THE name Twine Phiri (pictured) is quite a familiar name in the local football fraternity, especially among Caps United supporters. Although he was a businessman of note a few years ago, where he ran a successful refrigeration business and would splash large sums of money on the football club. He is one of many prominent personalities who have been drowned in debt.
Today, Phiri has been reduced to a pale shadow of his former self with negative publicity arising from his broken marriage with Kerresia, trailing him. Phiri is now a regular at the Harare Civil Court where Kerresia has dragged him over the upkeep of their three children. But, Phiri has refused to let the negative publicity and the slump in his business fortunes, sink him. He still insists that the darkest hour is just before dawn and that sooner, his business and fame will be up again.
News reporter Blessed Mhlanga recently interviewed Phiri on a wide range of issues – from football, business, politics and family.
Here are the excerpts of the interview;
ND: Many people know you because you were the man behind Caps United, can you tell us briefly about that relationship?
TP: I was born in Caps United and in 1999 Caps Holdings management approached me, they knew that I was passionate about the team and was supporting the team and we went into a 50 – 50 partnership were we were in bed for two years.
ND: What is your relationship now with Caps, are you still a shareholder at the club.
TP: The relationship now is that I have taken a sabbatical, I have said I don’t want anything to do with football. I only support the team.
ND: Apart from football what else do you do?
TP: My core business is refrigeration and air conditioning, that’s my core business but now I have also joined the other group on the other side. I did not know that one day I could jump into farming. I am now a farmer, I am also doing farming since business has slowed down a bit, the industry is not ticking, so I had to look elsewhere and I have seen that farming business is the only way to go these days.
ND: Your core business, is sit still up and running or it’s now closed?
TP: My company, TwinCon, from my name Twine is still up and running, but we have downsized from 32 to just nine full time workers.
ND: There is a major belief that businesspeople who takeover football companies eventually go broke, is this what happened to you?
TP: People would say that, but for me I would not say it’s true because what happened is that the economy just went bad and when the economy goes bad business won’t tick. I remember 2007 – 2008 when the economy was bad, the business dwindled. The same thing has happened now.
ND: How were you funding the team, did you have donors or it was from your business?
TP: I used to fund from my business coffers and I had significant savings, which I had, that’s how I managed to fund the team.
BM: There are whispers that we might see you in the political arena soon, is there any truth here?
TP: You see, Twine comes from a political family, my father was a politician. I know I am not ready for politics now, but I can see in the near future I might jump into it.
BM: Would you care to tell us which side of the political divide you are in or you will be an independent?
TP: That one, I will keep it to myself at the time being, I am sorry.
BM: You said your father was a politician, which party did he support or work with?
TP: My father was a Zanu PF cadre.
BM: You have been seen in the company of mostly politicians are these your mentors, as you get ready for political office?
TP: It’s very true, most of my friends are politicians. I would say about 90% are politicians, but I mean they are not only from Zanu PF, the others are independent and the others are from the other side.
BM: Let’s talk about your family.
TP: My family is not big, let me start from where I am today or maybe I should start from the one that has hit the headlines every time. I have three children with my ex-wife Gracia. Unfortunately she decided to go to court when we separated, it was just a week when I was hit with a $15 000 lawsuit for maintenance a month. It was eventually significantly reduced and I have been on a $2 913 monthly maintenance payment for a very long time before it was further reviewed downwards to $1 900, which is still too heavy for me. In life there are some people, who are considered super human beings and she is fortunate she is one of those. I don’t think in this country there is anyone who is getting such a maintenance payment on two kids.
BM: Some would say you are just an irresponsible dad failing to take care of your children?
TP: I am still trying to fight because I can’t afford this type of payment, this is why you hear or see me in court week in, week out. I try to comply and believe you me people might say or think otherwise, I will fight for my kids, I love my children, if you speak to them now they will tell you Twine is a marvellous dad. I can give you my phone and you can read their messages, where they sympathise with me whenever they read anything about me in newspapers and they feel for me and they don’t like it. My children are not babies anymore, they are teenagers. So when they read these things, they cringe.
BM: This dragging each other to court, how does it affect you as a person and as a businessman?
TP: What this has done to me is it has reduced my business time. I now spend most of my time in court trying to fight and trying to see that my kids are comfortable and the comfort which I am talking about is I pick my children everyday wherever they are to school so that they see and enjoy the fatherhood that I can give them. Even through it is very difficult for me to see them.
BM: Outside football where else do you passions lie?
TP: I am a family man, I love being around my children.