Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THE Minister of Youth, Arts, Sports and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry, says she is aware of the problems facing domestic football and has given a chance for investigations to be carried out on ZIFA by the Sports Commission.
The Sports Commission, which falls directly under the Ministry, are currently investigating ZIFA over alleged breaches of national coronavirus protocols.
The two organisations, however, have been at each other’s throats of late after the Sports Commission questioned the manner in which national age-group football teams were cleared to participate at the recent COSAFA tournaments in South Africa without following procedure as stipulated during this delicate Covid-19 period.
The Sports Commission suspended ZIFA chief executive officer, Joseph Mamutse, and the Sports Commission’s director-general, Prince Mupazviriho, to facilitate the investigations.
However, ZIFA came out guns blazing and have challenged the suspension of Mamutse, who has since gone on leave.
Coventry yesterday said she has been fully briefed about the developments.
“The chairman of the Sports Commission (Gerald Mlotshwa) and I speak almost on a daily basis. So the Sports Commission keeps my office fully appraised of the decisions that the board takes,” she said.
“But in terms of the latest decisions that have been made regarding ZIFA, I am not going to talk specifically about those because there are investigations that are happening.
“So in order for the process of the investigation to happen fairly and freely, I don’t feel that I should comment specifically on that. I will wait for those investigations to happen and to be able to get the report before I can give any specific comment on those particular outcomes.”
But the Sports Commission, in their regulatory role, have maintained that sports administrators should respect the laws of the country in their dispensation of duty to avoid conflicts with the authorities.
The Sports Commission said they acted in terms of Section 30 of the SRC Act and related legislation, particularly targeted at Covid-19 prevention.
The provisions of the SRC Act gives them the right to “suspend all or any of its officers” of an erring member or, in the worst case scenario, “strike the association from the register”.
The move, however, did not go down well with ZIFA who went on to approach the Administrative Court and also threatened to take the matter up with FIFA.
The threat by ZIFA could invite the wrath of the world’s football governing body, with the possibility of the country being suspended from international football activities if the intervention is deemed to be third party interference.
Coventry said Zimbabwe have faced big challenges with lack of compliance and governance issues but the local authorities have no power to act because of the agreement between the associations and their international bodies that do not tolerate any form of “interference”.
The biggest challenge in dealing with this is the need to balance domestic needs against the international bodies to which some of these national sports associations are affiliated.
Coventry said the revamping of the SRC Act and the proposed Sports Integrity Bill will help deal with such issues. She said governance issues are critical in the sport industry and she was worried by the shortcomings which keep cropping up, especially in football.
“In terms of the governance issues that keep cropping up, especially with soccer, this is something that I am very hopeful, with our Zimbabwe Integrity Sports Law, it will stop that.
“It will allow for the national associations to be fully compliant and to uphold the integrity of the sport in this country. If a national association does not do that, there will be specific laws that will allow us to deal with them adequately.
“Right now there is nothing that is helping any of us. Even a national association, if you have in-house fighting, there is no law or resolution that you can go and lean on.
“The SRC Act, yes, it has some good things, but it is old. (For example) It still says no women should be boxing. So it needs to be repealed to allow better governance in sport and better leadership,” said Coventry.
The ex-Olympic gold medallist said people running sports organisations should have requisite qualifications in sport management to improve governance.
“The people who are running our national associations should have had some form of training. They should have some form of sport administration.
“That’s where you learn about the integrity of sport; things you should be doing and things that you shouldn’t.
“Those things fall on the shoulders of the national associations to ensure that those kinds of training are being done,” said Coventry.