By Petros Kausiyo
Nearly four months after the explosion of what was supposed to be the move that would trigger a leadership crisis at ZIFA, the Sandton Project appears to have sensationally collapsed with the resignation of Felton Kamambo and Piraishe Mabhena having turned into a damp squib.
Kamambo and Mabhena quit their posts on the ZIFA Board in March claiming their leadership’s mandate to administer the game in this country had expired on the 28th of the same month and the duo demanding their other colleagues follow suit and step down.
Instead, the other three principal figures, ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa, his deputy Omega Sibanda and finance director Philemon Machana chose defiance and remained in office and have continued to run the show, albeit, with the full backing of the domestic football family and FIFA.
While the ZIFA board has remained intact, it is the pair of Kamambo and Mabhena, who were linked to the Sandton Project, who have literally disappeared from the football radar at a time when the Association’s election season is now in full swing with the nominations having closed for some of the affiliate bodies.
After the completion of the verification of candidates by the Electoral Committee, elections for the Premier Soccer League, Women’s League, Futsal and Beach Soccer are now set for the weekend while Area Zones will hold theirs on July 21-22.
Although, in the case of the PSL and the Area Zones, some candidates have been nominated unopposed the elective meetings would still have to be held in line with the constitutional and democratic provisions.
At the time of the resignations, the ZIFA leaders were also compiling a report dubbed “The Sandton Project” after a number of local football leaders met in Sandton, Johannesburg, where they hatched a plan to paralyse operations at the association to trigger elections, as quickly as possible, where they hoped to install a new leadership.
Nearly four months after the duo quit, the football family has marched on and ignored those resignations as if nothing happened at all.
In fact, FIFA virtually buried the dreams that the duo had that their resignation would trigger the collapse of the ZIFA Board when the world football governing body said those who were in charge of the sport, led by the three principal figures — Chiyangwa, Sibanda and Machana — would remain the legitimate leaders of the game in the country until elections are held.
ZIFA have rolled a road map that will culminate in elections for the executive committee being held in the first week of December.
FIFA’s decision was based on the ZIFA Electoral Code which says in Article 2 ( c ) that, “unless this code states otherwise, the elected bodies of the ZIFA (from the executive, the regions, provinces and area zones) shall continue to exercise their functions until the completion of the electoral process.”
Some ZIFA provincial chairmen confirmed much with Masvingo’s Naboth Magwizi noting yesterday that “expectations of some crisis erupting in the leadership because of the resignations had failed to make any impact”.
“It must be understood that we elected those people but when they left they did not consult us and football has continued to run smoothly without them. We have continued to administer football.
“As provinces we are elected by clubs and we report to clubs in our areas and in turn we elect those who sit on the board.
“In any case elections have been going on in terms of the election roadmap and after completing the ones for the Area Zones we are now focussing on the provinces and then we go to the regions and from there the Exco.
His Mashonaland Central counterpart Gilbert Saika echoed similar sentiments.
“To be more precise their absence has never been felt in football. Everything has remained normal and we are preparing for our elections very well with the electoral committee constantly updating us.
“The fact that those two abandoned ship with the hope of causing a crisis or sinking the ship means they cannot be trusted with any leadership position in this game again,” Saika said.
Derrick Matapure of Mashonaland West said the fact that the election roadmap was in full swing was testimony that the bid “to cripple ZIFA had failed”.
“As far as we are concerned that move was of no effect. In Mash West and indeed across all provinces, life has gone on.
The way I saw it, there was a hidden hand behind those resignations and thankfully people in the assembly realised that there was plot to paralyse ZIFA operations and ignored them and football is fulfilling the constitutional requirement of holding elections without any tensions either,” Matapure said.