By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
ZIFA yesterday led the way as the football community, including a number of former Masvingo United players, have mourned the death of prominent businessman Tanda “Mhunga’’ Tavaruva.
The man who was the creative force behind Masvingo United died on Monday afternoon after a long battle with diabetes and hypertension.
He was 84.
“He lived for the game, loved the game and, most importantly, ensured it contributed to the welfare of thousands of families in and around Masvingo through his transport, farming and football investments,’’ ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, said in a statement.
“We cannot mention the Premier League and, indeed Zimbabwean football, without mentioning Mhunga and Masvingo United.
“Today we mourn the passing on of another giant in football.’’PSL chairman, Farai Jere, said they had lost a pillar of strength.
“So sad, we used to call him our father,’’ said Jere. “He was so passionate about football and his Masvingo United FC.
“He was always hands-on when it came to running the club he dearly loved. I used to visit him every time we wanted a player from his club.
“May his dear soul rest in peace.’’
Former PSL chairman, Twine Phiri, said football had lost its moral guardian.
“He was the old men we always referred to for guidance, when the going got tough, because he knew the terrain very well,’’ said Phiri.
“The good thing is that he was always ready to listen to you, to tell us where we were going wrong and what we should do to get things right.
“Yes, we were opponents on the pitch, especially when I was the CAPS United president and we were involved in that classic battle which spilled into the final day in 2005, but we respected each other off the pitch.’’
The Yuna Yuna former players took to their social media accounts to express their condolences to the man who laid a foundation to their careers.
South African-based Ovidy Karuru saying what made it even more painful was that they will not be able to mourn the man they regarded as their father due to the travel restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Tanda Tavaruva, Mudhara Mhunga. God, why now when we can’t travel to pay our last respects? I can’t be there to pay my last respects to the man who made me who I am today, no words.
“Rest in peace Baba vangu, another angel called to heaven,” wrote Karuru on his Facebook page.
Blessing Gumiso, who had a season at the side, described the late Tavaruva as a football-loving person who always cracked jokes with the players.
“Rest in peace our football father, it was a blessing playing a season for Masvingo, Una, Una. I shall forever cherish you.
“I remember when you used to come to camp with a big envelope full of bonuses asking for a win before games and you would crack jokes before leaving. “Until we meet again,” wrote Gumiso.
Other former players, like Tapiwa Khumbuyani, Johnson Zimbabe, India-based Simbarashe Gate also expressed their condolences.
Tavaruva owned and funded one of the most talented Masvingo United sides that came within whisker of landing the domestic Premiership title.
The squad had the likes of Tafadzwa Dube, George Magariro, Douglas Zimbago, Ovidy Karuru, Simbarashe Gate, Ferdinand Mwachindalo, Isaac Nyausaru, Itai Gwandu, Wonder Sithole, Godfrey Dondo and Costa Nhamoinesu. Yuna Yuna grabbed their first silverware in the top-flight league in 2002, when they beat Railstars 4-3 after penalty shootout in the ZIFA Unity Cup. The Herald