Chiyangwa gets boost for Zifa

HARARE - Zifa presidential aspirant and maverick businessman — Phillip Chiyangwa — whose quest to run the country’s football affairs is facing resistance from old school soccer timers, has received backing of the national supporters to lead the country’s supreme body.

The flamboyant businessman and politician pitched his bid two weeks ago following the ouster of former Zifa president Cuthbert Dube who was accused of presiding over the collapse of local football.

But Chiyangwa, a fiery politician and divisive figure, is facing resistance from a section of self-styled Zimbabwean football power brokers who are banking on Section (4) of the Zifa constitution which bars any prospective candidate with no less than five years in football, from contesting.

“The members of the executive committee shall have already been active in football administration for at least five years, must not have been previously found guilty of a criminal offence as defined under national criminal law and have residency within the territory of Zifa,” reads the section.

Yesterday, the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association (ZNSSA) threw their weight behind Chiyangwa.
“Chiyangwa is the right candidate to lead Zifa and has our blessings,” said ZNSSA founding president Eddie “Mboma” Nyatanga.

“We don’t want recycled leadership, we don’t want chancers, but people with business ideas and who can press the right buttons to unlock funds.

“Chiyangwa fits the billing and has a proven record in business and has been involved in football in Mashonaland West Province. Those who are sneering at his bid don’t have all the facts,” Nyatanga told the Daily News.

According to information gathered by the Daily News which also tallies with Nyatanga’s claims, Chiyangwa was a director of Chinhoyi United for six years — between 1993 to 1999 before assuming the same role at Old Citrus Farm between 2001 and 2003.

Old Citrus Farm was named after one of his farms in Chinhoyi.  

“We need to move forward and revolutionise our football not this mudslinging and scepticism which is coming from people who have had opportunities to run football but failed because of their own inadequacies,” said Nyatanga.

“The structures are already there, we need Chiyangwa to provide leadership and bring his own business philosophy into football. I have worked with him in the Affirmative Action Group and the results of his influence are there.”

Friends of the Warriors on Saturday gave Chiyangwa gushing praise for his swift intervention which saw the fans travelling to Lesotho for yesterday’s Chan second leg of the final qualifier between the hosts and the Warriors.

“We are impressed by Chiyangwa and his actions. He has bought fuel for the supporters to travel to Lesotho and we are really grateful for that. He is a man of action and we believe football right now needs a man of action to lead it,” said Friends of the Warriors secretary-general Zivanai Muwashu.

“Mavotes ese kuna Chiyangwa (all votes to Chiyangwa). We are solidly behind Chiyangwa’s bid. There are many who claim to have solutions to problems in football but when it comes to showing action, they don’t turn up.”

Chiyangwa could face a strong challenge from Trevor Carelse-Juul who almost defeated Dube in the last Zifa elections despite entering the race very late.

But Carelse-Juul has not yet indicated whether he will run for the Zifa presidency although he has a group of yesteryear football administrators campaigning for him.

It is not clear whether Carelse-Juul was cleared of any wrongdoing in the construction of Angwa City where his company SBT Juul Africa was part of the probe into how the tender was floated and won.

Carelse-Juul relocated to South Africa at the height of the probe and had been almost forgotten until he launched his bid to unseat Dube in the Zifa elections.

While Chiyangwa is relatively a lightweight in football, his supporters and campaign team are banking on his brutish competitive side.

He is not plunging into uncharted waters.

“Chiyangwa is competitive and is not afraid to take challenges. Right now, we need someone like him to take on the challenges troubling football. He must not be dismissed simply because he is not liked,” said Nyatanga.

Away from football, Chiyangwa has a strong record in music and boxing.

At one time he ran the largest pool of boxers, where he raised the likes of Gilbert “Giro” Josamu, Ambrose Mlilo and the late Proud “Kilimanjaro” Chinembiri, the man mountain who became the All-Africa Heavy Weight boxing champion and went on to challenge Lennox Lewis for the World Heavy Weight Championship (WBC/WBA).

Boxing led to him being nicknamed “Captain Fiasco”.
Under his promotion company known as Furious Fist Productions, he rocked Harare, Lusaka and London and cut his niche on this cultural sojourn.

During 2007 and 2008, he (through Pinnacle and Zeco) became the single major advertiser and partner of ZBH/ZTV to bring live La Liga and the British Barclays Premier Leagues, to millions of local fans.

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