We get the leaders we deserve

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IF I was to identify the moment the absurdity started, I would go back to December 2015 when the Zifa voters — in their wisdom or lack thereof — decided that Phillip Chiyangwa, a well-known controversial businessman and politician, was the right person to be put in charge to administer football in this country.

Sports Panorama with Enock Muchinjo

I have absolutely no qualms about Chiyangwa’s political beliefs or political activities. Even as opponents back in 2015 tried in vain to lower his electoral mileage for the Zifa elections on the basis of his political affiliation, to me — in the spirit of fairness and respect for the right to freedom of association — Chiyangwa’s football role in relations with his politics could only become a matter of concern the moment there was clear and serious conflict of interest.

So from the very beginning in December 2015, even with a lingering sense of misgiving, I have been quite happy to give Chiyangwa enough of a chance to turn around the fortunes of football in Zimbabwe.

Watching from a distance has allowed me to criticise without prejudice, whenever criticism has been warranted, and I hope Chiyangwa and those that support him will be gracious enough to see it in this light.

After much ponder, though, I tend to agree now with those speaking out that all of us should be acutely worried about the present and the future.

A glance at the state of affairs makes us see all too clearly — with the legality of Chiyangwa’s term of office being increasingly challenged — that Zifa is in a grave constitutional crisis, and this is a feeling I have previously made known.

Everything taking place at the moment may make the rational-minded in our midst want to pull out their hair in frustration, but it does not trouble me as much as the fact that those responsible for the crisis are not bothered a tad bit. All being said by concerned football lovers in this country is just booming hollow noise to the ears of those in charge.

Have they lost their sense of shame?

You will probably not hear a more absurd thing this year than Zifa expelling individuals who are not even in the structures of the game, using the very constitution Zifa stand accused of manipulating. And these people’s crime — simply daring to take a critical stance and telling Zifa to stop vandalising its own statues!

This really is a time of insensitivity to the interests of the football community of this country, and it’s entrenched in a deplorable culture of our nation — absence of shame and unpalatable desire to cling to office.

Football has become a battleground and office bearers are consuming valuable time, if not financial resources, in order to retain the privileges of power at the expense of their core duty of administering and developing the game of football.

There is lack of common decency at Zifa at the moment — standards which should go to the very core of a holder of a public office.

Hopefully, one day if and when common sense prevails and Zifa elections are held, the electorate will focus on the right ideas — football acumen, business skills and uprightness of the candidates.

It’s not just now with the Chiyangwa administration when we have had to experience this. We have always focused on the wrong things and ended up paying a big price.
It is the fault of the entire football fraternity of Zimbabwe that we always end up with poor leadership.

In saying this, I do appreciate that in theory, the board of Zifa is democratically elected by a constitutionally-established council — but then a council that has hardly ever represented the best interests of the vast majority of people who passionately follow football in this country.

This, sorry to say, lays bare the flaws of democracy.

To a great extent, Zimbabwean football is strikingly similar to cricket at the moment in two ways.

One, in both sports there is the most immediate need of changing the governance of the game at the top.

Then, secondly and for the greater good, there is the even more important aspect of constitutional amendments to change the way people assume control in both sports.

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