A dose of Sugar in Zifa elections
MANICA DIAMONDS secretary general Sugar Chagonda looks set to add a somewhat sweet taste to next weekend’s Zifa elections by upsetting the apple cart. With Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa and his deputy Omega Sibanda all but guaranteed to retain their posts unopposed, next Saturday’s elections will most likely be about six men fighting for four seats.
Chagonda, Phillip Machana, Chamu Chiwanza, former referee Brighton Malandule, Stanley Chapeta and Barry Manandi are all eyeing the Zifa board.
Machana, Chiwanza, Malandule and Chapeta are believed to be aligned to the Chiyangwa camp while Chagonda and Manandi are understood to have the backing of those opposed to maintaining the status quo.
Machana is seeking to retain his post in the board and is waving the manner he has managed to handle Zifa’s finances to members of the Electoral College.
Chiwanza is savvy and is widely expected to benefit from his closeness to Chiyangwa, the Zifa boss who still has the backing of a majority of the Zifa councillors.
“I am confident of being elected into the Zifa board, I have answered the call of the football godfathers and have told the councillors what I stand for,” said Chiwanza in an interview from Turkey, where he is on business.
Chapeta comes in with a wealth of experience and the backing of the central region.
Chapeta, the central region chair, says the “pain of seeing a continuous and unabated downward spiralling of the sport and the inherent drive to help our football change pushed him into the election”.
“I have also realised that the image of our football nationally can only improve with mature, reputable, credible, loyal and experienced men and women managing it, myself included,” said the veteran administrator.
Malandule is also pointing at his vast football experience.
However, there is a feeling among some influential members of the Zifa Assembly that a board full of Chiyangwa allies will not be healthy for the game.
“PC (Chiyangwa) has the Zifa presidency but he cannot have it all, one or two of his allies have to fall so that we don’t have a board of yes men.
“Remember the guy is also close to PSL chairman Farai Jere and there is no way we can expect Phillip and Farai not to cooperate with each other,” said a member of the anti PC camp.
Manandi was nominated by the Zifa Northern Region and is pledging to use his experience as a marketing executive to help transform the image of the soccer governing body.
“Its time to change the way we do business and I believe I am have the skills needed to help out football grow,” he said.
It remains to be seen how much headway Manandi has made in charming members of the Zifa assembly.
Chagonda has sold his gospel through a glossy “New Beginning for the People’s Game” manifesto but, crucially, has the “unequivocal backing” of the Eastern Region.
“We did not just nominate him but we are solidly behind him as well. Hopefully other councillors will see the wisdom of voting for him into the national board and add value to our game,” said Eastern Region chairman Davison Muchena.
However, what Muchena does not reveal is that during the usual horse trading meetings that always characterise the election build up, his region has told anyone who wants their bloc’s backing to declare their support for Chagonda.
And therein lies the sugar twist to next weekend’s Zifa elections!