Former Warriors captain Benjani Mwaruwari has settled for the Zifa vice-president post because of age restrictions.
He will battle it out with three other heavyweights — ex-FC Platinum president Nathan Shoko, former Zifa vice-president and Bulawayo businessman Omega Sibanda and Jabulani Nkomo, son of the late former Vice-President of Zimbabwe, John Nkomo.
Mwaruwari (38) had indicated his willingness to contest the biggest job in Zimbabwean football, but it has emerged he is ineligible for the Zifa presidency because of the age limit.
According to the Zifa constitution, aspiring presidential candidates should be at least 40 years old.
Based on that constitutional technicality, Mwaruwari, who had picked up two nomination forms at the Zifa offices yesterday, now targets the number two position, which has no age limit.
Constitutional requirements that one should have served in an administrative post for at least five years could also hinder Mwaruwari’s bid to contest in the December 5 election.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela could not confirm particular names of people that had bought forms by yesterday.
He, however, said quite a number had picked up forms for various positions.
“What I can confirm is that a number of aspiring candidates have picked up forms for various positions. Nominations close on Thursday (tomorrow), with the vetting of the candidates set for Saturday,” Gwesela said.
Also in the race for the post of board members are Warriors team manager Shariff Mussa and retired referee Wilfred Mukuna.
The entry of the duo, however, complicates the strategy of regional chairpersons who had formed an alliance where they agreed that they should contest the positions of board members.
Informed sources said regional chairpersons met in Harare at the weekend where they discussed the candidates they wanted to back at the elections to choose a new leadership to take over from the Cuthbert Dube administration, which was booted out last month.
It is said Shoko’s name was discussed after he indicated his willingness to contest.
The sources said since Sibanda had also indicated his willingness to bounce back as the number two in the mother body, they couldn’t agree on which candidate to back come election day.
While the regions had no problem endorsing Harare businessman Phillip Chiyangwa, who has already hit the ground running in his bid to land the biggest job in Zimbabwean football, they were split between Shoko and Sibanda.
In the end, the matter was put to vote and Shoko was more popular than Sibanda.
However, there was a strong feeling from the regional chairpersons that Sibanda should have been backed since he has been fighting “in the trenches for a long time” and was one of the key figures alongside former board member for finance Bernard Gwarada who were instrumental in the vote of no-confidence passed on ex-Zifa president Dube on October 3.
“There was no consensus on the aspiring two vice-presidents Nathan Shoko and Omega Sibanda. Some felt that Sibanda should be backed since he has been in the trenches for a long time and was a key figure in the expulsion of Dube. The matter was then put to a vote and Shoko won with eight votes, while Sibanda polled six votes. It was then agreed that the two should go out and campaign for themselves,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.
Chiyangwa has said Sibanda will be his running mate.
The sources added that it was also agreed by the regions at the same meeting that regional chairpersons should contest for the post of board members.
They agreed that the 16 delegates from the regions should all vote for the four chairpersons to boost their chances of claiming places in the board.
Even if each of them were to get 16 votes from the regions, they would still need more to get the 50% required for one to win the election.
The regions have 16 votes from the 58 delegates that will converge next month to elect the Zifa president, the deputy and three other board members.
There are two seats reserved for Women Football and the Premier Soccer League in the Zifa executive committee.
A number of names, headlined by Chiyangwa, have indicated their willingness to contest for the post of Zifa president.
Former Warriors defender James Takavada is one of the candidates that have shown interest in the post.
Former Harare City Football Club chairman Leslie Gwindi, ex-Zifa president Trevor Carlse Juul and former Dynamos chairman Temba Mliswa are also thought to be interested in the post.