With Darlington Majonga
THE Moses Chunga saga, a wholly media-invented publicity stunt by a cacophonous lobby group, has now subsided after Zifa gave national soccer team coach Charles Mhlauri the task of ca
lming the “storm” in a teacup.
Chunga, summarily dismissed as Warriors assistant coach for “gross indiscipline” a fortnight ago, awaits his fate that we are told is in Mhlauri’s hands. Zifa for now seems to have climbed down on its initial position – giving Chunga’s band of aficionados the impression their yelling has yielded the desired results.
If Zifa were to end up giving in to a sycophantic clamour disguised as a national outcry by equally obsequious journalists and their disciples then its already damaged reputation would be left in tatters.
You cannot run an institution and make sensible policy by giving in to mobocracy. Those who appointed themselves as Chunga’s apologists know only too well that if they allow informed debate on the issue they will end up with egg on their faces. To make up for their self-evident weak case, the lobbyists as expected resorted to crude name-calling and exaggerations like claiming football has “plunged into crisis”.
That is why we ended up with hyperbolic and crass analogies ridiculously based on a false consciousness dressed up as football orthodoxy by the lobbyists as they struggled to mobilise a critical mass behind Chunga. Frankly speaking, that was clumsy and inept propaganda.
There were also other surreal efforts by the Chunga disciples to strengthen their vociferous campaign. The one-man Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association (ZNSSA), which has reportedly launched Operation Reinstate Chunga, was also roped in to reinforce the loud lobby.
Clearly the ZNSSA is one man speaking on behalf of one man, and why one would like us to believe he represents the “nation” is an insult to the thousands who religiously follow the Warriors.
That the “supporters” resorted to name-calling – reminding us the Zifa board was made up of appointees – only served to unwittingly expose an agenda beyond Chunga’s reinstatement. Whether Rafik Khan and his hangers-on found themselves in office through the backdoor was neither here nor there.
The mob psychology demonstrated by the state media and some sections of the private media only succeeded in obfuscating rational debate on the Chunga issue.
Chunga himself should be angry about the mindless campaign that may end up in fact jeopardising his prospects of a comeback. Instead of opening their papers, which are public entities, the football writers treated readers to a bout of kowtowing and bootlicking journalism that should have left even Chunga himself blushing.
It’s important to note that Chunga has been well-mannered during the brouhaha – an opportune time he had to make his acerbic comments on Zifa’s ineptness at administering football. But he has been quiet, probably because he desperately needed his job back. Or else he feared Zifa would tell us the real reasons why he had been fired – which they eventually did at the instigation of Chunga’s own apologists.
From day one Chunga’s henchmen shouted themselves hoarse but still nobody was moved until they decided to pick a fight with Zifa in a bid to manipulate genuine grievances against the football body to achieve insular ends.
Willing tools and megaphones were roped in to support a gigantic public opinion fraud committed under the banner of “national outcry”. A number of other unsuspecting football persons were also wheeled out and placed as collateral in the lobby. Some were overzealous and ended up urging supporters to boycott the national team just because an assistant coach accused of indiscipline was fired.
We saw articles and television footage demonstrating emotion, anger and irrationality whose genesis no one will ever comprehend. People tried to justify even the most obvious, their nationality and patriotism as if they have something to hide.
Other articles were written to camouflage the real issues. The real issue was about policy and protocol matters against a background of Chunga’s alleged indiscipline and the impact of his dismissal from the team — no matter how popular he is.
It had nothing to do with the demonstration of partisan journalism, let alone whether or not football in Zimbabwe can survive without Chunga.
The apostles of apologia – who exposed their self-serving interests in the issue by behaving all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof – plucked the debate out of its context and situated it in the terrain they are familiar with: the mudslinging match.
Senior journalists who should be encouraging a culture of debate on such issues just took the easy option to hoot behind Chunga like a parliament of owls.
Those who were frothing at the mouth on behalf of Chunga should be embarrassed that even Media and Information Commission chairman Tafataona Mahoso – of all people – deemed the outpouring over the Chunga issue out of sync with what is expected of unblinkered media.
Under pressure from their own disjointed campaign – which was a complete hard sell from a public opinion point of view – the crusaders ended up embarrassingly displaying a guilty conscience after cooling down from their tantrums.
It’s regrettable when the Sportswriters Association of Zimbabwe – which is supposed to be the guardian of professional sports journalism – arbitrarily decides to sue Zifa for allegedly uttering “inflammatory” statements against the media.
It’s not about who was aggrieved or whether Zifa uttered abominable accusations – SWAZ simply should be ashamed to devote scarce resources on legal recourse when it’s apparent the priority is to source funds for refresher courses and peer review seminars for its members.
Zifa in point of fact emerged as the winner out of the organised chaos wrought by the Chunga lobby. An opportunity to expose their endemic incompetence, leadership and policy failures was squandered by journalists who chose to rabbit on while ignoring the fundamental issues at stake.
In the end they let Chunga literally run away with the Bible when they failed to rebuke him for his alleged wayward conduct. The media really lost the plot.