The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) has come under heavy criticism for introducing an “election fee” to be paid by candidates contesting for the organisation’s top post in the 2018 elections pencilled for December.
The football mother body released the schedule of fees with the association’s presidential election fees increased from $5 000 to $5 500 contrary to developments in other organisations including the international football body FIFA that do not demand money from contestants.
Candidates are also parting with an additional $200 for the nomination form to run for any post in the National Executive Committee.
To stand for the ZIFA vice-presidency, one is required to part with $4 000 whilst $3 000 is for one to become a ZIFA board member.
This follows FIFA’s instruction that the Phillip Chiyangwa-led executive committee’s term of office had expired in March despite clinging to power.
Chiyangwa was arguing that, he was entitled to a full four-year term from the date he assumed office in December 2015 following the departure of Cuthbert Dube midway through his term.
However, the election fee has raised eyebrows.
Despite being exorbitant figures, debate among sports followers is that: “Is it legal to charge for football elections?”
In South Africa, no fees are required for any candidate to run for football office. South African Football Association is fresh from elections where president Danny Jordan, was elected unopposed for a second five-year term in May after former referee Ace Ngcobo withdrew from the race.
Head of communications at SAFA Dominic Chimhavi, told Business Weekly that it is against football rules and regulations to commercialise elections.
“It is against football rules to charge any fee. At SAFA, we don’t charge a single cent to anyone seeking office within football structures. It is the candidate’s popularity and meeting all requirements to run for an office that matters,” Chimhavi explained.
Switzerland’s Gianni Infantino, who was elected as the new president of FIFA in February last year didn’t need to pay any election fees.
The multi-million dollar question is: Who is charging the fees in Zimbabwe? Who is benefiting?
The Zifa executive committee operated with five members from the onset, following the death of Edzai Kasinauyo.
Two of ZIFA’s executive committee members, Piraishe Mabhena and Felton Kamambo, resigned in March this year.
Chiyangwa, who is also Cosafa president and is campaigning for a Member of Parliament seat in Zvimba, has been running the association together with vice-president Omega Sibanda and board member finance Philemon Machana.
The women football and Premier Soccer League (PSL) and seats in the board, were unoccupied.
Calls were made by candidates in the previous election that the $5 000 requirement was too much, but those in authority have decided to increase the fees.
Is it not a matter of keeping competitors out of the race, asked other observers?
Chiyangwa said his hands were clean and that he also has an obligations to follow and pay the required amount.
“This is the very amount I paid in 2015 when I wanted to campaign, before I was even the president. This is governed as a standard and I am also forced to comply. Nothing has changed. I don’t see the reason why people are making too much noise about it. Some are even blaming me yet I am not part of the council that peg these fees. Inini ndiri kutorohwawo mari,” he said.
Chiyangwa added: “Mind you there are people who handle these elections. This is a national election and will surely involve costs. These people must be paid and procedures must be followed.”
But according to ZIFA constitution, it is the Assembly seated as Congress that set the fees in liaison with SRC.
Fees are pegged at the Congress before the Electoral Committee begins work.
A sports analyst who refused to be named, said this current practice is illegal and a shame to football followers.
“Fees are pegged before the electoral committee begins works. So in the absence of Congress to set the fees, nobody can legally do that.
“And it is the duty of the election committee to run elections, receiving and receipting the agreed fees using a separate account run by them to ensure transparency and corporate morality. In this case, no congress was held and we do not have an election committee. It is football rot and lot has to be done,” he said.
Ironically, only $50 is needed as nomination fees for one to contest as a Member of Parliament in Zimbabwe whilst the Presidential fee is pegged at $1 000.