hearings into the state of football administration in the country by a Sports Commission task force started under a cloud after a number of ZIFA affiliates in the capital failed to attend having received a letter from the association that the event would be held on July 27.
Although the Sports Commission advised football stakeholders to converge at Queen Elizabeth School yesterday, for the first of the hearings, a number of ZIFA affiliates did not attend because the official invitation from the Association told them that the hearings would be held on July 27.
The letter sent by ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze on Monday to the association’s affiliates indicated that the hearings would be held on July 27, and not July 7, as lined up by the Sports Commission’s task force.
This confusion, given that most of the Affiliates rely on official communication from the ZIFA Secretariat, and against a background of concerns by some that they could be attending an illegal meeting, meant that the majority of them did not attend yesterday’s public hearings.
Although scores of fans, coaches, administrators and journalists attended the hearings, the Association’s affiliates — especially the Premier Soccer League leaders — were conspicuous by their absence at the meeting in the capital.
A number of them, including ZIFA Councillors whose input would have been crucial, blamed the confusion created by the official invitation that they received from ZIFA on Monday related to the date of the hearings.
“A Committee of Inquiry into the state of football in Zimbabwe established by the Sports and Recreation Commission will be conducting public hearings on the state of football in Zimbabwe,” the letter from Mashingaidze read.
“A hearing has been scheduled as follows:
Date: Tuesday, 27th July 2017
Venue: Queen Elizabeth High School Hall
Time: 0900 to 1200
“The Committee will be interrogating issues around the general state of football in Zimbabwe during their month-long tour of duty around Zimbabwe.
“Please kindly volunteer as much information as you can.”
The letter was sent to all affiliates resident in Harare, who include the premier Soccer League, the ZIFA Northern Region, Zimbabwe Women Football, Five-Aside, Beach Soccer, NAPH, NASH, Tertiary and Area Zones.
It was copied to the ZIFA president, Cuthbert Dube, Board Members, Assembly Members, Honorary Members and the Secretariat.
One ZIFA Councillor, who did not attend the hearings yesterday, blamed the confusion on his absence and said it was something that the Sports Commission should consider.
“The letter that we received addresses the issue of the ‘Public Hearings By the Commission Of Inquiry Into The State Of Football In Zimbabwe On 7th July 2015,’ and appears to suggest that the date has been moved to the 27th of July,” said the Councillor.
“Given that issues about legal and illegal meetings has been topical within our Association, I felt that it would be in my best interest that I don’t attend, since the letter from ZIFA said the meeting would be held on July 27th.
“It was only later in the day that I realised that the meeting had gone ahead today (yesterday) and I have to say that I felt let down because how was I supposed to proceed in that situation and, maybe, my views were not wanted, I don’t know.
“But it’s something that the Sports Commission have to look into because a huge constituency of the game, those who are part of the running of our football, were disenfranchised by the confusion over the dates.”
Meanwhile, issues related to how funds are managed at ZIFA hogged the limelight at the first hearings in the capital yesterday.
Suspended ZIFA board member, Miriam Sibanda, representatives from the Friends of the Warriors, Five-Aside, Zimbabwe Soccer Coaches Association chairman Bheki Ncube, members of the Zimbabwe Soccer Legends Trust, ordinary supporters and a host of current and former ZIFA employees attended the meeting Former ZIFA administrator Lazarus Mhurushomana, Harare province chairman Owen Chandamale, sports consultant Tinashe Mapuranga and ex-national Under-17 coach Lloyd Chigowe also made their contributions during the no-holds barred meeting.
Delegates at the meeting called for an independent audit at the ZIFA headquarters and a probe on the “loans” that were advanced to the Association by its president Dube.
ZIFA are reeling under crippling debts which stood at close to $7m at the beginning of the year. The financial situation at 53 Livingstone Avenue have left the association seriously incapacitated to the extent they nearly failed to fulfil national team assignments.
Some of the stakeholders also said the committee should look into development grants that were injected into ZIFA by world governing body, FIFA.
The committee heard that some of the funds were unaccounted for and did not reach the intended beneficiaries.
The Sports Commission also came under fire for failing to rein in the ZIFA leadership despite overwhelming evidence pointing to the collapse of football administration in the country.
The committee will hold another meeting at Bulawayo Polytechnic on Saturday where they also gather oral and written evidence.
Obadiah Moyo’s committee was set up by the Sports Commission recently and they are expected to submit their report by July 31, 2015 after which the full SRC Board will decide on the recommendations.
The other members of the committee are former Hockey Association of Zimbabwe president Farai Kanyangarara, Miriam Mushayi and Jessie Nyakatawa.
The inquiry shall be held through a combination of public and closed hearings, and written submissions.
The combination of the three mediums is to reach out to as many people and stakeholders in as little time as possible.