Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
ASPIRING Zifa vice-president, Gift Banda, scoffed at social media reports that Zifa councillors were demanding bribes in exchange for votes, saying that is meant to spoil the good reception he has been receiving from assembly members.
Speaking at a Press conference where he also outlined part of his manifesto, Banda whose drive to challenge for Zifa’s vice-presidency is to take football back to its custodians, the councillors, said he will not be deterred by baseless social media reports.
“I want to set the record straight on alleged vote buying allegations against honourable members of the Zifa council which have gone viral on social media.
A lot has been happening on the ground and it’s common knowledge that election season is a silly season where all allegations or all things are thrown at contesting candidates. Things that won’t be right, some will say sijikelana udaka ukuthi singcolisane, but, nonetheless, I’m not a person who will do that. I’ve never before in all interactions with Zifa congress members been asked for monetary favours in exchange for votes. The congress knows who will deliver our game from the current quandary,” said Banda
“I don’t subscribe to the bad practice of vote buying and bribery as such a practice is short lived. The congress is made up of men and women of means who will not sink so low as insinuated in social media articles in circulation. My manifesto will be the difference between a football statesman and a football politician.
“The forces behind the social media article are exposing their pathological fear for free and fair elections, which are long overdue. Their days are numbered and their exit from our beautiful game is only 11 days away.
“Our election team, made up of men and women with unquestionable integrity and experience will remain focused on the job at hand and will devote all the energy towards the delivery of our game from the clutches of self-serving individuals who thought they were bigger than football.
“May I assure the congress and the millions of Zimbabweans that I will serve the people’s game to the letter once elected into office and that I shall be accountable to the Zifa congress as a servant leader.”
Banda said he has been received “warmly” by most councillors he has met.
He was evasive on allegations that aspiring Zifa committee member, Chamu Chiwanza, a well-known ally of Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, was campaigning on Banda’s behalf.
“In my candidature, I’m talking about taking the game of football back to its owners, back to the councillors. Going around the country, the first question I asked the councillors was that “are they in control of football?” and all of them have been giving me the same answer that they were not. What has been happening in the past is that councillors vote in the executive and once they are in office they usurp powers of the councillors. Our major problem in soccer is based on constitutionalism. The executive has deviated from following the constitution.
“We were brought back into the race because they didn’t follow the constitution or the electoral code,” Banda said.
He applauded the national football board for preventing the debt from ballooning.
Banda also said his decision to challenge Omega Sibanda for the vice-presidency was “nothing personal”.
“If there’s one thing we should give to the present Zifa executive, it’s that they inherited a debt of about $7 million and it still remains the same. If I get into Zifa I know we’ll see how we can retire the debt.
“They’ve managed to get us back to international football after being banned following that Tom Saintfiet matter.
“I feel and believe they are lacking in terms of running our football based on the constitution and finding our committees that don’t require money and its sad. The electoral committee as well as the appeals committee, which were not ratified by the assembly, are a clear breach of the constitution.
“I don’t have a running mate. If Chamu is campaigning for me I’ll take the vote. We’ve never made a pact that we’re campaigning as a team. I think if he’s doing so, he has seen my experience in football and believes that I’ll bring change in football, so, I’ll not throw away the energy he has in campaigning.
“On Sibanda, he has been a colleague and I appreciate what he has done at Zifa. I’m contesting because I feel that I still have a lot to contribute in football.
“It has nothing to do with personalities; that’s why in all my campaign I’ve never de-campaigned anyone or spoke about individuals because my campaign is about proffering solutions to the game where I feel the current Zifa has failed us,” said Banda.
He said he would want to see the Fifa grant given to Zimbabwe “visibly” filtering through to the grassroots, the country improving women’s football, which has a potential to be a powerhouse in Africa, as well as coming up with feasible policies that will identify, nurture and develop talent from the grassroot. — @ZililoR