Well, the big game came and passed on Sunday. Zimbabwe played Guinea at Rufaro, the country’s ceremonial home of football. While the reportage was mainly on the game, I am taking a different angle. I had not been to a football match since that National Sports Stadium mishap. I honestly thought things had changed and that the ZIFA I read about in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons could at least make it up for a big game. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Totally misled.
The match opened my eyes to the serious rot at ZIFA. I went to the stadium, like many football loving fans around 2pm, hoping to get in on time and to enjoy the big game. It was a horrible mistake. In the finally analysis, I should have stayed home.
I was made to believe there were 32 gates open by 10 am but I found myself and many others sulking in a static queue, amid intermittent chaotic scenes of pushing and shoving.
Moments later, I saw from a spitting distance, the VVIP gate, the guest of honour Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi, who is also acting Minister of Sport,Arts and Culture and former Deputy Minister of Sport, who is also the Minister of State in Vice President Mphoko’s office, Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga, stranded.
They were locked outside for too long and eventually they failed to officiate at the beginning of the match. I wondered if there was a protocol officer at ZIFA. Cry our beloved ZIFA!
My understanding is that the marshals, who had keys to the VVIP entrances were nowhere to be seen on time. They would appear and disappear.
No one from, ZIFA was anywhere nearer. Imagine the guest of honour being locked outside? The two Government ministers were visibly embarrassed but they kept their calm.
But when MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai arrived, the marshals suddenly appeared and quickly rushed to open the gate for him. I am not really sure as to what his arrangement was? The marshals physically rushed to open the gate for him and closed as soon as he entered.
That aside, the security left a lot to be desired.
The police details there were visibly overwhelmed. Gate, 17 the VVIP gate had no police details outside. There were just a few inside. The two Ministers’ security was at risk.
I wonder if Rufaro was the best venue for such a big match. Many, many people failed to make into the stadium.
There was ugly corruption at gate 9, where VIPs with prepaid tickets were supposed to enter.
The queue was short but suddenly a marshal made fans pay between $5 and $10 and shoved them in, in big numbers. What happened to accountability?
It is fact not fiction that Rufaro was the wrong place altogether and it defies logic how ZIFA chose Rufaro ahead of the giant National Sports Stadium. Rufaro was too small for the game resulting in the chaotic scenes. Fans were shoved, kneed, kicked and tossed.
Others gave up while those who were resilient enough, got in after untold suffering.
That is not how football should be. Fans must enjoy the game but how do you enjoy the game after an energy sapping entrance.
If this is what our fans go through at every match, then God forbid, Cuthbert Dube and his team owe an apology to the people of Zimbabwe. A colleague told me Dube and his team don’t care a hoot. They are extremely arrogant and will not apologise for the mishap. Fetid!
It is amazing that 35 years after independence, ZIFA cannot make it easy for our people to enjoy football.
I for many years thought the rot was confined to the offices, but again, I am told they seat on the floor because the furniture was auctioned. I take it they have no furniture, no image, no dignity and no brains. My foot!