Normalisation Committee next? Zimbabwe hopeful of imminent return to international football after FIFA visit

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Now that the FIFA delegation has come, and probably gone, the rumour mill is swelling with possible outcomes of the meetings they held with the government.

That there are group pictures of the two parties in the public domain has led many avid followers of local football to believe that FIFA has finally decided to readmit Zimbabwe after a 17-month suspension from international football.

It’s uncharacteristic of these global sporting federations to compromise, looking at the International Cricket Council’s reaction to the suspension of Zimbabwe Cricket officials by the government in 2019. The government had no option but to reinstate the fired persons.

They normally frown upon third party interference.

But FIFA has seemingly made an exception. Why? Maybe they learnt something unique about the Zimbabwe case during their fact finding mission in April.

FIFA’s suspension of the former secretary general of the referees committee, Obert Zhoya, over allegations of sexually harassing female referees also suggests that Zurich might actually want to get rid of the board that let him get away with it give Zimbabwe a chance.

Normalisation Committee?
With strong indications that the suspended trio of Felton Kamambo, Philemon Machana, and Briton Malandule are not going to be reinstated, signs are pointing to an interim governance structure to pave way for elections.

There are arguments that the term of the suspended executive committee ended in December 2022.

Therefore, reinstating them is being treated as a transgression of the Zimbabwe Football Association’s (ZIFA) constitution. Never mind that suspending them was also not the legal way of removing them from office.

Who will be in the normalisation committee?
Rumour has it that Nigel Chanakira has been picked to lead the committee which will oversee the operations of ZIFA for 18 months.

Administrator and FIFA master alumni Sikhumbuzo Ndebele is also being linked with a role in the committee. So is former Mighty Warriors player and coach Rosemary Mugadza.

Surprise surprise!
Joseph Mamutse is reportedly bouncing back as the Chief Executive Officer. Mamutse served in the same position under the presidencies of Phillip Chiyangwa and Felton Kamambo.

He was suspended by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) in November 2020. SRC lifted his suspension in 2022 but he refused to report for work in solidarity with his suspended bosses, Kamambo and Machana.

Restructuring of the secretariat?
After seeing his subordinates declining to take orders from him in November 2021 when the Kamambo-led executive committee was suspended, Mamutse will most likely make changes if he returns. It will be interesting to see how he will handle the situation considering that the secretariat is already lean in comparison to other football associations.

What now for serving councilors?
Cooperation between FIFA and the government should extremely worry most of the serving councillors.

By the time the normalisation committee is done with its work, most of them will be ineligible to stand for reelection.

SRC must have agreed to this deal only after assurances from FIFA that the ZIFA constitution and electoral code will be amended to eliminate illiterate administrators and career councilors.

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