Zambian football seemed to have been on a right path. Football is Zambia’s number one mass sport.
A five year investment worth K5billion in the Zambia’s Premier League, by mining giants, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) seemed to have parried the perennial fears that the league could suffer failure of collapsing under a weight of debts.
A host of other foreign financial deals from sports companies, mobile operators and a television deal from sports premier channel, Super Sport seemed to have given hope to many that Zambian football will shine again at the international scene.
In 2009, President Rupiah Banda, an ardent soccer fan and past football administrator decided to use his office to raise the profile of Zambian Football by raising financial support among private companies to pay for some of the exorbitant costs of running football such as the cost of paying for the wages of foreign coaches and his assistants.
But this is not to be.
Internal wrangling, scuffles, resignations and match boycotts have hit the beleaguered Football Association of Zambia (FAZ).
What has led to this crisis? Who are the players in these matters? What are the forces behind this power play? Will FAZ President, Kalushya Bwalya survive this coordinated and orchestrated onslaught?
Will he call the extraordinary General Conference to resolve the crisis? Will he weather the storm until the scheduled Annual General Meeting (AGM) next year due in March 2011? How come the forces behind a petition to call for an EGM have failed to garner a two third majority as required by the Constitution?
How long will this paralysis last?
THE FORCES BEHIND THE CRISIS.
As FAZ President, Kalusha Bwalya has stated that FAZ has no crisis but has individuals fomenting trouble for their own selfish reasons. He has urged those calling for an EGM to forward their request to his secretariat so that their concerns can form part of the agenda at the upcoming Annual general Meeting in March 2011. He has stated that those challenging his decision to fill up and co-opt new members to replace those that had voluntarily resigned from FAZ, were pursuing a selfish agenda.
He stated that FIFA had sanctioned his decision to co-opt new members through their letter dated 7th October 2010. In this letter, Thierry Regenass, Director of member associations, FIFA stated that; “….it is important to inform the authorities that it is not up to them (NSCZ) to determine the validity of your decisions since FIFA is very strict in terms of non-interference by any third party in the internal matters of its member associations.”
The letter further states that: “… we consider that you and the members of the FAZ Executive committee have been duly elected for a term of four years. If some of your members are unhappy with the current situation, they have to act according to the current FAZ statutes…”.
FIFA further buttressed its position in a letter written to FAZ on 15th October 2010. This time the letter was signed by FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke; “…FIFA is very strict in terms of non-interference and any unilateral intervention of the said authorities would be considered as such and brought before the highest FIFA authorities in order to take sanction which would have been an adverse effect on the Zambian football and its development.
We would like to underline once more that if some of the FAZ members are unhappy with the current situation, they must act according to the current FAZ statutes. They can wait the next annual Council to express their disgruntlement or wait the next elective year Council due to take place in a year and half to elect a new board.”
Zambia’s one time football hero and icon, Kalusha is a household name. His hat trick score at the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea against football giants Italy earned him a place in history when the Confederation of Africa football (CAF) selected him as Africa footballer-of-the- year. He had international football stints in Holland, Belgium and Mexico.
His life after football has been a roller coaster. His stint as a coach ended in failure. When he was player and coach for Zambia, he also became Vice-President for FAZ. He ignored the calls for him to resign one position. He had running battles with FAZ president Teddy Mulonga which culminated in Kalushya contesting the regional position of SAFA which Mulonga eyed.
Since assuming the FAZ Presidency, Kalushya has had a tumultuous leadership with criticism over everything he does from his stay at Pamodzi Hotel to his residence in Johannesburg, South Africa. Another former FAZ president and fellow football administrator Simataa Simataa has given Kalushya a torrid time which has helped culminate in this crisis.
Although Kalushya is credited with utilizing his international and FIFA connections to bring a healthy balance in the books of FAZ and financial deals that have lifted the spirit of football in Zambia, he seems to have run foul not just with perpetual critics but forces high up.
A fierce and consistent critic of FAZ, Simata has been accused of derailing the good fortunes of football. He has held himself up as the unofficial opposition of subsequent FAZ executives.
Simataa once became FAZ President and shortly resigned in 1994.
The current crisis seems to have stemmed from the issues Simataa has raised over the last few months against Kalushya Bwalya. It’s not the first time that Simataa has troubled FAZ leadership. In 2004, he demanded that the newly elected FAZ executive of Teddy Mulonga, Andre Mtine, George Kasengele, and Henshel Chitembeye vacate their offices because of their involvement in the financial misappropriation of FAZ funds in 1998.
