Zim's Afcon bid doomed

HARARE - Zimbabweans must not get too excited at the prospect of hosting the 2017 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals or else they will be greatly disappointed.

Last week, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced that seven countries namely Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan and Zimbabwe had submitted their bids to host the tournament.

Caf will unveil the successful bid at the start of next year.

Many football-loving Zimbabweans hope that the country’s bid will be successful especially after the recent disappointment brought about by the Warriors’ failure to qualify for the last five editions of the Afcon finals.

Until Caf name the winning bid next year, most Zimbabweans will be keeping their fingers crossed.

However, if truth be told, the country does not have a chance of winning the right to host this tournament.

When it comes to matters of national interest, Zimbabweans have a tendency of failing to accept the truth.

Anyone who tries to talk sense or goes against the popular opinion is labelled a “sell-out”, “unpatriotic” or a “regime change agent”.

I’m pretty sure I will be labelled an “enemy of football” once this article is published.

First and foremost, there was no concerted effort from all the relevant stakeholders to ensure that Zimbabwe submitted a solid bid.

The bid was hurriedly submitted without subjecting it to test among key local players or even engaging experts such as the South Africa’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) which supervised the 2010 World Cup successfully hosted by our neighbours across the Limpopo River.

LOC worked well with the Fifa inspectorate team and all the stadia were built on time — leaving South Africa with the task of  proving a memorable show piece, And it was memorable indeed!

So, when making a bid, we would have hoped that Zimbabwe would, apart from involving key stakeholders on time, tried to tap into the expertise of the former members of 2010 LOC.

After Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter Mzembi had made his proclamation before Parliament, there was never any attempt made to get all the relevant stakeholders to sit down and make sure Zimbabwe’s bid covers all the facets required by Caf.

The leading players in hospitality, telecommunications, local government and even security needed to be consulted and involved in crafting Zimbabwe’s bid document.

These are the key players who are needed to host a successful tournament and their input was required.

However, it seems only one person was playing the leading role without any supporting cast to draft this document. 

Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze has been running the show regarding this bid process. 

Even up to this day, Zifa president Cuthbert Dube has not come out to make a public statement in support of this bid.

Although Mashingaidze is well-versed in matters regarding football, there was a need to incorporate other persons with expert knowledge in the field mentioned above.

Even the bid document has not been made public to the generality of Zimbabweans to see whether indeed the country has submitted a concrete bid.

To host such a big tournament, the country needs to spend millions of taxpayers’ money to renovate and upgrade all the facilities to be used during the tournament.

But in this case, the public is in the dark on how their hard-earned money is going to be spent in the event that Zimbabwe wins the right to host the 2017 Afcon finals.

To host the 2013 Afcon finals, South Africa spent at least $53 million.

The figure was considerably low due to the fact that three years earlier the country had spent another $3 billion to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The chunk of $53 million went towards covering costs associated with security, protocol and migration services for the 2013 Afcon finals.

In Zimbabwe’s case a lot more money will be required considering that most of the country’s infrastructure must be upgraded drastically to host this tournament.


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