Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ZIMBABWE international striker Nyasha Mushekwi has splashed US$120 000 on a specially-customised 45-seater passenger bus for his old club CAPS United as a token of appreciation for the role the Green Machine played in his career.
This comes exactly 10 years to the year Mushekwi left Makepekepe, moving to South Africa to join Mamelodi Sundowns, before his adventure took him to Sweden, Belgium and China.
It also comes in the month Mushekwi will turn 32 on August 21.
The striker left Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang recently to move to second-tier side Zhejiang Greentown.
New Dalian Yifang coach Rafa Benitez apparently appeared to have wanted to create room for Venezuelan forward Salomon Rondon who top-scored for him during his stint with English Premiership side Newcastle United.
Mushekwi said the customised coach will be used by the Green Machine as their team bus and it is his gift to them for the role they played in his development.
Makepekepe took a chance on Mushekwi, when he was known as a basketball player, and the striker exploded to become one of the hottest forwards on the domestic front.
He said the additions to the bus were still being made.
‘‘It’s still on the production line, but almost done,’’ he told The Herald.
‘‘But, I can send you some pictures of what it looks like even though there will be some changes according to the specifications that we want.
‘‘Remember, this is a team bus for a professional football club and it should be fitted with things that will make the boys feel comfortable on their trips when they are going for their assignments.
‘‘I didn’t want this story to come out before everything had been sorted, but things took a turn in the past few days because the issue reached the Ministry and then there were some letters and it’s now in the open.’’
Mushekwi said the bus will also feature the CAPS United green-and-white colours.
‘‘I asked them to make it white outside, to match the team colours, then we are going to brand it with the green colour too, it cost me about US$120 000.
‘‘It’s God’s work, CAPS United put me on the map, I’m thankful to God for this opportunity and I know the situation back home and it’s like, as and when, I can help, I should be able to do so.
‘‘God is always doing amazing things, we give praise to Him.
‘‘I love my team, they are my team and they gave me an opportunity to be who I am and I can never forget what they did to me and it’s important that the new generation of players should also be inspired that, if they work hard, they can go places and, maybe, one day, they can also give back to the team.
‘‘CAPS United is a big brand and it’s a huge family and we are all part of it, including those fans who cheer the team week in and week out, and it’s important that we keep the team moving forward because, before us, there were some people who were playing for this team and helped it to be what it is.
‘‘We then came along and we found it in good shape and the next generation should also find it in good shape and that’s why those who can do something should be able to help this team.’’
CAPS United are a private football franchise owned by Farai Jere, the Premier Soccer League chairman, and businessman, Nhamo Tutisani.
The luxury coach, on Alibaba, the giant Chinese online retail forum, costs between US$75 000 and US$80 000.
However, with the new features which Mushekwi has asked to be fitted to the bus, it means its cost then has moved to about US$120 000.
This week, Mushekwi’s lawyers, Chambati, Mataka &Makonese wrote to Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, saying they were requesting a waiver for the bus not to pay duty.
‘‘Reference is made to the above (donation of the 45-seater bus) and, in particular, to our letter dated July 8, 2019, addressed to the Acting Minister Honourable (Kazembe) Kazembe, in which we did not receive any response or an acknowledgement of the letter,’’ the lawyers wrote.
‘‘We write to you requesting for a response from the Ministry so that we can advise our client accordingly.
‘‘Kindly, treat this matter with urgency as our client has already purchased the bus and is in the process to ship it into the country.’’
On the same day, Coventry responded to the lawyers.
‘‘Please be advised that the donee (CAPS UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB) writes to the Sport and Recreation Commission through ZIFA requesting for exemption of import duty for the said 45-seater bus from the donor (Nyasha Liberty Mushekwi),’’ Coventry wrote.
‘‘Sport and Recreation Commission will then write a covering letter to the Secretary for Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation who will then request for the same from Treasury.
‘‘If Treasury grant the exemption, ZIMRA will proceed to process the same. (Note) Receipts of the purchase must clearly show the name of the done and never to an individual.’’
Mushekwi featured for the Warriors at the last AFCON finals in Egypt in two of their three matches but has since retired from international football.
An injury picked in the first match against Egypt appeared to have ended his Nations Cup adventure but he recovered to play in the final 45 minutes of the final group match against the DRC.
Ahead of the match against the Congolese, the big forward dangled a financial incentive to his fellow players to try and win the match, which would have taken the Warriors into the Round of 16 for the first time, but the team were badly beaten by the Congolese.
It was his second AFCON finals appearance after making his debut at the 2017 edition in Gabon where he converted a penalty in the 2-2 draw against Algeria.
The Desert Foxes won this year’s Nations Cup title.