Losson, we expected better from you

HARARE - I have known Losson Mtongwiza for more than a decade now, and I have to say I have the greatest respect for the chap.

Losson is a rugby man through and through, and for him to assume the position of Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) vice-president as a sprightly 25-year-old, as he did back in the 90s, is ample proof of the man’s selfless service to a sport he has dedicated his entire life to.

IN HAPPIER TIMES: Sables tea manager Losson Mtongwiza, left, celebrates winning the 2012 Africa Cup in Tunisia with Sables coach Brendan Dawson, right.

A he narrated to me the vision he had for the game at such a young age, while we watched the St Georges-Prince Edward match at Saints last year, I had no doubt in my mind that this was the man we could trust with leading the union in the near future.

A powerful lock forward during his schoolboy days at Prince Edward and later on as a youth international for his country, Losson’s potential didn’t manifest at senior level and he never got to play for the Sables, but his contribution to the game as an administrator has been immense. He epitomises the sort of devotion, courage and skill required to run a national sport.

I have had a good working relationship with Losson, and mutual respect between the two of us has been earned over the years.

And because I know the man too well, and being intimately well-acquainted with the intricacies of the game, I can’t say I have been surprised by the widespread dismay and lack of sympathy shown by the rugby fraternity towards Losson following publication of allegations of deep-seated racism in the sport by the Sables manager.

Clearly here, a national sport is being brought into dispute for individual interests. And history always tends to judge harshly those who instead of going down alone, will rather drag everything else along.

Whether or not John Falkenberg is any good as a manager, or is a racist, is a matter of opinion. But Losson has taken a cheap shot here, a new level of irresponsibility, and that is what disappoints the rugby-loving public of Zimbabwe the most following publication of his claims.

Quite clearly, personal gains have been put ahead of the game, and everyone in the fraternity can see that. The reactions on social media have been loud and clear, and thanks to Losson for giving us a perfect example of why the race card no longer works on those who are not ignorant.

Everyone in the fraternity knows that the problems affecting rugby are largely to do with player issues, and Losson has been at the centre of all that.

Everyone who follows rugby in this country at that level knows that senior members of the Sables – mostly black players – have always accused Losson amongst other things of arrogance, total disregard for player welfare, selection interference and intolerance to criticism.

Indeed, everyone knows that senior players, led by the respected captain Costa Dinha and needless to say all of them black, refused to tour Madagascar last year if Losson did not resign from his position.  All the players who vowed to stand by their petition to the ZRU calling for the manager’s ouster, were black.

ZRU’s insistence with Losson at the expense of the players effectively cost us the African title, which was wrestled by Kenya after defeating a weakened Zimbabwean side in the final.

Everyone knows that following that debacle, the ZRU then saw it wise to sacrifice one person, the manager, than to lose several key players and jeopardise the team’s quest to qualify for the World Cup.

Everyone knows that since then, the ZRU has been trying to remove Losson from his post in a bid to mend broken relations with players, and this is what has led the manager on this very unfortunate path in his fight to keep his job.

Everyone in rugby knows that the accusations of selection interference levelled against Losson are not from white players protesting against discrimination. NO. It’s the other way round.

Ask anyone, and they will tell you that cases of experienced black players being discarded in favour of their white counterparts have been during Losson’s second tenure as Sables manager.

Let’s face it, most of the white players are only happy to come and earn a test cap for their country and enhance their CV. The loudest dissenting voices are those of the black players the manager is always fighting running battles with every time there is a Sables camp.

I will tell you a beautiful story: I once witnessed Danny Robertson donate his three-day allowance to a black teammate after being so touched by the plight of his colleague.

It is the black half of the team, mostly from poor backgrounds, who constantly have to pester the manager for that small per diem, to at least have something to show for their efforts, for putting bodies on the line for their country.

It is against this background, dear reader, that most people in rugby find Losson’s stunts to be very provocative and insulting.

I don’t believe Losson is himself racist. His lovely wife Sara, a Canadian white lady, will probably testify. Losson is comfortable in both white and black company; a decent bloke who belongs to both worlds.

On this occasion he has been a victim of his own passion for rugby and the Sables that he cannot fathom being asked to step aside at a time Zimbabwe has a genuine chance to go to the World Cup.

But Losson has been reckless and utterly selfish, by playing into the hands of destructive forces in our political system which are powered by negative energies, ever-ready to gain some political mileage whenever the words “white” and “racism” are mentioned.

Waving the race card has never appealed to me since David Coltart’s skin colour was used as smokescreen after the former minister dared to tackle the issues affecting cricket and he was vilified from all angles by those responsible for the dire situation in the game.

Months down the line, cricket found itself on the brink of collapse in this country, and is probably still not out of the woods.

It was not Coltart’s white kith and kin who got the rough end of the stick. The real victims of the several months without pay were the same people the administration claims to have taken the game to, the black players and poor black workers – our young brothers and mothers from the township.

Do we ever learn from such lessons in this country?

Rugby is much bigger than Mtongwiza, Made, Falkenberg or Crouch and will continue to be played long after these individuals.

To destabilise a game so loved by many for personal interests is the height of recklessness and selfishness, and people will never forget that.

Comments (5)

Losson is an institutionalised black racist who believes that a whiteman is superior. He should be fired for gross misconduct. Chiyenda!!!

facta - 22 February 2014

ZRU is undergoing the same convulsions that shook Zimbabwe Cricket . The result will be the same. Cricket came to its senses in time. For the ZRU this may be terminal and Losson is the undertaker. He should have chosen any other reason for his gripes but to choose racism is the unkindest cut of all . So let's watch the game go down and out permanently.

Sad so sad - 22 February 2014

Shame on you Lawson... your leadership in crisis..let the children play

Fatima - 23 February 2014

He is actually not wanted by the blacks than the whites.

maita - 24 February 2014

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.