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All Eyes Glued on Weekend Zifa Polls

The Zifa Council is under heavy scrutiny in Saturday's Zifa presidential elections following corruption that has dogged past polls.

The elections will be the first real big test for Zimbabwean football democracy as all eyes will be on the conduction of the polls.

The polls come after the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sport, Arts and Culture was told of the widespread corruption that has characterized past Zifa elections.

It has been argued that since 1980, Zifa only had proper elections before and during the era of the late Nelson Chirwa and never since then has the football controlling body held credible elections.

Instead, the football family has been accused of falling prey to the habit of choosing candidates on the basis of who is allegedly paying more while competent candidates capable of bringing fresh life into football have been sidelined and consigned to oblivion.

From Trevor Carelse Juul in 1992 and to Cuthbert Dube in 2010 via the likes of Leo Mugabe, Vincent Pamire, Wellington Nyatanga and Rafik Khan, the story of alleged vote buying has persisted.

With incumbent Cuthbert Dube, Harare City chairman Leslie Gwindi, Zifa board member marketing Nigel Munyati and former Zifa chairman Trevor Carelse Juul lining up for the Zifa presidency, Zifa councillors have been urged to abandon the money syndrome and choose the right man for the game of football.

Highlanders supporter Daniel Chitimbe says football will be the loser should the Zifa councillors repeat the old system.

The Zifa Council which is drawn from members within all the structures of the Zimbabwe Football Association elects the Zifa board. In the past, the Zifa Council had 36 members but they have been increased to 58 with the PSL now having 16 votes instead of six.

Former Premier Soccer League Chief Executive Officer, Chris Sambo, says as long as some of the old influential Zifa Council members are still part of the electoral process, the problems that have dogged previous Zifa elections will remain.

Football analyst Edmore Makombe says the councillors should for the first time come clean and do the right thing.

There is no doubt that Zifa needs a man who can completely change the tainted image of the association. Someone who can declare his principles while keeping his feet on the ground.

National teams do not have funding while the Zifa Cup which was contested for by all football teams in the country from district level to the Premiership has long gone after Castle Lager withdrew their sponsorship.

So, there is a need for a man who can convince the corporate world to bankroll all national teams and also come up with ideas on how the more than $5 million Zifa debt can be settled.

Chitimbe says most of the past Zifa presidents have promised much but delivered nothing, adding that the coming Zifa president has to honour his promises.

Surprisingly, none of those former footballers who have been raising their voices from behind the scenes has declared his interest to challenge for the biggest job in Zimbabwean football.

Saturday's winning candidate will have the honour of travelling to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup finals where he will attend the Fifa Congress that will precede the start of the World Cup.

With that in mind, it is now up to the football family to elect a man who can go and convince Fifa that Zimbabwean football deserves funding.