Of sport and politics…both leading organisations deep in debt

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PHILIP CHIYANGWA, incumbent ZIFA boss and Tawengwa Mukuhlani Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) have something in common.
The duo lead two of the most followed sporting disciplines — soccer for Chiyangwa and cricket for Mukuhlani.
Both stood for office in Mashonaland West Province under ZANU PF and won. They are now confirmed parliamentarians.
Chiyangwa is the new House of Assembly member for Zvimba South Constituency while the cricket boss will represent Mhondoro-Ngezi Constituency in the August House.
Both lead under-fire governing bodies, ZIFA and ZC.
Both lead organisations deep in debt.
Negative publicity has put both organisations in the spotlight.
ZC has a debt amounting to around US$18 million while ZIFA is reeling under a US$7 million debt – though reported it now stands at just above US$2 million by The Sunday Mail – owed to various creditors.
Mukuhlani, a pharmacist, promised to reduce the debt of ZC just after his appointment as ZC chair.
Mukuhlani and his board have presented their financial case to the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Both were appointed into office in 2015.
Chiyangwa took over from Cuthbert Dube while Mukuhlani replaced Harare lawyer Wilson Manase.
Mukuhlani has been in the ZC structures for more than eight years and served as vice-chair under Peter Chingoka.
Flamboyant businessman Chiyangwa came in with not much background in the game, at a national level.
Though the property magnate was involved in the running of a small football club in Chinhoyi, he managed to outwit former ZIFA boss Trevor Caresle-Juul in poll.
Boycotts and player strikes threatened both games as players demanded payment of their dues before they could take it to the field.
Apart from that it is during their tenure that a lot has happened in the coaching departments of both sports.
Cricket has had the highest number of coach turnover.
Since the pharmacist’s appointment, four coaches have lost their jobs with the senior men’s cricket team.
Soccer has had two coaches.
Mukuhlani’s appointment saw him backing Dav Whatmore as new coach for the national team. But within 12 months of the new chairman’s reign, Whatmore was shown the exit.
He was replaced by South African Makhaya Ntini, later ‘shown the exit’ to pave way for Heath Streak.
The former Zimbabwe skipper was tasked to qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup hosted by England and Wales but failed and was fired together with his backing staff.
Indian coach Lalchand Rajput is the incumbent at ZC on interim basis.
The new coach has seen Zimbabwe hosting the Tri-series with Australia and Pakistan in Twenty20 cricket series in Harare.
Zimbabwe lost all matches. They then hosted Pakistan in Bulawayo in five One Day International (ODI) matches which the visitors won 5-0.
In soccer, the major highlight during Chiyangwa’s tenure was the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Equatorial Guinea.
It was a catastrophic appearance as the biennial soccer showcase claimed the scalp of Calisto Pasuwa who had secured the team’s qualification with a game to spare.
Willard Katsande then retired from international football after the AFCON.
Pasuwa was blamed for the team’s performance at AFCON despite lack of support.
Zimbabwe failed to get enough game time to prepare for the tournament. They were in Group B with Senegal, Algeria and Tunisia.
He was replaced by Sunday Chidzambwa, whose appointment to the national team is not new.
Chidzambwa is the first Zimbabwean coach to see the national team qualifying for the continental soccer showcase.
He has been tasked again to guide the team during the 2019 AFCON finals slated for June 2019 in Cameroon. Zimbabwe has five more fixtures to play to qualify.
They will play Congo (Brazzaville) next month, DRC (away) in October, before a reverse fixture in Harare in the same month. November will see Zimbabwe travelling to Liberia before the last group fixture in March 2019.
However, Chiyangwa may not see the full qualification of the national team as ZIFA president as there might be conflict of interest as FIFA discourages political interference in football matters.

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