By Rusununguko Shone
A ZIMBABWE Football Association (ZIFA) emergency executive committee meeting on 16 January 2019 culminated in the suspension of Vice President Gift Banda on allegations of misconduct.
It also saw the subsequent elevation of ZIFA treasurer Phillemon Machana to the position briefly held by Banda, albeit only in acting capacity.
Fourteen months and 19 days later, Banda was acquitted by the ZIFA disciplinary committee whose sitting allowances for the serial hearings were paid by ZIFA.
“He had the suspension letter in his pocket before the meeting even begun. All that was left was to convince a few other members to second his [Machana] motion for the suspension of Banda,” a source close to the developments said.
The quote is a revelation by a source describing the preconceived plot brewed by Machana to oust Banda.
Later, another ZIFA board member Chamunorwa Chiwanza was expelled.
It remains a mystery how Barbara Chikosi survived the purge. Based on the acrimony that exists between her and Machana, she should have been eliminated even before Banda.
Chikosi and Machana’s rift
Chikosi questioned the rationale of retaining Machana as the treasurer of a new ZIFA leadership when his name was tainted from alleged shady dealings during the reign of Phillip Chiyangwa.
Chikosi’s persistence to access the women’s football grant from FIFA Forward funds also irked the treasurer who had up to that time continued to evade the question.
Back to Machana’s pathological envy of Banda
For the 14-months that Banda was in and out of the ZIFA disciplinary committee hearings, Machana had been living Banda’s life as the Acting Vice president, a title that he quickly made everyone get used to.
In that position, he expanded his responsibilities from merely minding the purse to becoming the President’s right-hand man and on may occasions the de-facto president.
At the moment Machana is the chairperson of several of ZIFA’s standing committees, a role previously reserved for vice presidents.
During Banda’s serial disciplinary hearings, Machana maintained keen interest in the proceedings, demanding to be copied in all correspondences between the appellant and the accused’s lawyers.
Chenaimoyo Gumiro might be a fine lawyer but accepting to be ZIFA’s lawyer will leave his reputation with an indelible dent.
Not that he could have changed the outcomes of the cases, but his legal brain has not saved ZIFA from embarrassment in the following cases: Rift with COSAFA and eventual ban from attending 2020 AGM.
Gift Banda suspension could he have mitigated the damage? Yes. But with Machana’s overbearing approach, Gumiro has been but a front while Machana, a first semester law student with UNISA, has been the real lawyer. Results are there to tell.
Now that Banda is back, the first and obvious casualty in Machana’s phantasm is the title Vice President.
Without the powers of a vice president, can Machana continue to oversee every aspect of ZIFA [without much success] as has been the case?
Can Machana continue to wield boundless power over the General Secretary of ZIFA, Joseph Mamutse, who is also a remnant of the Chiyangwa reign riddled with fraud allegations.
There is no doubt that Banda returns as a deeply aggrieved person having lost a fortune in legal costs.
His reputation also took a knock for a man of his repute as a business person and politician to be outwitted by Machana whose best attempt at national politics was being president of a political party that never contested an election.
Without the powers vested in him by the vice president’s title, Machana will automatically lose the omnipotence and omnipresence of a god that he had gained within the executive committee, among the ZIFA councillors and ZIFA secretariat.
Gift Banda on the other hand assumes reigns of an office he was denied for over a quarter of his term. Vengeance for his persecution is a matter of when, not if.
Machana will fall harder, for, Kamambo seems divorced from the while football thing despite being the president of ZIFA.
There is no doubt that some individuals punched the air celebrating the return of a power monger who will undoubtedly shred Machana’s world, for Machana had become a pain to many.
Whispers of a possible overthrow of the executive committee have begun to do rounds, with allegations that a candidate for the presidency had already started splashing the cash.