PREMIER Soccer League (PSL) clubs are not happy with Dynamos chairman Keni Mubaiwa after he appeared to encourage top-flight clubs to give in to Zifa’s demands to increase the number of top-tier clubs from 16 to 18.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Mubaiwa was controversially appointed as the interim chairman of the PSL by Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa following the suspension of Peter Dube for alleged misconduct, as the relegation-promotion dispute between the motherbody and the elite league took an ugly turn.
Chiyangwa, who has also gone on to suspend CAPS United board chairman Lewis Uriri, and Highlanders chief executive Ndumiso Gumede, immediately ordered Mubaiwa to initiate disciplinary proceedings against PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele.
Ndebele — one of the finest football administrators in the country — is accused of fuelling division between the top-flight league and the national association, but he has since dismissed the allegations.
And while fellow top-flight clubs expected him to snub the offer, Mubaiwa, who has previously contested and lost elections for the same post against Twine Phiri and Dube, is seemingly keen on taking up the post.
In fact, he was reportedly planning a meeting of all PSL clubs yesterday to map a way forward, but it was aborted after lawyers representing the clubs queried the Dynamos boss’ appointment, saying it was not Zifa’s jurisdiction to make such appointments at the PSL.
The PSL’s legal representatives argued they wanted the fate of Dube to be finalised before any appointment was made, before reminding the football governing body that their powers only lay in appointment of an electoral college and not office bearers of affiliates.
Several PSL club officials who spoke to Standardsport on condition of anonymity said they were disappointed by Mubaiwa’s decision to put his personal ambitions ahead of the interests of the clubs.
“He has contested in two elections to become PSL chairman and lost, so it’s not surprising that he would jump to take up the offer from Zifa, even though it’s clearly not above board. Nevertheless, we thought he would put the interests of clubs as a whole ahead of his personal ambitions and we are very disappointed,” one of the members of the PSL board of governors said.
Mubaiwa was also quoted in one of the local publications on Friday saying he enjoyed “a good relationship with Zifa, in particular their president Dr Philip Chiyangwa”.
The DeMbare official also applauded Zifa “for taking the first sacrifice of agreeing that only two teams are relegated”, adding that “the challenge was now on PSL to sacrifice something”.
The outspoken Mubaiwa yesterday defended his stance on the ongoing impassé between top-flight clubs and Zifa, saying he was not mandated to side with PSL clubs.
“I don’t work for PSL. My only involvement there is as a member of the PSL board of governors representing the interests of Dynamos Football Club,” Mubaiwa said.
“I’m allowed to have my own opinion and I may not agree to a certain position because that’s what everyone has agreed. Yes, they may feel that I’m siding with Chiyangwa, but I’m my own man and people should accept that we cannot agree on everything.”
Mubaiwa’s attempts to influence clubs to give in to Zifa’s demands have not gone well with representatives of the other top-flight teams, who have already approached the Court of Arbitration for Sports to handle their impassé with the local football governing body.
Zifa, which has refused to accept the application, last week reaffirmed its position to have four teams from the regional Division One leagues getting automatic promotion into the PSL, with two teams from the top-flight dropping to the second-tier leagues in an arrangement where the elite league will be expanded from 16 to 18 teams.
The motherbody’s position is against a resolution made last year that only two teams would be promoted from the regions following a play-off involving the regional champions, while the bottom two in the PSL would be demoted.
Zifa’s militant stance — which is also against the PSL constitution which provides for 16 teams — has left the top-flight league’s sponsorship deal with Delta Beverages in jeopardy, after their representative said they were extremely worried with the state of affairs in the local game.