He applied to the FAZ Appeals Committee which threw his application away. He proceeded to appeal to the National Sports council (NSCZ). The Council also threw out his petition stating that the 1998 Teddy Mulonga executive was reinstated by James Luhana.
In an effort to pacify the quarrelsome Simataa, the Mulonga executive appointed the Amakumbi Chief as coach for the under 17 and 23. He later resigned from both positions.
Recently his sustained criticism of Kalushya and FAZ was generally ignored with people thinking that Simataa was pursuing a PF agenda. Simata is a member of the PF central Committee.
When Kalushya is alleged to have slapped Post reporter Augustine Mukoka at a FIFA function in Cape town, South Africa in December 2009, Simataa and another veteran sports administrator, Lukson Kazabu were on quick hand to condemn Kalusha for his “thuggery” and “shameful” behavior.
In February 2010, FAZ threatened to discipline the Amamkumbi proprietor for his press outburst, condemnations and statements against the Kalusha Bwalya led executive.
He retorted; “I want to know whether they will punish me for the praises on Kalusha too?” he accused Eric Mwanza who had issued the terse warning against him of covering up corruption at FAZ house. He issued his customary threat to expose malfeasance. He stated that the issues he speaks against, he could never have gotten away, if he they had been committed by him. He issued the venom clearly directed at Kalusha Bwalya and others;
“What if I was the one selling complimentary 2006 world cup tickets in Germany? What if I am the one who forged Emmanuel Mayuka’s signature in his transfer to Israel? What if I was the one who physically abused a journalist in South Africa?”
Imagine if I was the one who bungled the London trip? Imagine if I was the one who had travelled to Iran to collect appearance match fees without asking Iran Federation bothering about audit requirements”.
The FAZ Executive Committee promptly suspended him.
These allegations have formed the foundation of Simataa’s campaign against Kalusha. For once he seems to have gathered a seemingly unstoppable storm against Kalushya.
He got support from an unlikely source. Sunday Nkonde SC.
The City of Lusaka Football Club Chief and former Solicitor General “illegally” reversed Kalusha’s disciplinary action against Simataa terming it illegal.
He stated that the action by Executive Committee was illegal as it abrogated the Constitution. Nkonde who was FAZ Disciplinary Committee Chairperson stated that: “the powers of the FAZ Executive Committee are found in Article 27 (6). He stated that the powers of the executive Committee do not extend to suspending an official or disciplinary measure. He stated that such action were a preserve of judicial bodies of FAZ such as his Committee and the Appeals Committee.”
The action by Nkonde plunged FAZ into another crisis that resulted into his eventual resignation.
A veteran administrator, former FAZ President and rival to Kalusha Bwalya, Mulonga has found himself in an enviable position. He is Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development. The Ministry literally runs football and government funding for the national team goes through this Ministry.
Many are asking if he is a forceful invisible-hand that has given credence to Simataa’s campaign. He is among certain government officials that are allegedly coordinating the rebellion by defense and parastatal clubs rising against the Kalusha led administration until such a time that an Extraordinary General Conference is called.
WHAT IS THE CRISIS?
The lowest point of this crisis came when FAZ Vice-President, Emmanuel Munaile resigned his position and joined committee members Pivoty Simwanza, Violet Bwalya and Henschel Chitembeye. The four resigned citing lack of teamwork and consensus in FAZ.
Munaile is an Independent Member of Parliament for Malole Constituency in Kasama.
The action was well thought-out and was designed to paralyse the work of the remaining members of the committee as a quorum would not be formed to transact FAZ business.
Kalusha quickly co-opted new members. These were Zambia Football Coaches Association (ZAFCA) General Secretary, Patrick Kangwa, Elijah Chileshe from Mining Rangers, Kelvin Mutafu from Forest Rangers and Happy Munkondya from Lime Hotspurs.
Kalusha seemed to have under estimated the depth of the rebellion. Kangwa immediately refused to take up the appointment.
After a few weeks, Happy Munkondya also withdrew quietly citing pressure from Ndola lime Board member, Teddy Mulonga!
Among the committee members that resigned, FAZ was querying them on the money they owed the association.
