'Let's work together'

HARARE - I have triumphed in a national election that was more vicious, gruelling, bitter, most personalised, in the shortest electioneering period and above all employing the full arsenal of traditional media and multi-media stratagems in ways that have never been seen before in Africa.

This election had more intrigue, subterfuge, and drama than the normal national general elections — and I won.

I won conclusively and resoundingly without fear or favour because the football family desired a break from business as usual.

What won the day was the greatness of the desire to see accountability, transparency and normal business principles reign over the smallness of our petty and contrived differences.

The contest of ideas truly went to the wire, but I cherish the clean mandate to put into practice my well-crafted, inclusive, sustainable and well thought-out ideas on taking our football forward.

I salute and applaud the Zifa councillors for giving me the space to be heard, grow in my understanding of the tasks ahead, and in the process becoming a true partner and friend to most of them.

I drew strength and inspiration from my family. I could have not made it without my unflinching allies in politics and business. It was truly uncomfortable to bear the pain of most personal onslaughts on my family’s efforts, dignity and quiet courage to see me through this process.

I truly thank them for their tenacity. While it is always the refuge of the scoundrels and uninformed among us to believe that elections are won by money, the reality is much further than this simplistic understanding of the electoral process.

Good strategy does triumph over boatloads of cash any day. Kune vamwe vakadyiwa, nekupfekwa, nekunwiwa zvekuenda pawheelchair yekubroker (There are some who went for broke, bribing people) before me and lost many elections in spite of all that.

In the contest for the Zifa presidency I was the rank outsider — indeed more disadvantaged like a prophet at a beer hall brawl, and still pulled it off.

From the combat of ideas so passionately, and publicly laid out and sometimes most personal, we have a task before us to rebuild, restore and reposition a powerful football family and legacy so conceived and so dedicated, that it can long endure.

From the pain and acrimony of disunity we are rededicating ourselves to the great task before us. We cannot fail, must not fail and will not fail Zimbabwe in this most sacred trust of presiding over an institution so central to the creation and maintenance of our sense of unity and pride as a nation.

Elections come and go for a season but the sacred trust in God and country long endures and springs eternal. We need each other’s need to have a football institution that is structured, operating and producing clear results that we all can be proud of.

Like any normal person, I had my moments of doubt, and this victory has most invigorated me. I discovered that I had more fight in me as the intensity of recriminations from my detractors betrayed their great fear and respect in my capacity to be a game changer.

I thank my enemies for going the distance with me as it makes my victory all the sweeter. Today, there are no enemies and supporters, but members of the great football family, and I commit myself to win their trust, favour and above all respect and cooperation.

I have a better track record, more political and business game than Donald Trump and it served me well when the going got tough.

In victory I extend a hand of gratitude and friendship to the worthy and committed candidates (my good brothers Trevor Carelse-Juul, Leslie Gwindi and James Takavada) who all fought a good fight and had the best interests of the sport at heart.

In humility I ask for their continued counsel and contribution in making this a historic break for accountability, productivity and excellence in our football.

There is no loser as football is the great winner today as we embark on an exciting but gruelling journey to reclaim the lost glories of our most favourite and treasured pastime.

One Zifa, one football family, one nation under God — we shall have a new birth of sporting pride and a new business template for doing things.

I shall not betray the sacred trust that the football family has bestowed on me, and will never take this mandate for granted.

Thank you and stay blessed. Ndinokudai mese (I love you all) and together we can and should do more for our country, our people and our football.

* Philip Chiyangwa is the newly-elected president of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and is writing in his own capacity.

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