IndependentSport View –With Itai Dzamara
THE Olympic Games are only a month away, but Zimbabwe finds itself in typical chaos ahead of the jaunt to the prestigious international sporting showpiece in
It’s a pity Zimbabwe hobble to the extravaganza with a cocktail of squabbles and ill preparations militating against the country’s medal prospects.
Endless wrangles have become synonymous with some sports in Zimbabwe, while the majority of disciplines are bleeding to death due to severe sponsorship deficiency.
Attempting to chronicle the depths of despair sport in general has plumbed would surely take the whole of this newspaper.
Let me, nevertheless, hasten to point to last month’s dismissal of the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) leadership by Sports minister Aeneas Chigwedere.
Hailed by all and sundry as a long-overdue move, Chigwedere’s decision remains hollow and, in essence, ineffective if it’s not complemented by other bold measures.
It definitely would be energy put to sheer waste – talk of much ado about nothing – to merely change faces at the SRC or even the Zimbabwe Football Association without confronting the issues that have always affected our sports.
May I also draw attention to last week’s so-called demonstration by soccer fans outside parliament in Harare.
The protest, which was ostensibly meant to hand over a petition to Chigwedere, looked suspicious. It seemed to have been stage-managed.
Most of the so-called demonstrators were clearly linked to Zanu PF and could be heard professing their ignorance of the motive of their protest. “We were ferried from Mbare and we don’t know what we are demonstrating for,” said one of the rented demonstrators. The placards they carried also explicitly sold out the clowning that is endemic in this country’s management of affairs. “Viva Chief Svosve,” one of them read, apparently more than a month after the chief died.
So what minister Chigwedere after the “demonstration”? What’s next for sport?
And have you tucked on your office walls those placards your bodyguard diligently collected after the “mass action”?
These are pertinent questions yearning for answers from the minister of sports.
My challenge to Chigwedere and his colleagues in government, if they want us to start taking them seriously, is to start walking the talk. The cheap populist antics like the one put up at parliament last week will not hoodwink anyone.
The tomfoolery will not lure sponsorship to any of the sporting disciplines in this country. Neither will this monkey business miraculously solve the administrative bungling that has become the hallmark of every sporting discipline in this country, with cricket being the latest entrant.
It is disgusting how some among us endorse Chigwedere and his government’s failure to deal with problems in the sporting arena. Surely, why should we praise the eccentric historian for dismissing the SRC board – after more than five years of rot during which there appeared to be no sports ministry in this country?
And Chigwedere merely dismisses the gang and replaces it with another of handpicked individuals linked to the establishment? Of course, one might say the minister tried to follow up with the “mass action” last week.
The glaring problems that consistently torment our sports – including cricket, recently dragged into the abyss by Peter Chingoka – all hinge on a Zanu PF government that believes sport is only important when it can be used to win elections.
A government, lately joined by one maverick Jonathan Moyo, which for example shamelessly tries to use the crisis at Dynamos FC to gain cheap popularity.
Remember those days in 2001 when the ubiquitous Moyo acted like an executive member at Dynamos? Where is he now when the Glamour Boys sing the blues day in day out?
We were once treated to a battle for the sports portfolio involving Moyo and Chigwedere and another silly farce it was. All it did was waste our time, nothing more.
We have here a government that arrogantly cobbles lengthy messages celebrating South Africa’s winning of the 2010 soccer World Cup bid. “It is also an opportunity for Zimbabwe to market itself to the world and boost tourism,” the department of information stated.
Our southern neighbours are a proud example of commitment and dedication in all endeavours. Needless to mention, President Thabo Mbeki’s government was in the thick of things, not only recently in campaigning for the bid, but also over the years in improving infrastructure and the general state of sports in that country.
Why does this Zimbabwe wait for opportunities that come through the efforts of others, when its doddering government wastes time on silly demonstrations?
Compare the seriousness with which South Africa has cracked down on match-fixing allegations in soccer to the clowning that we are meant to cheer when Chigwedere once in a while emerges from his hideout to dismiss a useless board at one of the confused sports institutions in this country.
And you will understand why I am calling all this fuss about nothing a heap of nonsense.
Compare what South Africa puts into its preparations to host major events or even for its teams’ participation at tournaments to the circus that goes on here.
In bold words may I state to Chigwedere and his colleagues in government that we are sick and tired of this hypocrisy regarding sports. We are fed up with the usual talk and talk and even more useless talk.
May we therefore demand that Chigwedere’s ministry starts taking our sports and us seriously? And that should be reflected by a serious approach to the forthcoming Olympics Games.
Our athletes who will take part in Athens next month need funding in order to have sufficient preparations. Listening to Chigwedere’s meandering speech on the eve of departure for Athens won’t help any of them bring a medal home.
Last week I mentioned in this column how the local athletics leadership failed to organise a single event to choose participants under Olympics standards. Zimbabwe’s diving team will for the first time since Independence miss out at the Games.
Trying to discuss Zimbabwe’s prospects of getting an Olympic medal – the first and last was a hockey gold in 1980 – would be joining the Chigwederes of this world in wasting time and resources.
For now the best the ministry of sports could do is wake up from its long slumber and provide as well as mobilise resources needed by the Olympics team in preparation for the games.
Thereafter, a clear policy on sports development would be pursued; with hope it culminates in the improvement of infrastructure as well as sanitise the leadership. It is only then that chances to host tournaments such as the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament become meaningful.
Otherwise we continue lagging behind and cheering silly demonstrations as well as dancing to propaganda jingles composed overnight in praise of an under-funded national team without anything to show for all the hullabaloo.
Meanwhile clothing concern Faithwear yesterday announced a $40 million sponsorship package for the Zimbabwe Olympics team, a gesture that should be complemented by a serious government approach in order to encourage more members of the corporate world to come forth and develop sport.
Sponsors need normalcy, professionalism and accountability to prevail before they can commit their resources.