Broke Zimbabwe Government tells ZIFA to apologise to Sir Wicknell Chivayo

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THE Ministry of Sport and Recreation have said they will not intervene in the fallout between ZIFA and their benefactor Wicknell Chivayo at this point and yesterday they insisted the two parties should be able to find each other following a week of drama that led to the breakdown of a sponsorship marriage.

Chivayo, who has a three-year sponsorship deal worth $1 million with ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa, announced he was cutting off his funding for the national soccer teams for this year. The flamboyant Harare businessman was angered by the tone of an article carried in The Sunday Mail, suggesting that national team coach Callisto Pasuwa has not been paid his salary for two months when, in fact, he had availed the funds. The Minister of Sport and Recreation, Makhosini Hlongwane, yesterday said the association and Chivayo “should be able to find each other” without Government involvement after ZIFA indicated they will seek to re-engage their sponsor.

“The ministry cannot comment on that issue at the moment. We are waiting to receive a report from the Sports and Recreation Commission, but we also feel that ZIFA is well within its capabilities to deal with such an issue,” said Hlongwane. The two parties, however, are yet to meet as the association’s president, Philip Chiyangwa, is away in South Africa. His deputy, Omega Sibanda, was not keen to discuss the recent events and opted to wait for his boss to return. Chivayo has invested close to $600 000 in football over the last three months by bankrolling the Warriors and the Mighty Warriors in their regional and international assignments.

He has also bought top-of-the-range cars for Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa and his Mighty Warriors counterpart Shadreck Mlauzi, apart from settling of long-standing debt to former coach Tom Sainfeit to save the Warriors’ 2022 World Cup dream. Under normal circumstances, the Government, through the Ministry of Sport and Recreation, should be taking a leading role in meeting most of the expenses of the national teams but it has proved difficult under the prevailing harsh economic conditions.

The feeling in the football fraternity is that Chivayo has done his best as an individual in his support of the Warriors but debate was rekindled about the need to engage the corporate world in sport. With about 60 different sport codes under one umbrella, which literally translate to over 100 senior national teams for both men and women, the Ministry of Sport and Recreation indicated that they cannot cope with the pressure associated with the funding of their trips, camping as well as bankrolling grassroots development and rendering support to the junior national teams in their various age-groups, hence the need for the corporate sector to chip in, in a big way.

Hlongwane yesterday said the ministry was working with a tight budget which falls less than 10 percent of their total requirements in a calendar year. “We had requested $36 million on the last budget and we got (only) $2,5 million. From that money, $900 000 went to service the expenses and the debts that came from hosting the National Youth Games in Bulawayo. “Therefore, it means what remains from that amount is $1,5 million. But generally if our budget is provided in full, I think we can meet all our obligations without any problems. It’s only unfortunate that our economy is not performing as we all would have liked. These are some of the things that we have to understand,” said Hlongwane.

The minister recognised the role being played by the corporate world but feels more needs to be done. He said the ministry will make a pronouncement in the coming weeks concerning the funding of national teams. Recently, the Zimbabwe Under-21 men’s and women’s hockey teams nearly missed the World Cup qualifiers and had to travel in batches to Namibia because of lack of funds. But with determination, the women’s team managed to beat the odds and qualified for the prestigious tournament to be held in Chile later this year.

Hlongwane said they need more numbers in terms of corporates coming in to support sport at the highest level. “The corporate world is actually involved in sport. If you can go to rugby, cricket and other codes you will appreciate what I am saying. I was in Gwanda for the Paralympic Games and there was one corporate from Harare who was taking care of the bill.

“So the corporate world is involved but the question is at what level? What is the level of investment into the sports sector by the corporate world? We certainly want to see it improve. That’s why I am saying I will be making pronouncement in due course,” said Hlongwane.

Source: Herald