HARARE mayor Bernard Manyenyeni has issued huge criticism of Harare City Football Club management’s “lavish spending spree” in the current player transfer window, saying it has been done without his blessings.
City is owned by Harare City Council.
Manyenyeni took to micro-blogging site Facebook to express his displeasure with the team’s management who have so far spent huge on high-profile players.
Nine new players have so far been confirmed at City with more expected to follow before the window closes.
City have also made a complete overhaul of the team’s technical department led by the experienced Taurai Mangwiro as well as rolling out an ambitious development programme which is being run by very experienced coaches including Masimba Dinyero and Elvis Chiweshe.
This profligate spending by City, it appears, does not amuse Manyenyeni a bit.
Interestingly, Manyenyeni is the club’s patron.
In a very long post on his Facebook account, Manyenyeni wrote yesterday: “Makoni South accuses me of buying expensive football players while damaged roads remain unattended. (My) simple response (is) — Guilty as Charged! More detailed response requires that I share with you my very serious reservations about this apparent dislocation of priorities. I wrote to the team’s management expressing my dismay at the misalignment.
“They are struggling to give me such simple information as player acquisition and disposal details, salary schedules and 2015 budget. The whole culture of secrecy and non-disclosure is embedded in this institution.
“We are failing to find money for garbage trucks, among other needs, but we are showing off as the richest club in the PSL [Premier Soccer League]. As mayor, I am also the patron of the football team.”
The Harare City boss is referring to the big signings by the club which has seen Tendai Samanja and Themba Ndlovu, both Soccer Stars of the Year finalists last season, joining the club.
Besides the duo, City’s long list of newcomers also includes Nicholas Alifandika, Honey Chimutimunzeve, Tafadzwa Dube, Munacho Chinembeza, Lincoln Zvasiya as well as two former Chemhanza High School students Tatenda Elvis Tumba and Tatenda Munditi.
“I wish them every success on the field of play and ideally such success should not be wallet-based. I am, however, not sure if our residents will give us much credit for any success on the soccer field at a time when our core mandate is below expectation.
“Our soccer budget last year was 4 to 5 times more than some of the big-name soccer teams in the same league. Yes . . . embarrassing. I would also wish the city avoided the dream of ever becoming a soccer city. . . we need a little bit more investment in other disciplines especially those which have given us national glory and pride before but are currently struggling like boxing,” said Manyenyeni.
However, City’s secretary-general Mathew Marara said there is nothing amiss about their transfer activities so far as they have been targeting free agents.
“We did not buy all those players, but they were free agents. We just gave them their signing-on fees and packages. We signed new players, but people should also realise that we are offloading and 15 players have left so far so we don’t have any additional expenses. We are maintaining our budget,” said Marara. “We are using the budget that was approved by the council. Our budget went through the relevant committee and was endorsed by the full council [which is chaired by Manyenyeni] so I don’t think there is anything amiss there. Everything is done within the parameters of the council.”
The new signings had their first meeting with the rest of the squad yesterday when the club began their pre-season training in the capital.
City had a difficult season last year as they struggled for fluency under the guidance of Bigboy Mawiwi who was eventually shown the door to pave way for Masimba Dinyero on an interim base. Dinyero would go on to rescue the team from relegation, albeit on the last day of the season, securing the club’s continued stay in the top-flight league with a 1-0 victory over Chicken Inn.
It was a sharp contrast in fortunes for the side who had stormed the league the previous year, threatening to win the title in their debut season only to be cruelly elbowed by Dynamos on the closing day.
Then coached by Mawiwi, City went in to the last day of the campaign top of the log and needing just a victory over Caps United to be confirmed champions, but were held to a 2-2 draw and Dynamos, who beat Black Mambas on the same day, snatched it on a goal difference.