Sports

ZIFA Restructuring Committee Urges New Progressive Constitution

The ZIFA Restructuring Committee has urged the national association to adopt a new constitution that will help break the cabals that have held football hostage for several years.

The committee, which was established by the Sports and Recreation Commission in December 2021 as part of the strategic roadmap towards addressing the issues that have affected football management and administration in Zimbabwe, believe the “flawed” ZIFA constitution is the bedrock of all the football challenges affecting Zimbabwe.

They also recommended in their final report that politicians and all public office holders should not be elected into the ZIFA structures to “avoid actual and perceived conflicts of interests, or politicising the association for personal glory.”

Sports Commission chairman Gerald Mlotshwa presented the detailed report yesterday.

“It is readily discernible from the committee’s recommendations that the root cause of ZIFA’s problems is a deeply flawed and outdated Constitution whose details are unknown to the greater number of its members,” said Mlotshwa.

“The ZIFA Constitution, because of its flawed nature, allows for the eventual election of persons equally flawed in character and integrity, and lacking in basic management skills.

“These persons are incapable of separating the affairs of ZIFA from their personal needs and ambitions, financial and otherwise.

“It is for this reason that any previous attempts at reform within ZIFA became highly charged and personalised affairs, with incumbent office holders thinking themselves attacked as individuals rather than the organisation itself or the office held within ZIFA.”

The report by the committee is a product of broader consultative processes with football stakeholders, during which engagement was sought from a general football audience to obtain insights into the state of football at various levels.

Apart from adopting a new progressive constitution, ZIFA have been urged to enhance management and financial accountability at all levels, adopt legal prescriptions and standards for sports administration, ensure self-sustaining national team programs autonomous from ZIFA and attract private sector interest in football by reforming ZIFA.

“These steps will go a long way in creating a framework which will undoubtedly lead us to greatly improved football in the great nation of Zimbabwe,” said Mlotshwa.

Reasons were also given why politicians should not be permitted to hold office in ZIFA, as suggested in the draft constitution produced by the committee. Office holders have to avoid actual and perceived conflicts of interests, or politicising the association for personal glory.

Recently, acting ZIFA president Gift Banda, who is also legislator for Njube-Lobengula constituency in Bulawayo, found himself accused of misappropriating FIFA equipment to run his campaign for public office in this year’s general elections. He denied the allegations.

The Committee recommended that ZIFA must commit to have a new constitution within the next three to six months, develop a strategic plan in the same period and hold elections under the new constitution.

The Restructuring Committee also established from the stakeholder consultations that the ZIFA Congress had been stripped of its powers and its roles had been reversed with the ZIFA board.

“The Executive Committee was viewed as a law unto itself. It was not accountable to Congress. There was no established system of checks and balances against the abuse of power… “The ability of the Executive Committee to provide cash incentives and rewards to councilors was one of the ways in which its members could entrench themselves,” said Mlotshwa.

“It was ZIFA’s equivalent of a football cabal.

“The Judicial and Appeals Committee was made up of friends and co-workers. Some of these judges are personal lawyers for the Executive Committee; their independence and integrity are compromised.

“There was expressed a need for the establishment of an effective and independent committee dealing exclusively with gender issues as they relate to women in football, particularly in formulating policies and procedures to safeguard against sexual harassment and other predatory behavior prevalent against women in football.”

The report has since been handed over to the ZIFA leadership. The Sports Commission expects the association to consider the report for adoption at their next general meeting.

These recommendations will form the basis of a roadmap, with specific time-frames and milestones, for tangible implementation of reforms in football administration.

Summary of Key Recommendations

The Constitution must state that the laws of Zimbabwe take precedence over all other rules and regulations of ZIFA. The registration of ZIFA’s constitution with the SRC infers this, but the document must be explicit in this respect…

It recommends that the constitution should bar public office holders from running for ZIFA office to avoid actual and perceived conflicts of interests, or politicising the association for personal glory.

Further recommended is the rationalisation of the powers of the ZIFA president, the conferring of explicit authority on the general secretary to manage the day-to-day affairs of ZIFA.

In this latter respect, the much-abused emergency committee is recommended for abolishment as it has been used to circumvent both the secretariat, the Executive Committee and Congress itself.

In so far as office bearers are concerned, the recommendations are that there should be a minimum threshold of qualifications to become an Executive Committee member.

In so far as council members are concerned, there must be a minimum demonstrated understanding of the constitution and regulations to be a ZIFA council member, as well as acceptable literacy skills.

The committee recommended that these national teams should be housed in a structure that receives direct budgetary and administrative support from Government whilst ensuring that FIFA rules are respected in so far as the principle of non- interference is concerned.

The committee recommended that ZIFA develop a standardised system to rate academy programs and school programs.

There should be developed a national database for all junior players that is functional and easily accessible.

Additionally, ZIFA should develop and support quality leagues and competitions accessible for all ages and skill levels.

Women should be empowered to manage their own affairs in football. Key to this is allowing them to have direct access to FIFA funding so that it is applied to purposes intended. Women should be included at all levels of the game’s administration on a quota system.

ZIFA should be at the forefront, either with FIFA’s assistance, or through effective lobbying of Government and local authorities, of developing facilities that encourage use for football games at a professional and recreational level.

There should be a FIFA rated national training centre. ZIFA village is not fit for purpose.

ZIFA relies almost exclusively on FIFA and CAF funding for its operations. It was recommended that ZIFA invest in senior business strategy and marketing positions. It should respect and maximise partnerships and retail opportunities and identify new revenue streams. ZIFA should be run as a business, not as a fiefdom or cabal.

Office bearers, administrators and coaches must have minimal CAF and FIFA qualifications and/or training. Coaching standards must be set and regulated.

ZIFA should develop a specific strategy as part of a five-year plan for fostering football in the school system, especially for girls.

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