Pivoty Simwanza was being investigated for theft of US$9000.00. Simwanza was cited by the Audit Report dated 11th march 2006, and the FAZ Council resolved that the matter be investigated further. Simwanza the money meant for a raffle vehicle prize claimed the money was lost in South Africa but tendered no police report or any documents to support his assertions.
Munaile also never accounted for money meant for women football jerseys and despite numerous reminders to Simwanza and Munaile, the audit querries went unanswered.
Another member of the FAZ adhoc committee, the FAZ Premier League Organising Committee (PLOC), Kephas Katongo has added a new dimension to the crisis.
FAZ decided to enquire into the possibility of forming a professional league run by an independent but wing of FAZ hence the committee. Although the body is illegal, Katongo has decided to hijack this process and claimed that he is the chairman of the body is calling the Zambia Premier League. Katongo has been at the forefront of instigating match boycotts of premier league games.
The Referee association of Zambia has also joined in the match boycotts despite the FIFA Statutes Article 13 (e) that makes referees subject to FAZ. FAZ has since formed the Referee Desk at the secretariat that directs the activities of the Referees.
ZAMBIA’S FRIENDLY GAMES
There are constant allegations that FAZ Executive Committee members and Kalushya Bwalya profit from these games. The scrutiny of documents at FAZ show that the numerous friendly the Zambia National Team has played show that foreign teams actually pay for accommodation, 30 air tickets, Five Star Accommodation and local transport. Kalushya’s critics claim that money is paid on the side. But documents and contracts signed show the above scenario.
EMMANUEL MBOLA SAGA
Simataa raised the “scandal” of Emmanuel Mbola.
Mbola was the youngest player at the 2010 Orange Africa Cup of Nations. He moved to TP Mazembe. Mbola travelled with his father to Lubumbashi and signed a contract that was deemed scandalous. The contract entitled Mbola to a monthly income of US$1000.00 and a rented flat.
When the reports hit the media it was deemed a scandal and critics implicated Kalushya Bwalya in the saga. However FIFA rescued the situation and stated that the move by Mbola to TP Mazembe was regular as he was accompanied by his guardians. FIFA directed that FAZ issues an International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
Mbola had received numerous interests from Tottenum Hotspurs, West Ham, Birmingham City and Juventus, with local and international scouts both licensed and unlicensed, scrambling for the talented youngster’s signature.
THE CALLS FOR AN EXTRA-ORDINARY CONFERENCE.
FAZ is scheduled to have its Annual General Conference in March 2011. However, the resignation of the four members of the Executive Committee members has heightened the call for an immediate Conference. Although, FAZ President Kalushya Bwalya, co-opted new members, his critics claim that the decisions made were illegal as a “quorum” was not formed to make such decisions.
Kalushya has insisted that his decision were legal as the FAZ constitution empowers hi and the remaining members to make such decisions; Kalushya insists that as FAZ President he has outlined powers.
He has asked petitioners who have failed to raise 120 signatures a two-third majority required to force an EGM from outside. He has requested petitioners to file the concerns to the Secretariat so that these can be included in the agenda of the upcoming conference in March 2011.
Following their failure to garner the 120 signatures required to force an EGM, the petitioners cause has been bolstered by a hidden force that has heightened the crisis. The calls to deem Kalushya Bwalya’s executive as “illegal” was orchestrated by calls to secretaries of defense forces football club that eventually issued a terse statement against the new FAZ executive. This rendered credibility to the calls for an EGM.
How this matter is handled will determine the course of football in this country. Will Kalushya Bwalya buckle at the pressure brought to bear against his leadership? Will the various forces that have congregated against his leadership succeed in hounding him out of FAZ? Will government do something “stupid” that will attract wrath from FIFA?
With a week to go before the premier league closes for the season, will FAZ stand the pressure till then?
President Rupiah Banda has publicly stated that government will not interfere with the crisis. He urged the football fraternity to resolve the crisis. He stated that FAZ was an autonomous body and FAZ will therefore not interfere in the wrangles.
But if this is the clear position by President Rupiah Banda, are there people using his name to orchestrate this crisis? The answer seems to be yes. Those very close to his heart.
This whole crisis is not about football or doesn’t seem to benefit the actual game of football but seemed to stem from the selfish political and financial interests associated with football. As mass sport, it attracts political interest for its potential to bring crowds. While it attracts financial interests from vultures hovering above to take a bite at FAZ’s swelling annual income of over K15billion.