Sport

State House steps in to resolve FAZ impasse

KAMANGA

DIANA CHIPEPO
Lusaka

AFTER such a frantic day which saw letters flying, court cases being withdrawn and finally a meeting to try and resolve the impasse that has rocked Zambian football since the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) elections became the dominant theme, you could borrow the title of William Shakespeare’s play All’s Well That Ends Well.
The play, considered one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” – posing complex ethical dilemmas that require more than typically simple solutions – in a way epitomises the saga that Zambian football has found itself in, in the last few months.
Although nothing yet has been officially announced, the signs are looking good and football fans can cheer to that.
Unlike in Shakespeare’s plays Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar where the young lovers and Brutus and Cassius kill themselves, Zambian football yesterday tried to save itself from self-harm almost at the last minute.
The threat of a ban – if it genuinely existed – by world soccer governing body FIFA was a mere 24 hours away when the warring parties signed what in international diplomacy could be referred to as a peace accord.
President Edgar Lungu, who by virtue of his position is the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) patron, sent his special assistant for press and public relations, Isaac Chipampe, who is also an avid soccer fan, together with the Presidential Affairs Minister, Freedom Sikazwe, to a meeting at Government Complex.
The meeting, called by the Government, was meant to find some common ground in what is simply a dysfunctional football family.
“Honourable Sikazwe chaired the meeting. The reason is that the President is the patron of FAZ and because of that he has interest in the sport,” Chipampe said after the two-hour meeting that started at 16:00 hours.
“Apart from that he is also the republican President, so he knows that it is a national sport and if there’s disharmony in the sport it means Zambian people will not be happy because football is the number one sport, so he has to be interested in what is happening in football.”
Chipampe said the President’s interest in what is happening should not be mistaken for interference.
“He has to be interested in what is happening in football, not to interfere, but to just ensure that there is harmony in the sport, so that is why we were sent,” he said.
“He wants to help the issues resolved. As you know, there’s an ultimatum which elapses tomorrow. The meeting was held in a true spirit of sportsmanship.”
The meeting, which was called following a 10-day ultimatum FIFA gave FAZ to resolve the wrangles or face sanctions, was adjourned to today, with Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development Emmanuel Mulenga expected to give a full report this afternoon.
The key issue that came out of the meeting was that the electoral process will only resume after FIFA’s guidance and that FAZ should sign the consent judgment which was earlier served by lawyers from the aggrieved parties.
The Minis try of Youth, Sport and Child Development was represented by Mulenga, Permanent Secretary Joe Kapembwa and director of sport John Zulu, with the National Sports Council of Zambia (NSCZ) chairman Patrick Mutimushi and acting general secretary Raphael Mulenga also in attendance. FAZ was represented by president Andrew Kamanga, vice-president Rix Mweemba and general secretary Adrian Kashala, while the aggrieved parties were represented by lawyer Gilbert Phiri.
Despite the meeting seemingly ending on a progressive note, there was a near punch-up as tempers flared, with Mweemba and Kashala threatening lawyer Phiri.
“I am a very dangerous man and I can teach you a lesson. You are very young,” Mweemba said while Kashala also lamented how aggrieved he is to lose his Zambia Police job. “I lost my job and you think I am happy. I have children.”
Hopefully, that is not what the final outcome will look like.
Otherwise, it will be just as Shakespeare said – I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.






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