board.
In the constitution, Dube is not stated as a Zifa member.
Problems dogging Zimbabwean football continue to escalate with the biggest one being the historical expulsion from the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers due to a $67 000 debt owed to former Warriors coach Jose Claudinei Georgini (Valinhos).
Dube angered the councillors in the tense meeting when he admitted that the Premier Soccer League paid a $50 000 debt to Zifa that was meant to service the Valinhos debt but he diverted it to settle money owed to a local hotel.
“There was a very pressing debt I had to settle. Remember I had forked out $120 000 from my own pocket to pay Pandhari Lodge for the Warriors’ accommodation. I did it for my country. They were after my properties but I am now the sacrificial lamb. I have now learnt my lesson,” he said.
Since assuming office in 2010 and now in his second term as Zifa president, Zimbabwean football has been sinking deeper and deeper into crisis and controversy.
Mainly due to incessant fighting at Zifa, the corporate world has deserted the association, leaving it in serious financial quagmire.
This has seen national teams failing to fulfill away matches as well as preparing adequately for assignments.
Zifa is not even certain if they will be able to send the Young Warriors to South Africa for next weekend’s African Under-23 Championship, final round, second leg.
The exclusion from the World Cup flies as a huge embarrassment in the face of African Union chairman, President Robert Mugabe, whose country is the only one not bidding for the quadrennial global football tournament.
But Dube insisted that he is the best ever leader of Zimbabwean football and will leave a legacy in the local game. Despite the majority of assembly members pushing for him to go, he said he will survive the October 3 axe.
“I am 99,23% confident of surviving and I am not considering stepping down because I know I will achieve my legacy. These buildings [Zifa Village] are part of my legacy.
“I will proudly walk and introduce myself as the Zifa president. I will walk taller than I am. Right now I am walking with my head high. If I was not around, there would be no football to talk about in this country,” he said.
He however said if he is shown the exit door, he would not resist leaving Zifa.
“I have no problem with the councillors forcing me out. Why not step down? They elected me and have the right to vote me out,” he said.
At one point during yesterday’s meeting, the Zifa board was excused from the meeting to allow a vote for the next EGM.
Dube appeared uncomfortable and his chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze unleashed police details on the journalists covering the event while also barring photojournalists from taking pictures of them as they milled outside the Zifa Village conference room.
Riot police had initially been hired to disperse a group of supporters who were protesting, demanding Dube to step down.
Fifa Southern and Eastern Development Officer Ashford Mamelodi who was an observer at the meeting appeared to be backing Dube, claiming that the Zifa boss was flowing well despite sailing in harsh waters.
“I am extremely surprised by Zifa’s ability to survive under such circumstances. They are doing extremely well. They are amazing,” Mamelodi said.
“It is better that Zimbabwe are not taking part in the World Cup qualifiers because they might have failed to fulfill the fixtures. It is better to participate in Chan and Afcon where you even know there are good chances of you doing better,” he said.
Meanwhile, the assembly yesterday resolved that two teams be relegated from the PSL starting next season while promotion from the four regions would be determined in the form of playoffs.