DEPUTY Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Tabitha Kanengoni-Malinga is fed up with the Cuthbert Dube-led zifa board which she says “seems not to care about what is going on around them.”
As the minister expressed her reservations, zifa president Dube yesterday clearly showed that he is feeling the pinch of the barrage of criticism levelled against him as he dodged answering questions after being cornered by The Sunday Mail crew at his residence.
Deputy Minister Kanengoni-Malinga said fifa’s position that governments should not interfere with the running of football had cost the country dearly.
“I am personally not happy with the way zifa is running football. We have spoken to them on a number of occasions, I have even invited Mashingaidze to my office several times to register my displeasure but still there is no improvement.
“They seem not to care about what is going on around them. We have talent in abundance but if they don’t care about the players’ welfare like they are doing then there is nowhere we are going as a nation.
“The other time I was very embarrassed at the Gushungo Cup final where Vice President Mnangagwa was guest of honour when some players who participated at the chan Tournament in January last year said they were yet to receive their moneys.
“I think this whole idea where FIFA says governments must not interfere with the running of football has not done us any good,” said the deputy minister.
The embattled zifa boss was at loss of words when he was asked to respond to the criticism.
“You people (the media) have been blasting me all year round without relenting. What is it that you really want me to do?” retorted Dube, before setting up a later appointment with The Sunday Mail, which, however, never materialised.
Dube’s reign, whose highlight has been the continued plummeting of football standards underlined by the Warriors’ failure to qualify for three consecutive African Cup of Nations finals — 2012, 2013 and 2015 — has increasingly come under immense pressure to either steer the football ship to brighter days or step down.
The zifa boss has hitherto conveniently retreated into his shell, avoiding the limelight as the game continues to plunge.
A crippling debt running into almost six million dollars has been his shield in the face of criticism, but his failure to author a solution to these problems has not aided his cause.
Last Friday, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced the format of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, with the first qualifying matches scheduled to commence in June.
But with the way zifa are going about their business, local football fans, who have had to endure the agony of watching the ongoing afcon finals minus their beloved Warriors at a tournament where even tiny Cape Verde are lining up against the continent’s best, might have to wait a little longer before dreaming of a return to African football relevance.
Dube, who of late has appeared to have developed a thick skin to both absorb and repel volleys of criticism from all corners and a call to step down, yesterday in a rare and very brief telephone conversation with The Sunday Mail said he is being crucified.
Just recently, the Lifelong Footballers Trust of Zimbabwe, fronted by former zifa board membzer Francis Zimunya and ex-Premier Soccer League CEO Chris Sambo have petitioned the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture to dissolve the Dube-led board.
zifa CEO Jonathan Mashingaidze has in turn reportedly dismissed the call as a futile one by a group of people with criminal records, whom he labelled vampires.
In the meantime one hopes Dube will soon re-constitute the disbanded Warriors — whatever that means — so that they can compete for a place at the next afcon finals in 2017.