Chivayo deserves credit

JOHANNESBURG - When everyone must be applauding the recent rise of Zimbabwean football, one issue which hogged headlines this past week has been that of one Wicknell Chivayo and his “sponsorship” to the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).The thing is, since storming into the limelight late last year when from nowhere he announced a staggering $1 million donation; sorry he called it sponsorship; there has been talk regarding this matter.

Just to give context to this; for those in the know about sport sponsorship; it is about two partners getting into an agreement which will be beneficial to both sides.

For example, the South African Football Association (Safa) last week entered into a sponsorship agreement with the South African Airways (Saa) worth over R10 million over the next three years.

While Safa will enjoy the financial benefits, it has marketing obligations to make sure that the company gets part of its investment back through marketing visibility, media publicity both electronically and print and various other promotional features which make the company visible among its stakeholders.

Saa will also use the game of football, with its massive reach to send out its messaging to those it does business with. That is the mutual benefit the two will accrue.

There is no sponsorship which comes without these legally binding agreements. Otherwise, it is not sponsorship; it becomes a mere donation because the one who gives money has no legal obligation to keep part of his bargain.

That is what is happening between Zifa and Chivayo.

People who are in the know regarding sponsorship processes where stunned when a one-page document was presented to the media as the sponsorship agreement.

It does not work like that in this modern world.

Having said that, I think with the way Zimbabwe has lagged behind with regards to corporate mechanisms, few raised eyebrows with this arrangement.

But it was always going to come back to haunt either the sponsor or the beneficiary.

Now, Chivayo has gone or is threatening to withhold his cash, something which could have been avoided had there been proper paperwork.

That however, does not take away the goodwill of this young millionaire.

For someone to donate $1 million whether it was from ill-gotten proceeds or otherwise, needs to be applauded. After all, no one will ever tell you how they got rich, so on this one let’s leave the young Chivayo alone.

He has extended families for goodness’ sake and could easily have donated that money towards that direction.

He has already splashed more than half-a-million towards salaries and other benefits to Zifa, and for that, Zimbabwe as a whole should give Chivayo a thumps up.

I heard one Jonathan Moyo say Zifa must appeal for corporate sponsors but the harsh reality is with the stressed economic situation at home, no company has money to spend on sponsorship.

With most companies closing down and struggling to make ends meet, one area which will always be the last on their minds of companies the world over is sponsorship.

Zimbabwe has lagged behind professionalising their sporting codes and still heavily relies on businessmen using their own resources.

So, Moyo is way off the mark when he talks of corporate sponsorship in a struggling economy like Zimbabwe. Corporate is just a name in Zimbabwe, there is no money to talk about in the industry to sponsor football.

Most business people in Zimbabwe are today licking their wounds after pumping millions of their family’s money into sport.

The likes of Lovemore “Gigima” Musindo of Fire Batteries, Ronnie Chihota, Ginger Chinguwa, Ben Muchedzi, Lecturer Mpala, Chris Sambo of Blackpool, the late Eric and Lizzie Rosen of Motor Action.

There are also the likes of Delma Lupepe of Amazulu, Thomas Mapfumo’s Sporting Lions, Wieslaw Grabowski of Darryn T; the list is endless.

Chivayo is among those who single-handedly thought of doing social corporate responsibility on their own and the insult he got this week is somewhat unfair. But I presume that has become the Zimbabwe culture.

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