BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE suspended Zifa board has accused Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) boss Gerald Mlotshwa of plunging local football into disarray in order to settle personal scores.
Fifa on February 24 suspended Zimbabwe from international football after warning the SRC to stop interfering in the running of Zifa for nearly three months.
The SRC ignored the warnings as it pursued the Zifa board led by Felton Kamambo until the ban, which is set to paralyse local football and jeopardise careers of footballers and match officials.
It accused the Zifa board of corruption and ignoring sexual harassment complaints by female referees, among a litany of allegations
But a dossier produced by the suspended board dated January 24, 2022 titled The Untold Story obtained by this publication, says the rift between the SRC and Zifa has been brewing for some time.
Zifa accuses Mlotshwa of having an axe to grind with Zifa board member finance Philemon Machana after the two fell out while working for an unnamed financial institution.
SRC board member Nigel Munyati is also accused of fighting Zifa after its council voted against him in 2013 in his bid to land the country’s football governing body’s presidency. He lost to Cuthbert Dube.
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The allegations against Mlotshwa and Munyati are contained in the explosive dossier signed by Kamambo on behalf of the Zifa executive committee.
The current Zifa executive, which was ushered into office in December 2018 was suspended by the Mlotshwa led committee in December, 2021 for alleged incompetence. Fifa has said the Kamambo led board must be reinstated, but the SRC has dug in and insisted that they remain suspended.
Kamambo said this was not surprising as he accused Mlotshwa and Munyati of fighting a personal fight after crossing paths with some Zifa members years ago.
“Mr Mlothswa worked for the same financial services institution in 2002 up to 2006, with the current Zifa board member finance,” he wrote in the dossier.
“During the time Mr Mlothswa, who was company secretary was reported to police by the shareholders and owners of the institution after he allegedly sought to criminally take over one of the subsidiaries of the group where the current board member finance was the accountant.
“The current board member finance of Zifa being the accountant and, therefore, custodian of all transactions and books of accounts together with his managing director were called in to give evidence on any transactions Mr Mlothswa carried out to and for his benefit after illegally taking over the company.
“Mr Mlothswa was arrested and spent about two weeks in remand prison.”
He added: “It may be that Mr Mlotshwa has not forgiven the current Zifa board member of finance, who was a key state witness.
“The entire Zifa board may be suffering for someone who has an axe to grind with an innocent state witness, who was called to give information on what had been done by Mr Mlothswa….
“The minister (Kirsty Coventry) was informed of this in September 2021 by Zifa in the presence of Mr Mlothswa, who could not deny the history except dismissing the revenge agenda.”
Turning to Munyati, Kamambo accused him of having a personal vendetta against the entire Zifa council after he lost the presidency in the 2013 polls..
“It was during his time in the board when debt skyrocketed from the US$600 000 left by one (Wellington) Nyatanga to almost US$8 million.
“It was during this time where the then Zifa president was forced to lend,” Kamambo wrote.
Munyati is a former Zifa board member having served his term from 2009 to 2013.
“The then Zifa council obviously found Mr Munyati unsuitable having presided over and failed to raise any meaningful resources in his previous posting.
“It would appear the same Mr Munyati has not forgiven the football community for rejecting him, even if their decision was well thought out,” Kamambo wrote.
“It is, therefore, not surprising when Mr Munyati in the press conference of 16 November indicated they will soon go for the Zifa council accusing them of taking bribes.”
While the obtaining situation has literally split opinion in the football fraternity Zifa continues to plead its innocence.
The Zifa board members accused the SRC of seeking to change the leadership at the local football governing body ahead of the 2022 elections.
“It would appear that all these charges and allegations are a mere smoke screen and abuse by the SRC to achieve their desire to change guard especially as we approach the 2022 Zifa elective congress,” says the 25 page document.
“The fear that most current board members and Zifa councillors may come back is not sitting well with the SRC so this is a more preemptive strike than a football decision.
“Several wrong narratives have been coined to paint an image of a board fighting against government, stakeholders and everything yet in reality all we have done if packaged objectively would have put our country in a very good light.
“That we qualified to Afcon where the likes of South Africa , Zambia, Angola et al failed to go in our circumstances must be neutral and objective referees that have ticked us among the best.
“Zifa remains a membership driven organisation and SRC should not be allowed to interfere with its operations.
“We stand ready to clarify or furnish government or any shareholder with any additional information that may so be required to enable Fifa to come up with an informed, fair and objective position.
“We remain ready to appear with or without SRC before any government set tribunal where both parties must account and give evidence of their claim.”