Blog: Simataa & the conflict of interest
On December 13, 2017, a FAZ circular number 40/2017 was issued to affiliates announcing the formation of the League Restructuring Working Group with vice-president Rix Mweemba appointed chairman.
Veteran football administrator Simataa Simataa was named secretary of the 7-man committee that includes respected Englishman and former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein as consultant.
Others on the committee are Ndola lawyer Kephas Katongo (vice chairman), John Chiwele, Brian Mulenga and Joseph Chipampwe as members.
Last week, the committee held its first meeting with its secretary unaware as revealed by a Zambia Daily article of January 7, 2018.
The article quotes Mweemba saying Simataa did not give notification as to why he was absent.
“Yes, the meeting was held and I believe the FAZ secretariat headed by general secretary Ponga Liwewe did notify all the members of the committee about the meeting. It is very difficult to comment on the matter because I have not received any communication from him [Simataa],” Mweemba is quoted.
Based on the statement, Mweemba threw the ball into Simataa’s court to state why he skipped the meeting when he and six others were presumably invited.
Interestingly, Simataa, according to the same article, was not told about the meeting.
He is quoted, “all I can say is that I wasn’t informed. I don’t know if it’s a new development or just a normal omission or what.
“I got the information from a third party that is when I tried to call one of the members of the committee who confirmed that the meeting was held.”
As if to confirm the narrative that something fishy was brewing on the exclusion of Simataa from the league restructuring working group, Liwewe offered a conflicting explanation to what Mweemba had presented.
In yesterday’s Zambia Daily Mail, the FAZ GS expresses fear that Simataa’s position at City of Lusaka where he is general manager of the team’s sponsor may give rise to issues of conflict
He is quoted, “there could be conflict of interest because club officials will need to report to the same committee. So, before writing a formal letter to him [Simataa], we asked him if he was available to take up the position as a committee secretary but said he belonged to City of Lusaka.”
If this explanation is not a farce then I don’t know what to call it. Bear in mind that Simataa was a member of the FAZ disciplinary committee from sometime in late 2016 to early 2017. He quit that post when Lusaka Dynamos appointed him CEO citing potential conflict in the two roles.
The conflicting statements offered by FAZ on Simataa’s absence exposes one thing; the reason for his omission has nothing to do with his position at City of Lusaka. It has everything to do with FAZ president Andrew Kamanga’s sincerity in administering the game.
In any case, FAZ has not formulated any regulation for the working group which is operating on an ad-hoc basis.
Therefore, claims of conflict of interest are far from justifiable reasons for excluding a member from being party to it.
Besides, in whose interest is this committee operating? Is it not the same clubs? So what conflict of interest may arise? If the working group was a judicial body, the reasoning that conflict of interest may arise would make sense.
How do you have a committee that is working to establish a National Football League without any club official party to the process at that crucial stage. Who better appreciates the intricacies of club management? A soccer fan? An analyst? A lawyer? Or club administrators themselves?
How can FAZ decide to delink the league without club representation at the heart of the process? Is this not one of the reasons we have a disastrous division one structure that we are failing to manage?
And is the GS a good example of someone who has observed FAZ regulations when it comes to conflict of interest? That is even when the regulations are already in black and white discouraging some of the activities he has engaged in.
Is it not mind-boggling that when no provisions exist, they seem to invent some regulations to apply to only one person?
If there is one man who holds dearly issues of conflict of interest or declaration of conflict of interest in our football Simataa ranks top among the few. His record speaks volumes.
Unsurprisingly, there is a new set of regulations that apply to Simataa alone. The rest can enjoy another set that even allows them to breach the FAZ constitution with impunity.
For instance, there are two or three FAZ executive committee members who are actively involved with their clubs contrary to article 33 (9) of the FAZ constitution.
Isn’t Dr Joseph Mulenga an active member of K-Stars football club? How about Kafue Celtic owner Lee Kawanu? The media actively quotes Kawanu in that position and for those doubting, a few weeks ago he was even on SuperSport in his Kafue Celtics capacity.
Jim Chongo is a member of the FAZ disciplinary committee but has never ceased to be a Nchanga Rangers member. Could there be a different type of conflict of interest? We learn everyday. I’ll be delighted to attend a lecture on the type of conflict of interest the GS is talking about.
But if there is a standard rule to conflict of interest, why is Simataa’s case different? Simataa has a proven record in football administration of declaring interest when his roles are conflicting.
And if the NFL appointment was the case, he would be the first man before anyone else decides for him, to declare interest and step aside. I have no doubt.
It would be more prudent to advise someone whose services you no longer need for one obvious reason or the other than go on a whirlwind defense that exposes you to be doing nothing but economizing the truth.
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