The riveting ZIFA election season took another turn yesterday with new dates being set for the board elections in line with constitutional requirements, amid stunning revelations of a renewed hatchet job to oust incumbent Philip Chiyangwa using international funding sourced from within the Confederation of African Football corridors.
ZIFA Electoral Committee chairman Vusilizwe Vuma announced in a statement yesterday that the board elections, pencilled in for tomorrow, had now been shifted to December 16.
The move also follows the reinstatement of the trio of Felton Kamambo, Gift Banda and Mlungisi Moyo, who had initially been disqualified.
It also emerged that the Electoral Committee sought to fulfil a constitutional requirement which entails that the ZIFA Congress be availed with names of the candidates of the executive committee elections at least 15 days before the polls.
The final list of candidates for the board elections has had to be redrawn following the reinstatement of the trio of Kamambo, Banda and Moyo and the withdrawal of sportscaster Barry Manandi from the race.
Kamambo will now challenge Chiyangwa in the battle for ZIFA president, former Njube Sundowns director Banda faces Omega Sibanda for vice-president while Moyo has to contest against five other candidates for a place on the board.
There are four slots for the ZIFA board to be contested by six candidates that include incumbent board member finance Philemon Machana, public relations executive Sugar Chagonda, businessman Chamu Chiwanza, Stanley Chapeta and Brighton Malandule.
Although Kamambo and Banda had their protests dismissed by the Appeals Committee, Vuma’s electoral committee had after close analysis noted some anomalies in the manner the appeals were conducted.
It is against this background that the body that is tasked with conducting the elections reinstated the pair together with Moyo.
Sources close to the goings-on at the Electoral Committee indicated last night that despite some anomalies having been observed in the nomination papers, Vuma’s committee had later also noted that there was an electoral code violation in the handling of the appeals:
After reinstating the disqualified candidates, the committee set new dates noting that:
“… in terms of the association’s statutes, there was need for the councillors, who form the Electoral College, to be given due notice of the final list of candidates.
“According to the electoral code is was also observed that in the event of disqualification of a candidate, and the candidate notes an appeal, that appeal must be heard and dispensed of within four days.
“In this case the Appeals Committee sat well after the stipulated four-day window period, which rendered their ruling a nullity.
“So the postponement to December 16 has been necessitated by the need to comply with the ZIFA constitution which requires that 15 days before the elective congress, names of all contestants of the ZIFA executive should be sent to all the ZIFA members.
“So that has now been done and 15 days from now the election can be held,” the sources said.
But it also emerged that Kamambo’s spirited fight against his disqualification had received impetus from a $100 000 war chest bankrolled by a top CAF official in a bid to elbow Chiyangwa out of domestic football and subsequently trigger his spectacular exit from the regional and continental game.
“A top CAF official through his proxies sent funding to Kamambo last week to try and help him unseat Chiyangwa.
“It’s an extension of the Sandton Project for which Kamambo was an active member before he resigned from the ZIFA board in March but the plot has thickened this time in that Chiyangwa’s ascendency to the CAF executive has unnerved some powers within the continental body’s corridors of power.
“It is a CAF requirement that for one to challenge for the CAF presidency, he or she has to be on the executive committee first.
“The way Chiyangwa masterminded the downfall of Issa Hayatou and ended his 29-year-old hegemony has never been lost on the CAF leadership and his shadow seems to always loom large on the politics of the continental game.
“After all, COSAFA is the largest CAF zone with 14 member countries so it is seen as better way to oust him from ZIFA and stop his influence from spreading beyond the country’s borders,” the sources said.
Kamambo late yesterday also sought to add some confusion to the December 16 elections with the former Central Region chairman – one of the rebel forces behind the revocation of Cuthbert Dube in 2015 – declined to commit himself to participating in the rescheduled polls.
The ZIFA presidential aspirant wrote to Vuma noting his reinstatement but claimed that he would now await the greenlight from FIFA or the Sport and Recreation Commission in order to participate.
“I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 27 November 2018 in which you advised that your committee has reviewed the decision made by the ZIFA Appeals Committee to bar me from taking part in the coming elections and that I am also eligible to contest now.
“It is a welcome development that you have now seen the light and decided to allow me to contest.
“However, I am puzzled by the way your esteemed committee continues to blatantly breach the ZIFA constitution and the electoral code particularly Article 6(1) b which states that one of your key duties is to strictly enforce the statutes, directives and regulations of FIFA, CAF and ZIFA.
“I am left wondering how on earth your committee gets the power to review a decision of the upper committee that is the Appeals Committee. Article 12(4) of the electoral code clearly outlines that the decisions of the Appeals Committee are final and may not be monitored by any Government body.
“That as it may and in compliance with the statutes I have taken my issue up with FIFA for redress since I had exhausted all the internal processes.
“I am actually waiting for the response of the two entities since you no longer have locus standi to review my matter. Until I get guidance from FIFA and or SRC, your letter shall remain of no use or force.
“Your committee has been in breach of the ZIFA statutes at will and I have no confidence that you will be able to deliver a credible and acceptable election.
“I have personally lost confidence and trust in your committee,” Kamambo wrote.
That Kamambo revealed in his letter to Vuma yesterday that he was awaiting a cue from FIFA or SRC on the next step to take also puts paid to social media claims that the former board member was armed with documents from the world soccer governing body issuing directives to ZIFA on what to do with his fate.