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FAZ councillors must save football

THE current impasse in the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) must be addressed and resolved for the benefit of all Zambians. The FAZ executive has failed to demonstrate leadership.
It seems to have abandoned its objective to manage football affairs on behalf of the 14 million Zambians. The beautiful game of football has now been turned into a battlefield to outmuscle and outgun each other.
All this has largely been between two members who are at the helm of the association – the president, Andrew Kamanga and his deputy Richard Kazala. The executive is at crossroads and the impact is waiting to explode.
The two leaders have kept on this track at the expense of the game. Even the free advice of the FAZ Patron, His Excellency the President Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has not been heeded. This demonstrates that the two are incompatible to work for a common purpose and must be impeached for the good of the game if the wrangling is not resolved.
For the benefit of all Zambians, I take this opportunity to give a summary of how the two leaders who were known to campaign from two divergent backgrounds found themselves together.
Following the decision by Kalusha Bwalya to openly declare his preference for Pivoty Simwanza for vice presidency, to Richard Kazala hours before the electoral Annual General Meeting held on 19 March 2016, at Moba Hotel in Kitwe, the latter reacted with a last-minute decision to prop Kamanga for presidency.
Kazala, who had built a strong support base with councillors was not ready to go without a fight and was able to shift his command to Kamanga at the expense of Kalusha.
With that alliance, Kamanga obtained 163 votes against 159 for Kalusha and dislodged him for Presidency.
With that move, Kamanga went into FAZ without many of the candidates he had campaigned with. In short, Kamanga had held a very slim chance to dislodge Kalusha if it was not for the alliance.
In my opinion, this partnership was not well researched and marked the beginning of failure by Kamanga to command the executive with a clear vision he had campaigned on and leverage his management authority with common purpose and has led to the bickering we have been subjected to.
Currently, Kamanga has slapped his vice-president with the 12 charges and committee member Blackwell Siwale with six, and awaits the decision of the FAZ Council to ratify the suspension with possible expulsion of the two.
This is one opportunity for Kamanga to leverage his power through co-option of new members of his choice.
He could have used the opportunity to demand more slots in the executive when Kazala approached him for the alliance but maybe failed to see the need at the time. Of course, he had some clever administrators at his disposal.
The expulsion of the two may work to his advantage but has potential to boomerang with great impact if Kazala summons his smart election strategies which helped him to literally install Kamanga to the throne. It is evident that Kazala still commands his support base and can easily pull a huge surprise to the bewilderment of all.
As concerned football administrators, we have a duty to ensure that the game does not suffer loss of confidence and support from all concerned stakeholders, government, sponsors, coaches, players and fans.
We have a duty to run football beyond what seems to be personal objectives. Nobody has the monopoly of power. In this regard, I wish to appeal to the councillors to use their vested powers beyond individual interests. If the two cannot reconcile ahead of the AGM, they should both exit the face of football through impeachment.
I say this because ramifications that lie ahead if the call to expel Kazala and Siwale succeeds are too ghastly to contemplate. A fierce battle awaits such a result and it shall be to the detriment of the game.
Kamanga could suffer the same fate if the call boomerangs into his face. The relationship has now turned into that of cat and mouse and is beyond redemption.
We must not allow such a situation to happen. The division that had always characterised the camps ever since Kamanga came to the fore to unseat Kalusha is more entrenched now. This must be broken for the good of the game and our country.
In this regard, therefore, I wish to call upon councillors to use their powers vested in Article 61(ii) and (iv) of the FAZ constitution to sort out the mess and nominate two experienced administrators to chart a rebranded image, direction and focus for success as President and Vice-President.
The two leaders must not have served in the association before and must have no partisan following which can compromise their positions.
Names can be proposed for scrutiny and action devoid of witch-hunting, mudslinging, hatred, slander, and unsubstantiated innuendos. Such leaders are many and can change the ugly face that has been created in our game.
Our game is deeply polarised and it is high time we picked neutral leaders to lead FAZ.
We are tired of this negative energy and we need to support our game in unity and avoid this extreme division which has built up for the last 10 years and to advance to the next level with new leaders at the helm.
The author is a football administrator and a former FAZ executive committee member.