By Petros Kausiyo
THE Sports Commission have given a massive vote of confidence to ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa in a sudden change of heart that has left those who have been battling to topple the domestic football leadership in the cold. Edward Siwela, the Sports Commission chairman, hailed the Harare tycoon for successfully managing the association over the last two years.
A number of rebels who have been fighting against the ZIFA leadership have been courting the Sports Commission for support leading for a friction between the two bodies.
Siwela heaped praise on Chiyangwa at a reception at which Land, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri officiated on behalf of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga to salute the Warriors for winning the COSAFA Cup.
“I would like to acknowledge the president of ZIFA Dr Philip Chiyangwa for the success of the national teams. This is a testimony of his leadership,” said Siwela.
“He is an achiever and he has been successful not only for this year’s tournament but over the years.”
Siwela’s acknowledgement of the success story at ZIFA, despite limited resources, is a turn around by a supreme sports body that had been at loggerheads with the football leadership.
Relations between Chiyangwa and his immediate lieutenants on the ZIFA board, vice-president Omega Sibanda and finance guru Philemon Machana — on one side — and the SRC chairman Siwela and acting director general Joseph Muchechetere have always been frosty.
The ZIFA leaders believe the two SRC bosses have been on a witch-hunt to try and destabilise the operations of the national game and have now ganged up with some former ZIFA leaders who are part of the Sandton Project.
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kazembe Kazembe, who also graced Monday night dinner, brought the ZIFA leaders and the two Sports Commission bosses to a round-table in his offices in Harare in April and asked them to smoke the peace pipe.
On Monday night, Chiyangwa finally got the recognition from the Sports commission which he has always believed his executive deserved after inheriting a ZIFA that was tottering on the brink of collapse and saddled with a staggering $7 million debt.
Siwela also paid tribute to the government for coming up with incentives for the sportsperson, who had been flying the country’s flag high by giving them $1 000 each.
“Your presence has induced festivity amongst all especially on a night were success has been appreciated and incentivised.
“Sport and Recreation has always been one of government’s top priorities among all its programmes and to this end on behalf of the sporting fraternity I would like to collectively thank the government for the support that it has always extended to us.
“Sport, as we all appreciate, is no longer a past time activity but rather an economic driver and I am glad to note that our government has not been left behind with regards to supporting the ever changing trends in sports.
“It is in this spirit that I would like to thank you Honourable Vice President in a special way for placing sport on its rightful position.
“Kindly receive our highest assurance that those of us in sport and recreation sector will play their part in order to ensure that Zimbabwe will become the jewel of Africa.”
“Sir we are aware that Government is currently seized with dealing with a number of challenges from providing quality Health services, Education and ensuring that the economy is back on track, we are pleased that in the matrix of all this, sport has not been relegated to the periphery rather it has been placed on high on the agenda as even manifested by the 100 days’ projects which all Ministries and Parastatals are currently implementing.
“Honourable Vice President Sir, we are aware that your office is an ever busy one but we are humbled that you managed to spare some time to be with us. To us this is a clear demonstration that Sport is very much a part of government plans and programmes. This can only gratify and humble us and in so doing we pledge to do better in all our endeavours because we are assured of your support,” Siwela said.