Despite the ‘new era’ perception, Zimbabwean football is still in the wrong hands

The difference between “therapist” and “the rapist” is the space between word and phase respectively.

That space ensures that the word in question represents a person who solves problems, whereas the phrase points to an individual who actually causes them.

The two even sound different because of the space. That is just how important space is.

Like anyone appointed or elected to take up a position, space is of paramount importance for the individual to have the freedom to implement his own ideas and Abraham Lincoln was no exception when he became the 16th United States president in 1861.

Lincoln’s chief goal when he ascended to the US presidency, according to the White House Historical Association, was to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, that eventually declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy in 1863.

It’s obviously not every American who was happy with Lincoln’s ascendancy, but he was given space to put into practice, what he believed was best for the most powerful country in the world.

That is exactly the same way football stakeholders reacted when Lincon Mutasa was tasked with leading Zimbabwean football for a year, in July last year.

The veteran admistrator was appointed ZIFA Normalisation Committee (NC) chairman by FIFA, when the world governing body lifted the suspension imposed on Zimbabwe for ‘third party interference’ 18 months ealier.

“The Bureau of the FIFA Council decided to lift the suspension that was imposed on the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) in February 2022 and appoint a normalisation committee with immediate effect,” FIFA said in a statement on July 10, to the delight of football-loving Zimbabweans.

The committee,  which initially comprised of Mutasa, Sikhumbuzo Ndebele, Rosemary Mugadza, and Nyasha Sanyamandwe before Cynthia Malaba was ropped in, was tasked with the following;

• Running the daily affairs of ZIFA

• Restructuring the ZIFA administration

•Establishing, with the help of FIFA, a collaboration agreement between the Ministry of Sport/the SRC and ZIFA, which will define the responsibilities and objectives of each party, including (but not exclusively) on the topic of sexual harassment

• Reviewing the ZIFA Statutes and Electoral Code to ensure their compliance with the
FIFA Statutes and requirements, and to ensure their adoption by the ZIFA Congress

•Acting as an electoral committee in order to organise and conduct elections of a new
ZIFA board based on the newly aligned ZIFA Statutes and Electoral Code

• Ensuring a proper financial handover to the new ZIFA Board

Most of the aforementioned tasks are yet to be completed six months down the line.

Many questioned if Mutasa, who was last in the trenches of mainstream football administration over three decades ago, would cope with the nitty-gritties of the morden game.

He has proven to be a stranger to morden football.

Mutasa was somewhat bragging in the Normalisation Committee’s first media briefing last week that his administration did well to organise the CAF African Schools Football Championship.

He even reffered to the success of the tournament as one of the NC’s achievements yet those in the truth-telling business will understand it was in fact CAF and COSAFA who were the main organisers.

Zimbabwe simply hosted the tournament, not that it was organised by the NC as Mutasa wanted unsuspecting football fans to belive.

In fact, the NC failed to organise a local tournament to select the teams and ended up picking players using a criteria which also needs to be thoroughly investigated.

The regrettable sexual harassment scandal which marred the Mighty Warriors’s return to international football also showed the NC’s lack of preparedness to handle such sensitive issues.

The officers mandated to safeguard every member of the team were found wanting at a time when they were called to act and tackle the issue head on.

Giving the scandal as an example during the same media briefing, Mutasa, bizzarely, failed to distinguish between journalism and Public Relations, and even insinuated that media practitioners need some kind of permission from him to publish stories involving scandals.

“I will give you an example of what happened in South Africa when we had a sexual harassment issue. We had some responsible journalists there, you know what they did? They phone me, I was here (in Zimbabwe),” said Mutasa.

“They said to me: ‘Look we have this sexual harassment issue, should we publish it?’ I told them I don’t think it should be published, I asked them to hold it until we would have dealt with it internally,” he added, drawing disapproval from some journalists present at the briefing.

Remember, Mutasa also reportedly lashed out at Zimbabwean journalists who were covering the Warriors’ World Cup qualifiers in Rwanda last year.

The former Dynamos chairman was not happy that the media wrote about the Warriors’ strike before the Nigeria game.

He even said the NC is considering ‘creating it’s own media’ —a reckless declaration which could have easily been interpreted as an attempt to capture a section of the press.

Additionally, Mutasa and company misled the nation when they claimed on ZTN Prime weekly football show The Couch that the NC had secured a technical partnership with Puma.

Mugadza, flanked by Mutasa, said: “We signed with Puma after the Umbro kit lapsed. We managed to seal the deal three days ago. I am promising you all the Warriors’ teams will be using the Puma kit.”

An investigation by this publication later revealed that contrary to their claims, the NC did not sign any deal with the German sportswear giant.

What actually happened is that a Zimbabwean distributor of Puma, sold playing and training kits directly to the NC.

Put simply, Puma does not have any contract with the Normalisation Committee.

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