Grace Chingoma, Harare Bureau
JOSEPH Mamutse’s chequered tenure as Zifa chief executive will once again come under the spotlight when the association’s board meets on Friday to discuss a host of football matters including the on-going re-engagement with Fifa.
Mamutse has literally been absent without leave for a month, having opted to ignore the lifting of his suspension by the Sports and Recreation Commission last month.
He instead reportedly chose to align himself with the fired trio of former Zifa president Felton Kamambo, Philemon Machana (board member finance) and board member development Bryton Malandule, who were recalled by the Zifa Congress at an extraordinary general meeting on April 23.
During that EGM, the Congress also tasked Gift Banda to lead the board which now includes Sugar Chagonda, Premier Soccer League and Women’s Soccer League chairpersons Farai Jere and Barbara Chikosi.
It is the first time that Banda and his colleagues are meeting as a board since the Sports Commission lifted the Zifa board’s suspension on June 8.
But they will be meeting without head of secretariat – Mamutse – who has been conspicuous by his absence from the Zifa Headquarters at 53 Livingstone Avenue in Harare, despite being cleared to resume his duties.
Zifa board sources told our Harare Bureau yesterday that Mamutse’s issue was among the items on the agenda as it is central to the operations of the secretariat.
Banda has already outlined in his roadmap that he wants the secretariat to be handed the authority to run the day-to-day administration of the game.
And for that welcome move to be implemented, Zifa need to have a stronger secretariat led by a CEO, who has the mandate to communicate with international bodies like Fifa, Caf and Cosafa and also sits on the board as an ex-officio member.
Communications and competitions manager, Xolisani Gwesela, has also been acting as the CEO at Zifa.
It has also emerged that before he opted to stay away from the reconstituted board, Mamutse had already fallen out of favour with some councillors who alleged that “he had become an albatross that was stifling efficiency in the Zifa operations and left Zimbabwe way behind other associations in the region and on the continent”.
Mamutse early this month turned down the lifting of his suspension by the Sports and Recreation Commission in an apparent move to demonstrate his loyalty towards the suspended board members.
Mamutse was frozen out for the past 18 months as events took different turns on the administration of domestic football, leading to the recent suspension of Zifa by Fifa.
The Zifa chief executive officer was suspended in November 2020, a year before the axe fell on the association’s board over a litany of allegations.
He was suspended along with the SRC director-general Prince Mupazviriho over a series of gaffes that negatively impacted on the game.
The duo’s suspension was effected to pave way for a probe into how they allegedly cleared a number of national teams, clandestinely for assignments outside the country, without following Covid-19 protocols, at the height of the pandemic.
Mamutse also faced charges relating to the manner in which Zimbabwe was left embarrassed after the national Under-17 were kicked out of the Cosafa tournament for age-cheating.
He unsuccessfully challenged his suspension at the Administrative Court with his case being struck off the roll last month with costs.