JUST a month after coming into power, the ZIFA board have been rocked by a tsunami with vice president Gift Banda being suspended yesterday following a meeting of the game’s leaders held in the capital.
The Bulawayo-based football administrator, who was a runaway winner in the battle for the ZIFA vice presidency, was suspended for allegedly reshuffling the Warriors technical team without the blessings of his boss, Felton Kamambo, and other board members.
Banda, who was ZIFA acting president when he announced that Rahman Gumbo and Lloyd Mutasa had been relieved of their duties and replaced by Bongani Mafu and Tonderai Ndiraya, was said to have acted beyond the jurisdiction of his authority.
In arguments presented to his fellow board members yesterday, Banda said he felt his role as acting president empowered him to make such decisions.
He even suggested that if what he did was out of line with the constitution, then the board had the power to reverse the appointments and stick with the old Warriors technical set-up.
Kamambo was out of the country in Senegal for the CAF awards at the time.
The appointments of Ndiraya and Mafu had to be ratified at the ZIFA board meeting which was held yesterday, but things took a nasty turn when Banda was asked to leave the room while other board members discussed the issue.
While the board could have merely chosen not to ratify the appointments of Ndiraya and Mafu if they felt they had not been done according to their constitution, they decided that punitive measures should be meted on the ZIFA vice president.
The matter was taken to a vote and four of the seven remaining members voted for Banda to be suspended, pending the confirmation of his suspension by the ZIFA Council at the association’s annual meeting in March, while three voted for him to be retained as vice president.
Ironically, Banda, who received 35 votes from councillors in a strong showing in his successful battle to become the ZIFA vice president just a month ago, had his fate sealed by just four votes from his fellow board members.
Interestingly, a margin of one vote was all that mattered for him to be suspended from his post and he becomes the first ZIFA vice president to meet such a fate since Kenny Marange was also kicked out of the board by the leadership of Cuthbert Dube eight years ago.
It’s the first time that a ZIFA vice president, the second most powerful man in the management of the game in the country, has been booted out after just one month.
ZIFA boss Kamambo had, interestingly, told the domestic football family that his leadership will not suspend any of the board members because he felt such a system crippled the operations of the leadership of the game.
However, things changed dramatically yesterday when Banda was shown the red card by his fellow board members just one month after coming into office.
Banda refused to comment on the developments yesterday, saying he will release a comprehensive response in due course.
The appointments of Ndiraya and Mafu, as the Warriors assistant coaches, were also nullified by the ZIFA board at their meeting yesterday.
While there have been whispers that there could be some deep divisions, within a board that did not come into power as a bloc, it was not expected that the drama of yesterday — just a month after they came into power — could explode.
This was the second board meeting which the ZIFA board have held after one, which came just five days after they came into power, which some suggest was not held in line with their constitution given due notice had to be sent for such an indaba.
It could not be established last night whether the issue related to Banda’s conduct, which led to his suspension, had also been put on the agenda leading to the meeting held in the capital.
While the new ZIFA leadership have received a lot of plaudits for the way they have been conducting their business, in the month they have been in power, it’s certain that the events of yesterday will cast a shadow on them and possibly lead them on a path back to negativity.
That three of the board members were also against the suspension of their vice-president could also suggest a split in the board.
Others, though, will hail it as a demonstration of democracy which is needed for the effective management of the game.
In the past, the ZIFA executive committee members have come into power as a bloc — with those who would have won the vote having been running mates — but this changed at the last elections as most of those who won stood on their own.
Yesterday marked the first month since the new ZIFA board came into power.