By Mlondolozi Ndhlovu
For about half a decade Zimbabwean soccer has wallowed in the doldrums as the rest of Africa has sped up developmental efforts to challenge world football power houses in the near future. Now with the ZIFA presidential elections slowly approaching, disturbing developments seem to indicate that no hope of change lies ahead even after the ouster of the number one nemesis of Zimbabwean football, Cuthbert Dube.
The gap being created between our African brethren and us surely does not seem to bother football lovers within Zimbabwe, which is if the past week’s developments are anything to go by. What with the slow but sure rise of one canny, witty but deceptive Philip Chiyangwa in the football circles, gunning for the ZIFA presidency even without any football administrative history worth talking about.
I wonder how South Africa Football Association boss, Danny Jordaan would take Doctor Chiyangwa’s comparison between them? Danny Jordaan has achieved that which very few African football administrators have but the Doc saw it fit to compare himself to that ‘legend’. Obviously he meant in other spheres not football management, maybe body physique.
After Dube’s exit from ZIFA one would have expected a new broom to sweep at Number 53 Livingstone Avenue, one that was not as tainted as the latter. One that is competent and would inspire confidence, not pop up before matches just to hand over some dollars before disappearing. ZIFA needs an administrator not a sponsor. However when the country’s largest daily newspapers by readership and the country’s leading sport journalists resort to giving support to someone whose only soccer administrative post has been at Citrus Farm Football Club how then can we as a nation expect to raise our competitive levels. Chiyangwa, a ‘Game-Changer’ really?
If those who are supposed to inform start mis-informing and conveniently forget the clear mistakes of such a character how then do they expect our Warriors to qualify even for AFCON. We need to stop singing for our supper and start telling the truth. This same cancer is what is hindering our economic and political development.
Obviously as its stands Chiyangwa has very high chances of landing the top post despite his lack of football insight because of a number of painful reasons, the first being that our football has become so corrupt you do not just win without councillors having gotten something out of your pocket (kumumwa, kumupfekanekumudya) and Chiyangwa has the financial muscle to feed all of them ten times over.
Anyway what do you think he is doing traversing the pot-holed roads of Zimbabwe all the way down to Chiredzi? They will vote for him with a clear conscience and full tummies. It happened under Dube and will surely repeat itself this year.
Chiyangwa needs to know his limits yes but the question to ask is; Where are our football legends who have always complained of being left out of administration? Where are other football loving individuals who have questioned governance at ZIFA House countless times?
Eyebrows of the intelligent ones were raised by veteran administrators, Omega Sibanda’s decisions to back Chiyangwa despite the fact that he has more experience in football administration. If the Sibanda really intended to develop our soccer I am sure Chiyangwa would have backed him as they have been at the top echelons of administration unlike ‘mzukuru’as Chiyangwa is populary known.
His $20, 000 ‘donation’ to the Warriors is not going down the drain, it is an investment which will be repaid, raising the debt of ZIFA, nomatter what the leading papers say. Dube is demanding a million dollars from ZIFA when we thought all those high sums of cash he splashed on the warriors were donations.
Zimbabwe’s football legends risk being labelled empty vessels by their silence. They make a lot of noise when it is unnecessary but remain mum when they should not. These are the people who should be driving us towards development not politicians who might just be out there for publicity, money and power. We need someone who has been on the field of play, someone whose image exudes confidence, has not been tainted in the past and has the zeal and passion to lead us to Canaan, not this. If they fail to raise their heads now then they should not try to do so after the milk has been spilt.
Every stone was thrown at Dube with more being thrown even after his exit. If the same vigour was to be exhibited in analysing each and every candidate and possible candidate before the December 5 elections the best candidate for development will win, not richest candidate.
We need someone whose passion, integrity and moral standards are unquestionable.
Zimbabwean football needs someone who possesses a character which can attract sponsors and have links with those with whom we wish our soccer to be linked with.
We do not need a politician whose history is riddled by cases of mal-administration in their own companies, failure or none payment of employees over years and has political connotations in his candidature to run for office at ZIFA. Let ZIFA councillors shame us and show us that money really is not everything.
The temptation might be irresistible but at the end history will remember you for your greed much more than the few cents you gobble while in a crumbling office.