Outgoing Football Association of Zambia – FAZ Secretary General and Chief Executive officer – CEO Ponga Liwewe revealed some the frustrations that led him to quit his job and that the current FAZ president, Andrew Kamanga is in “no win situation”.
Liwewe, who was speaking exclusively to Sizwe Mabena on a Suppersport program had initially kept his reasons for resignation to the official position that he was looking at pursuing other private and commercial interest broke rank and share some of the reasons that led to his quitting half way through his possible four years term.
He said that he had ups and downs during his time with FAZ which eventually culminated into perpetual hard times and quitting. He said that ‘There was turbulence within the executive until two of the members (Richard Kazala and Blackwell Siwale) were expelled. And I think things sort of settled down a little bit after that.
Liwewe said that his team has seen more transparency and good governance but bemoaned that that African football has difficulties because its never been cash rich. It is always struggling from one programme to the other. The outgoing CEO said that sorting out football financing is one area where there is room for improvement to stabilize the game and have stability to get the programmes running.
He further elaborated that his team took over an organization (FAZ) that hadn’t really changed or reformed over a long period of time and started to introduce some new changes, bringing in some new people, bringing in some fresh blood and ideas. This changes may have not settled well with some old members and stakeholders.
Liwewe also questioned the motives of some media houses and media personalities whom he did not specifically name. ‘Some of those people are media people unfortunately and so they are have always strived to create an impression that there was turbulence and problems where it wasn’t really a case of that much turbulence at all’.
One of the Super Sport panelist, Nigerian Idah Peterside asked Liwewe who he described as not being a quitter, on why he was quitting and challenged him to tell the truth? Liwewe answered and said that that firstly, I don’t think moving from one organization to another should be regarded as quitting.
I think it is a move to take a different career direction rather than to stay where one is.
Secondly, Liwewe broke rank and revealed that he found football to be quite a political environment. ‘It was my first time to work in this kind of environment. Previously, my work has been in the private sector, from the time I left school to this point in time. It’s quite a toxic environment. But I would say that Zambian football is totally polarized’.
Liwewe said that you have a situation where people who have been in office continue to fight the people who are in office today. He said that its a very unpleasant environment for the running of the game and obviously, you want to work in a situation where there is peace, where there is harmony, where everyone is working together.
There are a lot of external forces out there who want to see this Kamanga led FAZ administration fail which is unfortunate.And Liwewe further said that the president Andrew Kamanga himself said ‘you have a situation where there are people who were in office who lost and are no longer in power who hate him’. Said Liwewe
And then there is also the group of people who worked with him and who expected that it would be automatic that there would be benefits because they worked with him.And when they realized that he is not the sort of person to be dishing out favours, they have also turned against him, Liwewe further said.
Liwewe further pressed to reveal the reasons behind the low match attendance numbers at the current four nations tournament when compared to the time when Zambia staged the Under-20 Africa Cup which was very successful and they filled the stadiums?
Liwewe said that the Four Nations is sort of friendly because we have taken advantage of the FIFA weekend while the under 20 tournament was very competitive. If you look at the Wednesday games, obviously we were on the Copperbelt, where I would say most of the people are in formal jobs so to get people out of the offices mid-week is not that easy.
Zambia’s Chopolopolo is the country’s football pride and attracts a lot of national attention from grassroots to main stream politicians. Some people have described the FAz presidency and CEO as being the second hottest jobs from the country’s Presidency.
The Kamanga administration also faces the prospects of filling up the big shoes left by Zambia’s legendary soccer star kalusha Bwalya, who is one of the most celebrated soccer icon in Zambia and delivered the country’s first Africa cup trophy in his tenure as FAZ president.
The general expectations from most local fans and the country at large after the Africa cup victory in 2012 is that the Chipolopolo should make a World Cup appearance and demonstrate its exploits at the world stage.