The Sunday Mail
Makomborero Mutimukulu Sports Editor —
When Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa gives himself a 10/10 mark after a year in local football’s highest office, the temptation is to laugh and wait for a more serious response. That serious response doesn’t come.
Instead Chiyangwa, who ascended to the Zifa leadership on December 5 last year, walks towards a window to the right of his plush Harare office and points at a wing he “donated” to the football governing body.
“This thing was messed up to the extent that I said to myself no wonder why Cuthbert Dube could not use those 53 Livingstone Avenue offices. There was no president’s office, all the furniture had been taken by creditors. It was such a mess.
“You can see I transferred those people from there, gave them my extra offices and my furniture. Here we have peace unlike that place where the Sheriff always came to attach property,” said Chiyangwa in an interview on Friday.
Never one to be associated with humility, the 57-year-old businessman claims to be the best thing to have ever happened to local football.
He backs up that rather bizarre claim saying: “If you judge my year in office against any other year, there is no one who has performed the way I have, especially when you know that there is no Government funding, it’s financial engineering all the way. I give myself 10 out of 10. It has never been so good even at a time when there was funding.
“When I was elected Zifa president, this association was dead but I found a way to keep it going. Personally, I was not in the best of health at the time but I had to apply myself and ignore the advice of the doctors . . . ” Chiyangwa continued before being interrupted by the question: “What were you suffering from?”
“I knew that was coming. Look, I am in the public eye and people said cancer, HIV and so forth but I had an operation on my leg which was injured during that fire at my home.
“The moment I came into office I was still recovering from thyroid and had to know if it was life threatening and so forth.”
Chiyangwa said his decision to partner with Wicknell Chivayo, with whom he signed a ludicrous one-page contract, was a case of desperate measures for desperate times.
“The Valinhos issue was a threat to my presidency. Had we not paid that money we would have been kicked out of the 2022 World Cup. A desperate man can hold on to anything until the floods go away.
“I had Wicknell Chivayo, that was my salvation. Bang $1 million, bang $185 000 goes to Valinhos,” he said.
And a one-page contract?
“I am very clever, I could see what would have happened had we procrastinated on the matter. Fifa had booted us out of the 2018 World Cup and 2022 was under threat too.
“The guy had money then. He was sponsoring me and not Zifa. Protocol would have created serious problems,” said Chiyangwa.
Results on the pitch have given the nation a lot to smile about with the Warriors qualifying for Gabon 2017 and the Mighty Warriors taking to the park at the Rio Olympics and the just ended Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
However, Chiyangwa’s seemingly knee-jerk administration of the game has been called into question on several occasions. The axing of Twine Phiri as Premier Soccer League chairman had controversy written all over it.
Attempts to disband Zifa and form the National Football Association of Zimbabwe were described as a fraudulent act aimed at dribbling creditors by the Sports Commission.
Delta Beverages are coy on renewing their partnership with the PSL following the suspension of Peter Dube, the man who replaced Phiri at the helm of the top-flight league. You still reckon you are 10 over 10 man?
“Yes, absolutely,” Chiyangwa said.
“I must put order in the house. Twine Phiri had no right to continue to be PSL chairman because he was no longer chairman of Caps United. Furthermore, the PSL constitution does not have a vice chairman but Peter Dube was there . . . so there were two guys who were running the show illegally.
“I don’t fight personal wars. I will not sit by when someone breaks football laws. We cannot be accused of interfering with the PSL, you can’t interfere with your own house. Zifa is in charge of football in this country.”
As he campaigned for the Zifa presidency Chiyangwa, who will compete for the Cosafa presidency next weekend, vowed to serve a single term. That tone appears to be changing.
“All I can say now is when I leave, I will be going up,” he states.
A year with Captain Fiasco!