By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Sports |
The US$5.3 million sponsorship over three seasons of the country’s two biggest football clubs, Dynamos and Highlanders by Sakunda Holdings, owned by local tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei, has been viewed as a way of trying to sanitise ‘proceeds of looting’ by the controversial businessman.
On Tuesday night, in addition to the US$5.3 million sponsorship to the two big clubs, Tagwirei also donated US$180 000 from his pocket for buying houses for Dynamos legend Moses Chunga and his Highlanders counterpart Madinda Ndlovu.
The fuel mogul also donated US$120 000 for the buying of a house for the late Dynamos star George Shaya’s family. On top of that, coaches and captains for both Dynamos and Highlanders also received cars from Tagwirei.
The state of the art function was held at the Meikles Hotel in Harare.
But observers have criticised Tagwirei’s move claiming that he wants to sanitise the money he allegedly looted from public funds. This is because Tagwirei and his companies were listed by research entities as having captured the struggling economy.
In an interview, political activist Pride Mkono said Tagwirei’s sponsorship of the clubs was meant to clean his image and that of his companies who have since been put under international sanctions.
“The Highlanders and Dynamos sponsorship deal by Sakunda Holdings which is owned by Kudakwashe Tagwirei who is a very controversial businessman accused in the Santry Report for State capture and corrupt business practices and as well looting of Zimbabwe’s public resources. It’s a way of trying to gain social capital so that he can clean his image and that of his company in the public view in Zimbabwe,” Mkono said.
He added that Tagwirei was actually campaigning for Zanu PF through his sponsorships ahead of 2023 elections because the two clubs have a huge following.
“But it must also be seen as a direct strategic positioning by Zanu PF leadership to try and campaign silently to certain constituencies that otherwise would not vote for them, especially urbanites.
“If you look at Highlanders and Dynamos, they command a lot of support but as we know, Zimbabweans have a tendency of accepting money and voting differently because they understand that their teams are broke and therefore they would accept the money that Tagwirei is offering but still view him critically when it comes to his businesses and the party he supports,” he said.
Prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono blasted the Sports and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry for allowing Tagwirei to donate the ‘proceeds of looting’.
“It breaks my heart that Kuda Tagwirei and his criminal syndicate LOOTED public funds meant for hospitals and schools, then some citizens celebrate when he tries to cleanse his image by sponsoring football!
“This should be the lowest point for Kirsty Coventry, it shows a lack of values and a total breakdown of citizen political consciousness!
“This money was stolen from the pensions of your parents and grandparents who today are receiving literally peanuts!
“It is you who are sponsoring Dynamos and Highlanders through paying hospital bills for your parents and school fees for your relatives because the money was looted by Tagwirei and his criminal syndicate,” Chin’ono said.
He added that it “is sad that we have citizens celebrating these looters, failing to understand what it really means!
“They loot your money, come back at election time and sponsor a club and then expect you to be so foolish to vote for them on that account!
“A man steals your only cow that gives your family milk, he then gives milk to your favorite football club and you celebrate? They must think Zimbabweans are idiots!”
A recent report titled “Shadows and Shell Games: Uncovering an Offshore Business Empire in Zimbabwe”, by the Sentry, revealed key details of Tagwirei’s business dealings alleging that he presides over a sprawling network of more than 40 companies spanning the oil, mining, banking, logistics, transportation, and import/export, which have been linked to alleged corrupt activities and state capture. Nehanda Radio