The Zimbabwe Football Association, which is embroiled in bitter fighting within its executive and has failed to foot the bills of the national teams to fulfill their matches, cannot operate outside the jurisdiction of the government, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa told Parliament yesterday.
He said, however, that the football body fell directly under the Sports and Recreation Commission which was the statutory body that can approach the government if it cannot address ZIFA’s problems.
Mnangagwa had been asked by Mkoba Member of Parliament Amos Chibaya whether the government had a policy to intervene in the challenges affecting ZIFA.
ZIFA failed to meet the commitments of the national team last week resulting in local preacher Walter Magaya bailing the team out. It also called for the expulsion of current president Cuthbert Dube but this was annulled by the International Football Association. Dube has, however, suspended several councilors, a move that the Sports Commission says is illegal.
Despite the hiccup, the national went on to beat Malawi.
Mnangagwa could, however, have overstated the role of the government as FIFA does not entertain any government interference in the running of soccer.
FIFA has tended to suspend the national team and at times local teams whenever a government suspends the national football association.
This has tended to perpetuate corruption within national football associations, which is turn get rewarded by keeping FIFA officials like Sepp Blatter in office.
Zimbabwe was threatened with suspension in 2006 when President Robert Mugabe ordered the suspension of his nephew, Leo Mugabe, who was president of ZIFA at the time, following reports that funds that had been raised for the national team to play in the African Cup of Nations had been embezzled.
MR. CHIBAYA: My question is directed to the Vice President and the Leader of the House, Hon. Mnangagwa. Hon. Vice President, does Government have a policy position to ever intervene to the challenges affecting ZIFA? I thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Vice President, I think the Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture is there.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR. MNANGAGWA): Mr. Speaker Sir, let me take this opportunity to inform the hon. member that there is no institution in this country that can operate outside the jurisdiction of Government, including ZIFA. I thank you.
*MR. MUNENGAMI: My supplementary question to the Vice President is we are surprised by the fact the faith leaders are now assisting our warriors. We are not seeing what is being done by ZIFA. As you stated that no institution operates outside the jurisdiction of Government, but instead of Government being at the forefront – for example when our national team played Malawi, our warriors went by bus to Malawi, yet you are saying Government is in control. We now do not know how this can be rectified?
*MR. MNANGAGWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, please help me if I misunderstood the question. I heard as if he is talking of religious leaders. Does it mean that he is against the idea of religious leaders? I see nothing wrong when religious leaders intervene in anything that is happening in our country. If he does not understand the power of prayer, he should ask his colleagues, whether prayers are bad. I am aware that prayers are very important.
Secondly, as Government, we have a Sports Commission which is a statutory body and whenever there are any problems faced by this body, it will come for assistance to Government.
MR. MARIDADI: On a point of order. My point of order emanates from the response that has been given by the Hon. Vice President. Actually ZIFA went to Government and the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, promised the court that he would pay him by early this week including the bonuses, and that was reported by none other than The Herald. That is the specific answer that we would like to get from either the Deputy Minister or from the Vice President.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, on your point of order, the Hon Vice President has said, if I heard him correctly that the Sports and Recreation Commission is the immediate superintend of ZIFA and they have not yet come to Government and said they have failed to put ZIFA in order.