Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
SWIMMING icon Kirsty Coventry was overwhelmingly voted onto the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee board as Admire Masenda retained his post as president at a dramatic elective general assembly at Prince Edward School yesterday.
Coventry is one of the few three new faces on the National Olympic Committee’s leadership where Masenda and the rest on his hierarchy were retained.
The seven-time Olympic medallist proved she was popular among the member associations when she garnered 38 votes out of a possible 42 to take over one of the two vice-president’s posts.
“It’s a huge honour and I had the opportunity in the weeks leading up to talk to a few of the national federations and getting the majority of their vote today just gives me the confidence that they have confidence in myself and what I have to add and the value that I can bring to ZOC.
“It’s a huge honour and I am very excited and now the work begins,” said Coventry.
Coventry said she is looking forward to the board’s first meeting to discuss some of the areas she is concerned about.
Incumbent Masenda’s closest challengers, ex-Zimbabwe Karate Union president, Joe Rugwete and former Young Warriors manager, Charles Mukaronda, came a distant second and third.
Masenda got 31 votes while Rugwete secured nine and Mukaronda managed just two.
After securing a third and final term at the helm of ZOC, Masenda said his major concern is to try and make resources available for athletes’ capacity building.
“I think the critical issue that I keep emphasising is the issue of trying to unlock resources to help our athletes especially in preparations.
“I think the biggest shortcoming we have as a country is that we don’t prepare adequately and it’s a resource issue.
“Our sporting codes or our athletes will get usually a month, sometimes two weeks to prepare for a major event. And the issue I think is to try and get them to have comprehensive preparation programmes and it’s a resource issue and that’s the big challenge we are facing.
“The other issue is to continue capacitating of associations especially management,” Masenda said.
On the constitution which saw concerns being raised over the move that allowed outgoing board members to vote, Masenda acknowledged that it was an area that needs to be addressed.
“I think the issue is a priority. It’s a priority to get the constitution revamped and it’s actually not just even one motion.
“I think it’s an issue that we will as a board look at, revamp, probably call for an EGM to look at changes.
“So we are going to put a committee together, a legal team and they will revamp it and try and re-align all the issues. I think part of it, it’s a learning process.
“So I think for us as ZOC it’s a process that even though we thought we were well governed there is a flaw and as issues of governance develop for the world over and best practices develop you also have to keep up and adjust, that’s what we are doing,” said Masenda.
Rugwete conceded defeat, saying he respects the decision by the electorate.
“Well elections are done, the people have voted for the best candidate they believe will take their sport to the next level and I respect that,” said Rugwete.
However, Mukaronda was not happy with the decision to allow outgoing board members to vote.
“So the elections may have been orderly but like I highlighted before they were skewed in that I feel there are violations to the constitution that were done blatantly.
“So it is an area that needs a revisit that we have to look at.
“But I said it, I am standing my ground and say look if things had been done better, if we had worked better more so when there was admission that the constitution we are trying to follow has got a lot of issues.
“But I hope those things will be sorted and we look forward to a future where there are no such breaches,” Mukaronda said.
New vice-president Coventry joins Thabani Gonye, who retained his post after securing 27 votes to beat Frederick Ndlovu, who got 19 votes.
Northern Region Division One soccer league vice-chairman, Martin Kweza withdrew his candidature for the vice-president’s post just before the elections.
Kweza, however, contested for the board member’s post and lost.
Cleopas Nyangoni was re-elected treasurer, securing 33 votes against Godfrey Sunguro’s nine.
With Coventry being elected one of the vice-presidents, veteran netball administrator Leticia Chipandu was declared board member women as she was the only remaining candidate for the post.
Other board members elected were Addison Chiware with 19 votes, Rick Fulton had 30, Stephen Mudawarima 29, while former Hockey Association president Custom Kachambwa and Ndlovu got 31 votes each.
Former Zimbabwe Volleyball Association president Ndlovu and Mudawarima are the other new faces on the new board.
The board is expected to have at least three women but at the close of nomination only two names —Coventry and Chipandu — had been received.
ZOC’s leadership recommended and resolved that one slot be reserved and be contested at the 2018 general assembly.
The elections were presided over by life honorary member Robert Mutsauki and Sport and Recreation Commission acting director-general, Joseph Muchechetere.
Meanwhile, ZOC chief executive Anna Mguni yesterday announced the chefs de mission for the 2018 African Youth Games in Algeria and Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Sebastian Garikayi will lead team Zimbabwe for the AYG and Coventry is the chef de mission for the Youth Olympic Games.