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‘Chiyangwa used to be our benefactor’

By Robson Sharuko

ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa used to be a Dynamos benefactor and during a golden period for the country’s biggest football club, which included an historic appearance in the ’98 CAF Champions League final, he privately showered the players with financial incentives to boost the Glamour Boys’ morale.

Former Dynamos captain Memory Mucherahowa during a BBC interview
Former Dynamos captain Memory Mucherahowa during a BBC interview

Critics of the Harare businessman, who powered to a landslide victory in the battle for the ZIFA presidency in December 2015 after polling 27 votes more than his nearest rival Trevor Carelse-Juul, have always labelled Chiyangwa an outsider who was not part of the domestic football family before his plunge into the elections.

Chiyangwa claimed, in the lead-up to that poll, he was also involved, in the background, in the affairs of his hometown clubs in Chegutu, Chinhoyi United who used to play in Division Two and also used to run a Division Three football franchise at his farm and, given his role in the game’s grassroots structures, he was qualified to fight for the ZIFA presidency.

Others even said he wasn’t a football-person. But former DeMbare captain Memory Mucherahowa, who led the Glamour Boys to three league championship titles in 1994, 1995 and 1997 and blazed a trail as he led his troops to the final of the CAF Champions League in 1998 which they lost, in a cloud of controversy to Ivorian giants ASEC Mimosas, has revealed Chiyangwa used to be part of the Glamour Boys’ extended family.

In his autobiography, Soul of Seven Million Dreams, which was written in conjunction with Zimbabwean sports journalist Albert Marufu, who is based in England, Mucherahowa — who is also based in the United Kingdom — reveals that:

* He used to get money from Chiyangwa which the Harare businessmen would give him, as team captain, to go and give to the Dynamos players to boost their morale ahead of some big games.
* He did not know Chiyangwa personally back then but only knew him as a Dynamos fan who, after splashing his cash on the team, would always demand that the Glamour Boys go and win their matches.
* At one stage, in 2000, Chiyangwa simply went to his car, opened the boot of the vehicle and took out Z$20 000, which he gave Mucherahowa to go and share with his teammates and, also ensure, they win their forthcoming match.
* One of the Harare businessman’s financial injections came ahead of Dynamos’ 2000 Madison Trophy final showdown against Amazulu, then a major force on the domestic front, which the Glamour Boys went on to win 1-0 to lift the trophy.
* He was not ‘’surprised’’, years later, to learn that Chiyangwa had become the ZIFA president because he had always known him as someone who was “passionate about the local game from way back in the day when I was still in the nation of Zimbabwe.’’
* He always shared the money equally among his teammates even though he could have taken the bounty to his home and use it the way he wanted without it triggering any problems for him since the financial injections were not done publicly and, on all occasions, he was the only one who knew how much had been donated.
* He even made sure that even winger Simon Chuma, who was battling injury back then, would also get his fair share of the financial windfall although he was not part of the team that was battling in the trenches.
* He also received money from a number of businessmen, who wanted to see Dynamos doing very well, to give to the Glamour Boys as incentives to boost their morale and they include Philip Mugadza, who ran a number of hair salons in the capital and was also into property, Higson Hamandawana, the late Victor Nyaumwe and Victor Mandaza.

“Dynamos FC is arguably the largest sporting organisation in Zimbabwe and being the team’s captain is never an easy job,’’ Mucherahowa writes in his book.

‘’Steering the institution from the cockpit as skipper of the ship had several lessons that I learnt as well as experiences that I gathered and look back at, no doubt.

“There is so much politics at the club. Pressure comes from all angles, ranging from players who think they are better than you to the multitude of supporters who are believed to be more than seven million.

“Leading a pack of good players such as (Vitalis) Takawira, (Claudius) Zviripayi, whom I believe to be among the best players ever to don the Dynamos jersey, Tauya Murewa, Francis Shonhayi and a host of others, I had to be strong.

“However, not all decisions that I made as the Dynamos FC captain were popular with the rest of the players. I also faced a problem with players asking me to go to the executive and demand money in spite of results.

“I would reason that we do not have the basis of argument since the team will not be playing well. That was very unpopular with some of the senior players.

“‘We need more money. The ground (stadium) was packed last weekend’, some of them would reason. I would tell them that I would look stupid in the eyes of the executive demanding money when results were not coming.

“I always put the interests of the players and the club first where there were reasons to complain or raise the red flag with the executive, I would gladly do so. In all this I had the future of the club in mind and would not tolerate anything that threatened to destroy it.’’

Mucherahowa says he wasn’t a selfish person. “Had I been a selfish person, I think I would be one of the richest people in Zimbabwe,” he says in his book.

“I received money from a number of businessmen such as Higson Hamandawana, Philip Chiyangwa, Victor Nyaumwe, Victor Mandaza and Philip Mugadza.

“I would take the money to the players and we would share equally. In 2000, ahead of the Madison Trophy final against the now defunct Amazulu, Philip Chiyangwa gave me money to give to the boys to motivate them and it was shared equally.

“I did not know Chiyangwa on personal terms, but just as a Dynamos FC supporter. I asked him to give the boys something to motivate them ahead of the match.

“He asked me to come to his car, opened the boot and took out Z$20 000 to give to the boys. ‘Go and win boys. If you win I will give you more,’ he said.

“Years later Chiyangwa, the philanthropist and businessman would be at the helm of ZIFA, the football mother body in Zimbabwe, and I was not surprised after having known that he was passionate about the local game from way back in the day when I was still in the nation of Zimbabwe.

“If I was selfish, like some of my teammates, I could have just taken the money for my personal use. I shared it equally among the players. Even Simon Chuma, who was injured, got his share. No room for selfishness in leadership. Be the people’s servant.” The Herald