27 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Zifa Set Asiagate Appeals Deadline

AS had largely been expected, the Zifa assembly ratified the decisions taken by the association's board over Asiagate while a deadline has now been set for those who want to appeal. The Zifa assembly met in the capital on Saturday for an extraordinary meeting at which they were also given the true precarious financial position that the association finds itself in.

The councillors reviewed the events that have been taking place in the domestic game over the last few months.

The assembly, domestic football's top policy making body, can either ratify or reject major decisions that impact on the game but traditionally successive councils have hardly gone against the board.

It was the same tale at Prince Edward School on Saturday where Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze emerged from the indaba to announce yesterday that the councillors had not only ratified the Asiagate penalties, but also endorsed the decision by the board to ban four individuals, including Southern Region chairman Gift Banda, for their alleged role in the Centralgate match-fixing scandal.

Mashingaidze said the assembly had been unanimous in their decision to ratify the dissolution of the Zimbabwe Soccer Referees Association in line with a Fifa directive that ordered Zifa to have just one committee overseeing the functions of local match officials.

The match officials had often run into problems over which was the superior body between the Zifa referees committee and the ZSRA, which also acted as their labour body.

However, it was the assembly's sentiments on the Asiagate scam that had been expected to dominate proceedings at the extraordinary indaba.

But by the end of the debate the councillors, drawn from all the country's 10 provinces and four regions, resolved to adopt the Justice Ebrahim report, which formed the basis upon which the Zifa board came up with their bans.

Mashingaidze also announced that they had set a November 30 deadline for Asiagate appellants to note the appeals with Zifa.

"The board briefed the assembly on the progress made to date on Asiagate and that the outstanding bans will be pronounced on Tuesday (today) once all the affected individuals have been notified.

"We are currently serving the individuals with their letters and all appeals have to be noted by no later than November 30, 2012 to enable the appeal committee to start preparing for the hearings and release of the documents required by the appellants.

"We are now approaching the festive season and we want these appeals to be done before year end.

"The assembly ratified the report and also adopted the sanctions imposed on four individuals (Gift Banda, David Ngwenya, Sungano Makwangudze, and Martin Shoko) and asked that the remaining cases be brought before the judicial committees before the end of the year.

"It was also unanimously resolved that the Zimbabwe Soccer Referees Association had ceased being a member of the Zifa assembly in line with Fifa statutes and directives and the councillors felt it is unheard of for a member association to defy a Fifa directive," Mashingaidze said.

Mashingaidze said Zifa president Cuthbert Dube had in his remarks to the indaba implored on the councillors to shift their attention back to their immediate task "rather than focusing on the 2014 elections which are still some way to come".

Dube had also warned that Zifa, literally insolvent, could close shop if urgent interventions are not made to offset the US$4 million debt that is pegging back the association's operations.

"It was noted that Zifa is broke and that there was need for our budgets to service our needs.

"The assembly then moved the motion to thank the Zifa president for his benevolence and urged him to continue steering the ship in the wake of the challenges being faced by Zifa.

"The president called on the family of football to be masters of their own destiny and have football resourced through a Trust fund that will cater for hosting of events, national teams and all the major obligations.

"By no later than December 31 the Trustees should have been appointed.

"He (Dube) also called for an urgent intervention in the finances of the association including board members and councillors foregoing their allowances as part of the austerity measures," Mashingaidze said.

Dube, Mashingaidze also said, had noted with concern that the game remained polarised with some councillors spending more energy on clandestine meetings which were not beneficial to the game.

"He urged the councillors to guard against detractors meeting in the dead of the night to plot for the 2014 Zifa elections without focusing on their current mandate and obligations," Mashingaidze said.

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