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Blatter’s jam-packed visit


Fifa president Sepp Blatter jetted into the country on Monday morning just before 9am and immediately embarked on what was probably his longest day in football history.

Immediately after his arrival at the Harare International Airport, Blatter, who was met by his host Zifa president Cuthbert Dube among other officials, was whisked off in a gold Mercedes Benz amid high security in a convoy of shiny black ML Benz cars and twin cabs to the Rainbow Towers Hotel.

Like any other person of such high status, Blatter was offered the best in terms of security in the country and the best suite at the hotel.

He emerged from the lifts, accompanied by Zifa vice-presidents Ndumiso Gumede and Kenny Marange, headed for The Cinderella where his host Dube awaited him at 9:44am for the closed-door session.

Dube addressed the gathering followed by Blatter before they had a break before leaving the hotel at 11:15am headed for the Zifa Village in Mt Hampden.

As the convoy snaked its way out of the hotel complex, two police escorts cleared the way and it was smooth sailing from one, two, through all red robots into Greencroft and the Kariba road, the roundabout and finally to Mt Hampden, while residents stood in awe by the road side and cars had to scramble to apply breaks and park their cars.

At 1134hrs, Blatter and his Fifa crew had to negotiate the most difficult short route, a strip earth (dusty) road which represented a rather neglected place.

And Blatter took note: “You cannot have such a good environment and not have access to it. I will talk to the President.”

For five minutes, Blatter, Dube, Gumede, Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Stephen Mahere were involved in the ground-breaking ceremony before the Fifa boss went for a photo shoot with Kuwadzana Primary School pupils and staff who were playing football in the dusty field.

The whole visit lasted 19 minutes and at 11:53am, Blatter, still amid tight security and the entire convoy, were back on the road, this time for lunch at the hotel in preparation for the 1400hrs meeting with President Mugabe.

Instructions were clear from the start, everybody had to be gathered at 1345hrs and the NewsDay crew duly arrived at 1337hrs, followed by the Blatter convoy at 1345hrs.

President Robert Mugabe arrived at the exact set time: 1400hrs, took a breather and at 1411hrs posed for pictures with his guest, Dube and Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart and Tourism minister Walter Mzembi.

The closed-door session started at 1415hrs while the rest of the journalists enjoyed drinks outside with Fifa officials and security personnel on the lush greens of State House.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba kept the scribes updated on all developments and duly informed waiting journalists at around 1445hrs that the President and Blatter were now coming out of their meeting and would talk briefly to them.

After the address, Blatter’s programme continued with a trip to Rufaro Stadium for the Cosafa Women’s championships match between Zimbabwe and Malawi, which the hosts won 8-2. At half-time, Blatter officially handed over the artificial turf to Zifa.

But that was not before he shook hands with dressed-to-kill Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who spotted a black beret and a long black overcoat that could make American actor Samuel Jackson turn green with envy.

From the match venue, just after 1700hrs, again still amid-tight security, Blatter visited Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at his home. The Prime Minister had just had a bobbejaan applied to his mouth to remove a troublesome tooth.

Blatter then addressed a Press conference after 6pm before dinner an hour later.

On Tuesday morning, he was ready to leave for Durban, South Africa, and as per scheduled time, in the company of Dube, headed off to the Harare International Airport at exactly 10:15am, bidding farewell to Zimbabwe after a long one day tour.

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