Is Banda doing the right thing in engaging Chiyangwa?


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Acting ZIFA president Gift Banda looked calm and focussed when he arrived at ZIFA House in his sleek Ferrari three weeks ago.

The luxury sports car, which brought Livingstone Avenue to a standstill until it drove inside Zifa House, probably lacked one thing for onlookers to mistake Banda’s arrival, for that of a rap star— the sound of Dr Dree and Snoop Dogg’s hit single ‘Still Dree’.

Part of the song which says “since the last time you heard from me, I lost some friends” resonates with Banda being suspended by the Felton Kamambo-led board in 2019, just a month after replacing Omega Sibanda as the association’s vice president.

Banda is now at the helm of the country’s football governing body, through one of the resolutions made at the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held on April 23.

He announced to the nation on that day that under his leadership, ZIFA would engage the association’s former presidents, to ‘tap the knowledge and the wisdom they have.’

True to his word, Banda held a consultative meeting with former Zifa and Cosafa president Philip Chiyangwa this week, a move which generated a lot of debate on social media. 

While wisdom is the reward of experience and should be shared, Banda ought to know that Chiyangwa, in his tenure as ZIFA president, despite overseeing 2017 Afcon qualification and Cosafa Cup success,  did a lot of things which brought the association’s name into disrepute.

Chiyangwa reportedly used soccer balls donated by La Liga for development of grassroots football, for personal use. If Banda is passionate about the development of football as grassroots level as he claims, he should know that story.

Banda must also be aware of the fact that Chiyangwa, in 2016, forced ZIFA to move from it’s offices, to his private offices in Highlands, at the cost USD10 000 per month.

Surely, Banda must be aware that Chiyangwa tried to change the association’s name from ZIFA to National Football Association of Zimbabwe (NFAZ) so that it becomes debt-free overnight, a plan which not only failed by was ridiculed across the African continent.

Some fans criticised Banda for roping in a man who equally played a part in causing the mess that Zimbabwean football finds itself in right now, but the Njube Lobengula legislator insists his administration made the right choice in consulting ‘Phidza’.

“Hon. Dr Phillip Chiyangwa has done a lot in a short period of time since we assumed office. He is the person who opened the door for us to go and meet the COSAFA President and he is opening more channels for us to engage the leadership on the continent,” said Banda.

“We know with him next to us, we will not fail. He has assured us that he will hold our hands and walk with us as we traverse this difficult journey that we find ourselves in,” he added.

Chiyangwa lost the most powerful position in Zimbabwean football when Kamambo beat him in the ZIFA election in December 2018.

The country’s senior men’s national soccer team, the Warriors, qualified for the Afcon finals twice under Kamambo’s leadership, but Chiyangwa insists ‘nothing’ was done since he left.

“From when I became president, my spirit was to ensure that we play football. We can fight but let’s play football. But unfortunately, in the last years that I have left, it was always fights and nothing really happened,” said Chiyangwa.

The Zvimba South legislator believes he can be useful in ensuring that the ban imposed on Zimbabwe by FIFA for ‘third party interference’, is lifted.

“Turning to the issue of the ban, that is what I want to work with them (the ZIFA board), government and ensure that the ban is lifted and football is played,” Chiyangwa said.

While seeking for advice from those who have been in your position before is an act of modesty, Banda ought to carefully sift wisdom from ignorance.

PICTURE CREDIT: Libertino