The Sunday Mail
PHILLIP CHIYANGWA, being Phillip Chiyangwa, was bound to bring some drama and then some into local football’s highest office.
Today is Chiyangwa’s 784th day in office and one can find 784 things he has done wrong, dramatically wrong.
One can also find 784 things the man has done right, dramatically right.
As the wheels turn towards another Zifa election, there are those who argue that Chiyangwa has been a disaster just as much as we have those who insist there would be no football to talk about had he not come on board.
True to form Chiyangwa, who will be seeking a fresh mandate during this year’s elections, feels he has done enough to deserve a longer stay in that lofty seat.
“I am actually in a better position right now than what was the case in the first election when l was a new boy to the politics of our football…,” the Zifa numero uno was quoted as saying by our sister paper, The Herald, last week.
“Of course, it’s an election year and a lot will be said about this and that, which is quite normal, but I know what I am doing, what I have covered and what needs to be done to win this election with even a bigger margin if there are any challengers at all.
“That is why I have declared my interests early while all you are getting from the other end are ghost characters without names and faces who are said to be preparing to take me on when the elections come along.
“I know the good work that we have done is being appreciated by those who matter when it comes to these elections, the Zifa councillors, who trusted me to do this job when they made that intervention to save our game by revoking the mandate of the Dube leadership which had crippled our football.”
Chiyangwa divides opinion just as he did on the day he earned the right to be Zifa president.
When he overwhelmingly won the right to replace Cuthbert Dube, on 5 December 2015, those who never bought into his Bhora Kuna Phidza gospel warned we were headed for a calamity.
But if we are to be fair, Chiyangwa has not turned out to be Zimbabwean football’s holocaust as his critics shouted, doom and gloom style.
On the flip side, those who were charmed by Captain Fiasco and voted him into the Zifa presidency, ahead of Trevor Juul, spoke about good times rolling.
Their line was that Chiyangwa was rich, street wise and would use his Government links to breathe life back into our game.
This lot painted the Harare property mogul as a saviour, a man who could turn anything he touched into gold.
Again if we are to be fair, Chiyangwa has not lived up to that top billing either.
So what has he done?
Maybe the best thing to do is refer to his manifesto and assess if the Zifa boss has managed to walk the walk, how far he has walked and where he has not lived up to his word.
As he campaigned, Chiyangwa argued that being Zifa president would give him a chance to “fulfil a lifelong dream to serve football.”
And he has saved and served!
The man, who turns 59 next month, points to how he managed to rescue the Warriors 2022 dream by paying off what was owed to former national team coaches Valinhos and Tom Sainfeit within days of coming into office.
A partnership with the controversial Wicknell Chivayo was bound to bring out the unorthodox and the deal was signed on a single piece of paper and Chiyangwa later bizarrely claimed that Chivayo was his personal sponsor, not Zifa’s.
As controversial as it was, that marriage saw Zifa navigate past a tough period.
The relationship with Walter Magaya attracted some brickbats too but one cannot say that it had no positives.
Doing so would be devilish.
True to his word, the Young Warriors got going under Chiyangwa.
Women’s football, which was in comatose during Dube’s era and error, is up and running, albeit with glitches.
Chiyangwa’s strides into the Cosafa, Confederation of African Football and Fifa corridors of power have positioned Zimbabwean football.
He has ticked that box.
Coming from a corporate background, Chiyangwa promised to uphold good corporate governance ethics.
However, an audit report that reveals that Zifa are renting his Harare offices do not augur well for Chiyangwa.
The guy is not only the Zifa boss, he is also the association’s landlord too?
Chiyangwa’s attempt to clone Zifa into the National Football Association of Zimbabwe was seen as an unethical way to run away from a $6 million debt he had promised to service.
Today, that debt is believed to be over $7 million.
There was a promise to be open to criticism but that walk has been difficult.
“It is important that we are ethical in our conduct and we open up Zifa to everyone because it’s a public office. We will be open to criticism and we will work to improve ourselves,” reads part of Chiyangwa’s 2015 manifesto.
But one of the things that the Zifa president is accused of doing is ruthlessly crushing opposing voices, hence the suspension of such figures as former Premier Soccer League and Highlanders chairman Peter Dube.
Indeed, it can be argued that the failure by some councillors to speak out against him is a result of fear of going the Dube and Edzai Kasinauyo way instead of overwhelming endorsement of Chiyangwa as his propaganda machinery wants us to believe.
The strong push for early polls and the embarrassment he suffered when last month’s scheduled Annual General Meeting was resisted by the majority of councillors are signs that not every councillor still worships the ground that Chiyangwa walks on as was the case before.
Chiyangwa also promised to work tirelessly to “encourage and promote international best practice at the PSL”.
But one does not need to be a rocket scientist to tell how that claim and the drama that saw Delta Beverages threatening to withdraw their sponsorship after relegation tiff between Zifa and the top flight league at the end of the 2016 season are poles apart.
The Christian Epoupa red card scandal was also a low moment for the Zifa boss who once infamously described himself as the god of Zimbabwean football.
The time between now and the Zifa elections is open to speculation but one guarantee is that until then, and probably four years after, Chiyangwa will continue to be the gift that keep on the giving — drama!