Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane has told the new Zifa board to invest its energy on resource mobilisation, while warning the association against concentrating on residual conflicts and needless squabbles.
The Philip Chiyangwa-led two-week-old Zifa board is in the eye of a storm following its decision to fire popular Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa and his entire technical staff last Thursday.
Pasuwa was dismissed after he resisted a board move to fire long-serving team manager Sharrif Mussa to accommodate former Under-20 manager Wellington Mpandare.
Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda on Friday said they were also disturbed with the situation where Pasuwa’s manager, Gibson Mahachi, was also manager of a sizeable number of players in the Warriors’ squad, arguing this violated Fifa Code of Ethics.
The shocking decision to fire Pasuwa, three weeks before the 2016 Chan finals, came 10 days after the mother body controversially ordered fresh elections at the Premier Soccer League to choose a representative for the top flight body on the new Zifa board.
The new leadership argued that PSL leader Twine Phiri was part of the board led by Cuthbert Dube whose mandate was revoked by the Zifa Assembly on October 3.
However, Minister Hlongwane is not amused by developments that he says could destroy football.
“The new Zifa board must take due care not to be arrested by residual Zifa conflicts and needless boardroom squabbling that have the potential of destroying football.
“It is also important that Zifa takes time to apply itself to matters of national interest before announcing major decisions that have disruptive capacity and have a potential of injuring the national pysch,” Minister Hlongwane warned.
The PSL has written to Zifa to confirm Phiri as their representative on the new board.
On Friday, Minister Hlongwane also dissuaded the new leadership from the old habit of extending the begging bowl each time there is a national team assignment.
Cash-strapped Zifa, sitting on a US$6 million debt, has tabled a US$150 000 budget for the Chan finals and last week sent an SOS to Government and other sponsors for a bail out.
However, Minister Hlongwane – who is leading calls for Pasuwa’s reinstatement – said he expected fresh ideas from the board.
“What we want the new Zifa board to do is to move away from the habits of the old Zifa board.
“We are expecting new methods, new ways of doing things, a fresh approach in terms of how to deal with the issues of funding for the national team,” he said.
“There must be a resource mobilisation plan, based on a clearly spelt out time table of events. It cannot be that each time there is a tournament, a begging bowl is extended.”
The minister, who has ordered Chiyangwa to cut short his leave and address the football “mess”, believes Zifa can stand on its own.
“Zifa has an obligation to fund all national team assignments, where we as Government can intervene we will be able to intervene.
“You know as much as I do that the fiscal coffers are crippled and we do not necessarily think that sport should entirely depend on Government support.
“We want football to stand on its own, we want football to understand that it is a business. They have to mobilise the corporate sector for funding,” he said.
“The corporate world has a very crucial role to play in terms of football funding. A lot of money has been poured into football, but there is an imbalance in terms of achievements. You find that some under-funded associations have actually achieved more.”