Mungwari must pass on the baton

The general trend in Zimbabwe is that leaders, whether in politics, business or sports, tend to hang onto power despite glaring signs of failure.

Report by Simba Rushwaya

In sport, one such example is National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (Naaz) president Joseph Mungwari.

Having presided over the virtual demise of athletics in the country, Mungwari surprised all and sundry when he declared that he would run for another term.

According to Naaz’s constitution, elections should be held every Olympics year between July and October.

Naaz has already breached its own constitution and it remains a mystery when the association’s elections would be held. Maybe they were held and Mungwari was once again retained unopposed, what with the covert manner in which Naaz always operates? Or  Mungwari wants to be Naaz life president.

Surprisingly, when I had a chat with Mungwari a month ago, he claimed Naaz elections are held every year, when the constitution says something  totally different.

Mungwari told our sister newspaper Standard recently that their “busy” schedule did not permit the association to hold elections as prescribed by the constitution. Instead, the elections would be held in December.

In light of this, it is illogical to expect Mungwari to be competent when he cannot simply  follow a  constitution he helped draft.
Most Naaz provincial leaders have no idea when elections would be held and this has created fertile ground for manipulation. Mungwari must allow wider participation.

Athletics standards in Zimbabwe have over the years deteriorated drastically, with the rot glaringly exposed at this year’s London Olympics where Zimbabwe had no athletes in track and field events for the first time ever.

The country only managed to send three marathon runners for track and field events.

Sponsors have virtually deserted the sport, which is supposedly the second most popular after soccer in Zimbabwe.

The  redeeming factor for athletics is that it is less expensive compared to other sporting disciplines such as cricket, golf and tennis. Athletes can even participate barefooted. That is why it is puzzling why the system which ushered in the likes of Julia Sakala, Samukeliso Moyo, Gayle Dube, Brian Dzingai, just to name a few, is gone.

Zimbabwe has extraordinary talent, but the biggest letdown has been the recycling of old and tired leaders who only think about lining their pockets instead of prioritising development of the sport.

Mungwari should pass on the baton to the younger generation if athletics is to be revived in the country, because the man has single-handedly destroyed the sport in almost two decades at the helm.

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