Petros Kausiyo in POLOKWANE, South Africa
WARRIORS team manager Wellington Mpandare has lashed out at the Sports Commission and blamed them for politicising the bid by Zimbabwe’s foreign-based players to secure passports to play for their country in all competitions under the auspices of FIFA.
Mpandare told The Herald he believes the Sports Commission had misled Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kazembe Kazembe, into believing that the Warriors had made a last-minute application for passports for Zimbabwean players who are dotted at European clubs.
The Warriors manager chronicled the frustrating period he had endured trying to get such players like Tendayi Darikwa, Kundai Benyu, Adam Chicksen, Kelvin Lunga, Tristan Neydam and Reis Nelson to be issued with Zimbabwean passports.
Most of the players, whom coach Sunday Chidzambwa has identified ahead of the resumption of the Warriors 2019 Afrian Cup of Nations, were born of Zimbabwean parents but outside the country and have been playing for clubs in England, Scotland and Germany.
“We first engaged the former Minister of Sport Makhosini Hlongwane last year and he wrote advising ZIFA that he would either personally assist or task his permanent secretary to take the players to the Registrar General’s office.
“Then there were changes and the new Minister came and I engaged Minister Kazembe first in February and later in March but he became too busy with pressing government commitments.
“I wanted to appraise him of the fact that a process to get the Ministry’s assistance had already started with his officers and those at the SRC,” Mpandare said.
He said that on Independence Day, during the occasion of the Warriors match against Botswana, Kazembe directed Sports Commission board chairman Edward Siwela to assist in resolving the matter.
It is at that stage that the Warriors team manager believes the wheels came off the process with Siwela allegedly re-directing them to acting Sports Commission director general, Joseph Muchechetere, “who was no there to help us”.
“I tried to make a follow-up with Muchechetere but he was said to be in Botswana and I know that the ZIFA CEO Mamutse also wrote to the Sports Commission.
“We did everything on time and it is not like we just woke up asking for help with the passports.
“Some of the players like Kelly Lunga even have long Zimbabwean birth certificates which should have helped ease the process.
“I think under the new dispensation people should take a leaf from President Mnangagwa on the ease of doing business.
“The President has made himself accessible to investors with some taking just 48 hours to secure an appointment to meet with him yet it is taking our Zimbabweans months and months to get just a passport.
“A lot of people also make so much noise about Sports Tourism yet I believe our players who are playing in various leagues outside the country are our best ambassadors.
“I don’t think someone like Julio Baptista will market Zimbabwe more than Tristan Nydam or Reis who is playing for Arsenal.”
Mpandare said the issue had been politicised and the country was now suffering because some people wanted to nurse their egos.
“Kelly Lunga wants to emulate his father Max (Lunga Makanza) who played for the Warriors but here we are frustrating him on his dream over the issuance of a passport,” said Mpandare.
“The SRC should understand that I am not doing this for myself, for Chiyangwa or ZIFA but the country so whatever differences they have with ZIFA or Chiyangwa should not compromise the nation.
“The passport issue should never be politicised at all because this is all about sport.”