Soccer Africa

Zimbabwe: Mutasa Hints At Zifa Governance Turbulence

ZIFA Normalisation Committee (NC) chairman, Lincoln Mutasa has hinted at some discomfort in their working relationship with the FIFA head of development programmes in Africa, Solomon Mudege amid claims he is using the secretariat to keep the interim local football leadership in check.

Initially, Mutasa’s team was supposed to end their tenure on June 30 with the installation of a substantive Zifa board but it now looks like they will be around for at least the remainder of 2024 as the election process has not yet started.

It has been claimed that Mudege is using the Zifa chief executive, also known as general secretary, Yvonne Mapika-Manwa, and Fifa Forward manager, Kudzi Chitima, to micro-manage Zimbabwean football ahead of the Zifa NC appointed in July last year.

In an interview on the Lovemore Banda Live YouTube channel on Thursday, Mutasa suggested they were working well with Mudege, but in highlighting areas of concern, it revealed serious issues that underline friction between the Zifa NC and him. Mutasa subtly revealed that there have been occasions where both Mapika-Manwa and Chitima carry out assignments, believed to have been sanctioned or commissioned by Mudege, without informing the Zifa NC. In a meeting held in France early this year, Mudege told the Zifa NC that Fifa will interact with the national association through Mapika-Manwa and NOT Mutasa’s five-member interim leadership.

Are you happy with the working relationship within the Zifa NC?

I am extremely happy with the NC, as I mentioned, there were five strangers who came together and we quickly bonded, and it’s really from that bond that we can help each other. Each one has different strengths.

We quickly realised from Day One that no one has a monopoly of knowledge and we needed each other and that’s how we have worked with that spirit.

Are there factions in the Zifa NC?

There are five individuals but I would not say we are factions in the sense that we all have the same mandate that we are trying to fulfil and we all have been working very closely to achieve those mandates. I might not know what people do after dark but we are working together.

Yes, within the secretariat and the greater Zifa there may have been people with different interests or wanting to serve different masters. But I wouldn’t say that is predominantly within the NC, no.

Is your committee happy with the work of Fifa Forward manager, Kudzi Chitima and chief executive officer, Yvonne Mapika-Manwa?

Kudzi is a very good worker, that I can tell you. He is an enthusiastic young man and he covers a lot of ground. The only issue that we have is once he gets involved, he sometimes forgets to inform his superiors to say “Look, this is what I am doing” and that’s the only thing that the NC is concerned about that they want him to report back to them. But he is an exceptional worker and a very nice character.

Similarly the GS (general secretary, also known as chief executive), she is also a very capable person but, again she came in midway through our tenure, I think it was November, time that she joined us and at that stage she just jumped into the middle of the journey.

What now happens is when you have the general secretary, she is the one who communicates with Fifa, with the outside bodies and that could also have caused some friction because she came very enthusiastically and started running with that and one or two members of the NC might have felt that they may have been overlooked. But it’s just a matter of teething problems and adjusting as people start to work together.

 Is ZIFA NC happy with the interface between the FIFA head of development programmes in Africa, Solo-mon Mudege, and Chitima and Mapika-Manwa?

For us, we were in Paris I think in January, February this year where we met up with the NC and the Fifa grouping and there it was made very clear by Mr Mudege that the communication with Zifa is not going to be with the NC but with madam Manwa.

So for us, at least with me, it was very clear that this is going to be the channel of communication. So we have no problem with that and we believe, going forward, this will also set the pace with the incoming Zifa board that they will always talk through the general secretary and the GS will communicate with the Fifa colleagues.

“It’s just a matter of making sure that what we want is, when the GS speaks to Fifa, have we been informed as the NC, has the executive committee been informed that this is the decision we are taking and we are moving forward. This to me is just a governance issue, communication issue which once fully understood I think will help the organisation going forward.”