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Zimbabwe Saints set for comeback

Former Premiership champions Zimbabwe Saints are set to bounce back from the dead with the help of investors who have shown interest to acquire shares from the Bulawayo club.

Ebson “Sugar” Muguyo
Ebson “Sugar” Muguyo

Chauya Chikwata collapsed three years ago because of financial challenges but the club’s former players and stakeholders have stepped up efforts to resuscitate one of the country’s oldest football institutions.

According to minutes from a recent meeting chaired by one of the clubs’ directors, the legendary Ebson “Sugar” Muguyo, the club’s stakeholders reached a consensus that they should revisit the idea of community ownership.

Club chairman, Columbus Makumbe, who excused himself from the meeting, yesterday confirmed that the club was on a revival path.

The shareholders accepted and confirmed that the club’s revival can only be achieved through a shareholding route process.

They also agreed that there was need for a step by step process to revive and rebuild the Saints brand, which has been in existence for the past 87 years.

The chairman was tasked to set up an interim committee to help build the club.

The meeting was attended by several club members who included Vincent Pamire, Gibson Homela, Martin Mabvira, Lazarus Magwaro, Cleto Mapfumo, Ambrose Boora and Innocent Kurwa.

“The chairman Mr Makumbe sent his apologies as he failed to attend and had asked Mr Muguyo to chair the meeting and explain to the meeting what is expected.

“He explained that the young people in and outside the country, especially those based in the UK, want to help to get the club back. In reply to what authority the chairman called the shareholder’s meeting, it was explained that Mr Makumbe and Mr Muguyo were given letters of appointment as directors.

“The chairman advised that there are people who want to invest their money in the club but only through a shareholding process.

“The shareholders present discussed the pros and cons of the shareholding route vis-a-vis the community ownership route.

“Mr Pamire proposed to follow and continue this route after Mr Muguyo had explained its success when the club played in Division One earlier in the new millennium. Mr Kurwa seconded the proposal and members passed the motion by consensus.”

Chauya Chikwata, whose last PSL sojourn was in 2011, were thrown out of Division One in 2014 for failing to pay $2 500 in affiliation fees.

They have been on the sidelines before registering in the Zifa Bulawayo Province Division Two League in 2015, where they finished 13th.

Zimbabwe Saints’ manoeuvres to play in Division One in 2016 hit a brick wall after failing to raise funds to acquire the Quelaton franchise, which had been surrendered by Nust.

Despite their woes, Saints occupy a special place in the country’s football history.

They won the league championship in 1977 and 1988 and had numerous other silverware in their cabinet before they were relegated three times.

They also produced a number of national team players such as Ronald “Gidiza” Sibanda, Henry “The Bully” McKop, Pernell McKop, Muzondiwa Mugadza, Ephraim “Rock of Gibraltar” Chawanda, Joseph Machingura, John Sibanda, Melusi Nkiwane, Gibson Homela and Agent “Ajira” Sawu.

Chikwata last played in the Premier Soccer League in 2011 after they had bought Chitungwiza-based Eagles’ franchise at the behest of businessman Felix Dzumbunu following their relegation to the lower league in 2006.

“We are good to go and Zimbabwe Saints will soon be back playing football in Zimbabwe this year,” said Makumbe.

“We are prepared to start playing from any league but our ultimate goal is to get our place back in the Premier Soccer League and to re-establish ourselves among the country’s soccer powerhouses like Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United.” The Chronicle