January 5 marked exactly a month since Philip Chiyangwa swept to a landslide victory in the ZIFA elections and took over the baton as the leader of the country’s biggest sporting discipline and as our Senior Sports Editor ROBSON SHARUKO reflects, true to the Harare businessman’s colourful character, it has been quite an eventful ride for domestic football.
RESOLVING THE SAINTFIET CASE
Cuthbert Dube and his board had sat on this time bomb for more than three years and Zimbabwe was about to pay a huge price, with expulsion from the 2022 World Cup looming, but Chiyangwa and his team, IN JUST A MONTH, began paying off the $180 000.
RESCUING THE 2020 WORLD CUP
The Warriors 2022 World Cup was in doubt because of the Saintfiet debt accrued over more than THREE YEARS, but IN JUST A MONTH, Chiyangwa and his board rescued it by organizing a payment plan for the Belgian coach, including $50 000 down payment, to dissolve the debt.
PAYING CALLISTO PASUWA HIS DUES
The Warriors gaffer was owed more than $11 000 for his services to the national team, stretching MORE THAN EVER, but IN JUST A MONTH, Chiyangwa and his board paid him in full.
SETTLING THE WARRIORS OUTSTANDING DUES
The home-based senior national team players have been battling, FOR MORE THAN A YEAR, to get their dues, including payments accruing from their last dance at the CHAN finals, but IN JUST A MONTH, Chiyangwa and his board started paying them off.
MEETING AND ADDRESSING PLAYERS AT THEIR TRAINING GROUND
For FIVE YEARS, Cuthbert Dube only watched ONE Warriors’ game, an exhibition tie against Brazil and didn’t even dare to come to the stadium, BUT IN JUST ONE MONTH, Chiyangwa plunged into the trenches and braved the rains to be with the boys at their training ground and hear their grievances.
UNVEILING A MILLION-DOLLAR PARTNERSHIP
Cuthbert Dube and his board failed, in FIVE YEARS, to bring on board a partner who could help in meeting the huge costs of running the game, but IN JUST ONE MONTH , Chiyangwa and his team brought on board a partner, businessman Wicknell Chivayo, who pledged $1 million and has already paid $500 000.
GIVING ZIFA HEADQUARTERS A NEW LOOK
For the last FIVE YEARS, ZIFA headquarters at 53 Livingstone Avenue in Harare have resembled an abandoned building, an eyesore that Charles Dickens probably had in mind when he created Miss Havisham’s dilapidated mansion in his classic novel, Great Expectations, but JUST A MONTH, the new leadership is giving their home a new look and for good measure, there are sofas and television sets in that building.
BRINGING CLOSURE TO ASIAGATE
In FIVE YEARS, Cuthbert Dube and his board limped under the weight of Asiagate with FIFA refusing to be part of the exercise, and blowing more than $500 000 on it, but in JUST ONE MONTH, Chiyangwa and his team have tamed the monster.
THE TWINE PHIRI SAGA
Chiyangwa emerged from his board’s first meeting to announce that Twine Phiri had ceased to be the PSL chairman, sparking a backlash from a public that fell this was a blow below the belt on a man who has been an oasis of light in a desert of darkness where our national football administration have been perched in the past FIVE YEARS.
THE CALLISTO PASUWA SAGA
The jury is still out on who made the foolish decision to fire Pasuwa and although ZIFA vice president Omega Sibanda has taken all the blame, it’s very clear that this wasn’t his decision and, given the coach’s impressive results while working in a tough environment, this was poor a decision as they will ever come and the backlash from the Government, public and media was predictable leading to his reinstatement.
THE SHARRIF MUSA SAGA
The shock decision to rock the Warriors’ camp, just a few weeks before they plunge into the CHAN tournament, by firing their popular manager Sharrif Mussa and replacing him with Wellington Mpandare, was not only ill-timed, but certainly without substance and provoked a fierce backlash from the public and the media leading to his reinstatement.
THE AUDIT THAT IS YET TO GET UNDERWAY
Chiyangwa promised that he would, upon being elected, immediately institute an audit of ZIFA’s finances and even mentioned reputable firm, KPMG, as the ones who would do it, but a month after he took office, nothing appears to be happening at the front.
NEW WINE IN OLD BOTTLES
Some analysts believe that while there are new faces on the ZIFA board, the reality is that it’s the old system at 53 Livingstone Avenue, which failed Cuthbert Dube and his team, which is still running the show and as long as that remains the status quo, the game is likely to remain in darkness for a long time.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
“Someone said to me football has gone to the dogs and I said, ummmmm, (the) dogs have come to football,” Ian Zvoma, ZTV Sports News anchor.
“The worst is yet to come Ian, you ain’t seen nothing yet, give these downs another month and there will be no football to talk about,” Francis Chochoma, football fan.
“They sold Zim football for 30 pieces of silver and it’s now haunting them, hamusati,” The Herald Sports Editor, Collin Matiza, remarked. On December 5 they created a monster and, the rest, as they say, is history.”
WHAT THE BELIEVERS SAID
“I would like to give my appreciation to you for your handling of my case urgently since you took over the ZIFA presidency,” Tom Sainfiet, wrote to Chiyangwa. “This shows your devotion to you new post and I am convinced you will lead Zimbabwean football to greater heights.”
“I hope this small donation will go a long way even though I had almost changed my mind after receiving threats and mixed feelings from too many critics with no credentials,” Chivayo told The Herald. “Me and Mr Chiyangwa are very happy with the one-page document we signed and it’s binding. As a patriotic Zimbabwean I encourage other successful young businessman to emulate this noble gesture and support national programmes.