Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
"WHEN two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,” so goes the age-old dictum.
But this is not referring to the real elephants in the jungle. In this context, the aphorism points to the war of words between Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Andrew Kamanga and seasoned football administrator Simataa Simataa.
Indeed, while the two are feuding in the football arena, fans are wondering where the game of soccer is heading to.
In the run-up to the March 2016 FAZ elective annual general meeting, Andrew Kamanga was hand in glove with Simataa Simataa.
Nobody in his or her wildest dreams ever imagined that the two, who collectively shared their vision for Zambian football, would one day cross paths.
However, the two, who were like Siamese twins before the ouster of their common ‘enemy’, Kalusha Bwalya, can now almost not see each other eye to eye.
Mr Kamanga is now FAZ president while Mr Simataa is heading a faction at City of Lusaka Football Club.
The bad blood between the two is difficult to understand and has thrown the soccer fraternity in limbo.
So sour is the relationship between the two that it appears their differences are irreconcilable.
The diatribe between the two giants has left many wondering why they cannot dialogue as opposed to washing their dirty linen in public.
Mr Simataa feels Mr Kamanga is fanning the stand-off at Woodlands Stadium where two rival factions are claiming legitimacy.
This follows Mr Kamanga’s donation of K10,000 to the Justin Zulu-led faction.
FAZ communications manager Desmond Katongo issued a statement in which he clarified Mr Kamanga’s support to City.
Mr Katongo said Mr Kamanga had traditionally supported City and the latest K10,000 donation was not sinister.
Former Mufulira Wanderers Supporters Society president Wesley Mutembo is disappointed with the turn of events between Mr Kamanga and Mr Simataa.
“The spat between the two prominent soccer administrators is retrogressive to the Zambian game. It’s purely a case of good friendship gone bad,” Mr Mutembo said.
Mr Mutembo says the bad blood between the two is being allowed to compromise the professionalism of both comrades.
“There was no need for the FAZ president to make reference to the failed action to float [Mr] Simataa as general secretary using the official letterhead of the association. All he needed to do was respond to the allegation levelled against him by [Mr] Simataa,” he said.
On the other hand, he feels Mr Simataa should have made adequate research on the motive of Mr Kamanga’s financial assistance to City before going ballistic about it.
“Such allegations are grave and require evidence in the event of litigation by the accused. You will remember that [Mr] Kamanga once assisted Mufulira Wanderers Football Club during a fundraising dinner in July 2017. Should that be taken to be a bribe as well?” Mr Mutembo asked.
He feels the seemingly bad blood between the two prominent administrators is as a result of a lack of communication between them.
“They seem to have fallen out with each other for some misunderstanding. All they need to do is engage one another and talk; Just the two of them.
Our football has serious issues to be dealt with. Our clubs are lagging behind in club licensing. The FA has a dysfunctional secretariat which requires some form of streamlining, and the league needs improved sponsorship plus cup tournaments,” Mr Mutembo said
He said the last thing the soccer fraternity needs is spending its energies on trivial matters, urging the two gentlemen to man up.
Seriously, there is need for Mr Kamanga and Mr Simataa to reconcile for the good of the game.
This is the time former FAZ presidents such as Teddy Mulonga and other sports luminaries like Mr Maxwell Sichula should facilitate dialogue between the two and help iron out their differences.
Both need each other for the benefit of the beautiful game.
Let maturity carry the day. There should be no winner and loser between the two. Instead, football should be the ultimate winner.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.