Zimbabwe: Zifa Barred From Cosafa Indaba

22 January 2020

The relentless boardroom battle between ZIFA and their former president, Philip Chiyangwa, has taken another ugly twist with the country's football leaders being barred from attending the COSAFA annual meeting in South Africa on Saturday.

The regional football grouping has also warned ZIFA that the local football governing body could be suspended from COSAFA because, according to a letter sent by the organisation's general secretary, Sue Destombes, failing to pay their dues.

Relations between ZIFA and COSAFA have deteriorated in recent months.

Last year, the local football mother body launched an attempt to recall Chiyangwa from his post after their spectacular fallout on the domestic front.

ZIFA bosses even toyed with the idea of joining the Confederation of East and Central African Football Associations last year.

For the past month, ZIFA bosses and Chiyangwa have been locked in a fierce boardroom battle, which has also spilled into the courts of law, with both parties throwing missiles at each other.

The ZIFA leaders claim Chiyangwa allegedly misused the association's funds, when he was leader of the association, before he was toppled from his post by Felton Kamambo in December 2017.

The Harare businessman denies the charges, including claims he diverted balls donated by La Liga, which were meant for grassroots football development, for his own use.

In recent days, allegations have also emerged, claiming Kamambo was being investigated for allegedly bribing councillors to vote for him, ahead of the watershed elections in December 2017, which he won.

The Harare business executive denies the charges and says this is all part of a smear campaign by those who have always been opposed to his rise to become the ZIFA president, trying to hurt his reputation and bring down his leadership.

The boardroom battles have now spilled into the COSAFA, again, just a few months after the ZIFA leaders tried, and failed, to oust Chiyangwa from his position as head of the regional grouping.

The ZIFA leaders argued they had lost confidence in Chiyangwa and, as the mother body which provided the springboard for the Harare business executive to take over as the regional football leader, they had a right to recall him from that office.

However, COSAFA dismissed those claims although relations between Chiyangwa and the ZIFA leaders have remained frosty and sharply deteriorated in recent weeks.

Last Saturday, the ZIFA leaders raised concern over the COSAFA financial reports, especially the part which revealed the allowances which had been paid to the regional group's executive members, which amounted to a total of about R1,5 million.

Chiyangwa, as the COSAFA boss, received R301 150 in allowances last year while a further R580 000 was paid as an "honorarium" payment.

COSAFA vice-president Frans Mbidi of Namibia received R156 850 in allowances last year while Timothy Shongwe, the other executive member from Swaziland, got R147 390.

Other COSAFA executive members, including Football Association of Malawi boss Walter Nyamilandu, who is a FIFA executive committee member, received R100 000 each in allowances.

ZIFA said they wanted time to look at the COSAFA financials in a letter to Destombes but, yesterday, they received a response which advised them they would not be allowed to attend the meeting on Saturday.

"We are advised by the emergency committee of COSAFA that as ZIFA is not in good standing due to the non-payment of financial dues to COSAFA, in terms of Article 27.6, which reads:

"A member association which fails to pay its subscription or other financial dues, in terms of these statutes, shall lose all rights and privileges in COSAFA, provided that it shall remain bound by these statutes and the duties and obligations imposed on every member association.

"Such member association shall be liable for suspension by the emergency committee. Such a member association shall also be liable for penalties to be imposed by the emergency committee . . .

"The association may not attend any meeting, or activity, of COSAFA, including the annual general meeting taking place on 25th January 2020."

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