IF President Robert Mugabe stays true to his May 2012 pledge, then Zimbabwe will finally have a new minister of Sport.
REPORT BY WELLINGTON TONI,SPORTS EDITOR
And even before the Cabinet has been announced, calls are growing louder from all sections of this vital industry to make this dream come true, not only as a source of entertainment, but also as way of creating employment.
Other countries in Southern Africa, notably South Africa and Zambia, have vibrant sports ministries that have grown the industry to higher levels.
For Zimbabwe, the coming in into the new Parliament of sports-oriented people has created a new buzz and to say there is no canvassing from various organisations and individuals would be an understatement of the year.
From Hurungwe West MP-elect Temba Mliswa and Chris Chitindi to Ray Kazembe and Tapiwa Matangaidze, names have been flying all over for possible inclusion when the new Cabinet is finally named.
Mliswa has already courted controversy by stating that Zimbabwe needs to “suspend” itself from international sports for the next five years in order to rebuild, when Mugabe is advocating for creation of employment.
The former Warriors fitness trainer says isolation would make Zimbabwe much stronger like South Africa was during the apartheid era and believes that only junior competitors should be allowed to take part while the senior teams are frozen out.
Chitindi, who will represent Muzarabani South, has said they will actively push for the formation of this ministry while Kazembe, a former Dynamos secretary-
general, says they will look at problems besetting sport from a different angle.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe Football Trust chairperson Tshinga Dube said having a separate ministry would move sports forward.
“We are not giving sports the attention it deserves that is why we are always performing dismally even at the Olympics. Most nations invest in sport, not only in football, because it is also a form of employment creation and business.
“If sport remains part of the Education ministry, it becomes a subsidiary of a very important sector and cannot compete with resources with that sector. We hope the President will favour us with a sports ministry.”
Matangaidze, the former Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairperson and current chairperson and chief executive of Trinket Goldstein International, is tipped for a post in the new Cabinet and while he refused to comment, his credentials make him a strong candidate.
He was PSL boss between 2006 and 2010, when they published the organisation’s financial accounts and initiated the current Supersport television rights deal and the board of governors structure. He is also a former sponsor of Eiffel Wildcats.
He has held various management positions at FSI Agricom Holdings as managing director, divisional managing director at TH Zimbabwe, chief executive of Morewear Industries, general manager of Plant and Equipment (Komatsu), Caltex and Delta.
Zifa supporters liaison officer Simeon Jamanda said: “We need the ministry as a way forward and we would back Matangaidze for the post. He has the experience and knowledge of not only football, but a lot of other sports as well and we believe he can turn around the industry.”
Neighbouring countries like South Africa, who have the vibrant Fikile Mbalula, have benefited immensely from inside lobbying for budgetary support from the Government. In Zimbabwe, sport has been bundled together with Education, Arts and Culture, depriving it of the much-needed financial support.
On October 1 and 2, South Africa will host the Soccerex African Forum in Durban where Chishimba Kambwili, Zambia Youth and Sport minister will present a paper entitled “Sport and Government”.
The panel will be analysing and explaining the most pressing issues affecting sport on the continent and how their respective governments are introducing regulations to help facilitate growth and investment. The other sports ministers confirmed so far include: Protais Mitali of Rwanda, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah of Ghana and Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi of Nigeria.
We need Zimbabwe to be at such forums to understand how governments can develop and invest in sport, but without a relevant ministry, we will always operate in darkness.