Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) Referees Committee secretary-general, Obert Zhoya, has resigned from his post following allegations of sexual harassment raised by female referees.
Zhoya’s resignation marks the first time that a senior official linked to suspended ZIFA president Felton Kamambo has quit the association.
One of Zhoya’s alleged victims claimed that she had been “humiliated, intimidated and degraded” after he reportedly asked her via WhatsApp to spend the night with him in a hotel. She wrote to ZIFA:
I would like to put on record that he had been making these unwelcome sexual advances since September 2019.
The allegations I make herein are backed by evidence in the form of phone call voice recordings.
I then got the courage from the evidence I had and learned that I’m not the only one (who) was subject to this harassment.
I have been on the ZIFA (referees) panel since 2019, I’m 30 years old. I expected to be treated with respect, not like a lady of the night.
I, however, request you to look into the matter and possibly address the issue and in the process protect me and my fellow female referees who are suffering silently.
According to a report by a British newspaper, The Guardian, both FIFA and CAF confirmed that they were aware of the allegations of the sexual harassment of the female referees by some named ZIFA officials.
In his resignation letter, Zhoya acknowledged the status of Xolisani Gwesela, as the acting chief executive at ZIFA, a position that is disputed by the suspended ZIFA board. Said Zhoya:
This letter serves to inform you that I have, with immediate effect, resigned as secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Football Association Referees Committee, a position that I have been holding since March 2019.
I have taken this decision purely on professional grounds so as to pass the baton to new blood for the development of referees.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the Zimbabwe Football Association for entrusting me with this responsibility and I would want to wish the Zimbabwe football family well.