Ellina Mhlanga, Sports Reporter
ELEVEN years after he first swept to power at the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, Admire Masenda faces the biggest challenge of his tenure when he squares off against the pair of Joe Rugwete and Charles Mukaronda in a presidential election at Prince Edward School tomorrow.
Masenda, who first became ZOC president in 2006 when he completed the half term that had been left by Paul Chingoka’s departure, is seeking a third and final term as leader of the Olympic body.
The former basketball administrator was exuding confidence that he would brush aside his equally upbeat challengers – Rugwete and Mukaronda – and has been preaching the gospel of continuity.
With all three candidates declaring they are ready for the challenge, the stage is set for the polls and the ZOC electorate will now have to decide on whether they stick to the man they have known for the last decade or choose a new face to lead them.
Of the 32 national associations affiliated to ZOC, 30 will vote tomorrow while the other two “that are not in good standing with the National Olympic Committee’’’ will not be able to exercise their right.
All 11 posts that make up the board are up for grabs.
Olympian Kirsty Coventry is also in the trenches for one of the two posts of vice-president where she squares up with incumbent Thabani Gonye, Martin Kweza and Frederick Ndlovu.
Despite the dent that has been put by the controversy over the flawed application of the statutes, Masenda yesterday declared ZOC ready to host the general assembly and also claimed readiness to face his rivals.
“(I’m) absolutely ready. I think I have been out there speaking to the associations, mainly one on one and my message is simply protect, consolidate and build.
”We have made achievements over the last 10 years when we also protected what was there before we came in.
“We want to consolidate that position and enhance the position of ZOC as a model NOC, as a deliver of value to the national sports associations and other stakeholders and then to build on it,” said Masenda.
He also spoke about concerns raised his challengers.
“The issue of board members voting is enshrined in the constitution and I think what is critical is, it’s enshrined in the constitution. We have a constitution that is registered and in this I emphasise, registered with the SRC (Sports Commission) and the IOC.
”If we were violating the constitution this would have been raised,” said Masenda.
Mukaronda yesterday insisted there was no Fair Play.
”There are breaches of the constitution and our lawyers have written to them to that effect and they seem not to want to take heed.
“But all said and done we are fighters, we are ready to give it our best shot, we will fight come Sunday and the law will decide for those who are ready to violate the constitution amongst the current board members,” Mukaronda said.
Former Zimbabwe Karate Union president Rugwete said as much as he was unhappy with the decision by the outgoing board members to cast their votes, he was still confident of romping to victory.
“I think I have done enough to educate the electorate on what I believe in and my values. At this stage it’s pretty much about waiting, the hard work has been done, it’s now time to vote,” he said.
“We have engaged the (ZOC) board through their president, he has explained what he explained and there is very little I can do to stop them from voting.
”So I have prepared knowing they will vote. I should not waste more time on this issue, I have to prepare.”
Other posts nominees:
Two vice-presidents: Kirsty Coventry, Thabani Gonye, Martin Kweza, Frederick Ndlovu.
Treasurer: Cleopas Nyangoni, Godfrey Sunguro.
Women: Leticia Chipandu, Kirsty Coventry.
Board members: Leticia Chipandu, Addison Chiware, Kirsty Coventry, Rick Fulton, Custom Kachambwa, Martin Kweza, Titus Madzingo, Shinga Magede, Lovemore Malianga, Stonard Mapfumo, Tapiwa Masinire, Stephen Mudawarima, Charles Mukaronda, Innocent Mukeredzi, Frederick Ndlovu, Celso Ribeiro, Joe Rugwete, Tendai Tagara.