Zimbabweans never cease to amaze me. They have a penchant to blow their own trumpet (kuzvifonera) at every opportunity, but nature has its own humbling ways. Examples abound of people swaggering and belching much ado about nothing.
When Zanu PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa took over the presidency from the now late Robert Mugabe in 2017, he vowed to revive the waning economy; he adopted the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra. Wearing his trademark Zimbabwe flag-branded scarf, he took on a whirlwind tour of the world to lure investors to revive a virtually dead economy.
His engagement drive took him to China, Russia, Middle East, across Africa and culminated at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The so-called new dispensation trumpeted that Mnangagwa’s trips were bearing fruits as more than US$27 billion worth of mega deals ranging from mining, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, healthcare, defence and energy, were on their way to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is endowed with a cornucopia of minerals, a literate population, good soils and good weather, surely the country is an easy-to-sell brand. Millions of dollars in hard currency were splashed on Mnanagwa’s bloated entourages to those far-off countries.
But more than two years into his tenure, Zimbabwe has nothing to show for Mnangagwa’s endless junkets. The mega deals appear to have dissipated into hot air.
In 2013, Caps United owner Farai Jere blew the horn, announcing that his pharmaceutical company would construct a US$145 million five-star Hilton Hotel and office complex in Eastlea, Harare.
The project was supposed to be completed in 2016. Hold your horses, four years after the project was expected to be completed, nothing has materialised.
And suddenly, out of the blue, former Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, and obviously itching to prove that he could not be outdone by Jere or anyone else for that matter, brewed another shocker. This week the world woke up to news that Chiyangwa had a dream in June 2011 — a dream to build a state-of-the-art sporting facility in Harare South’s Stoneridge suburb.
“I had a dream in 2011 when the Harare City Council issued a permit for the land. In terms of sporting and entertainment facilities, Harare South has nothing. This facility will change that,” Chiyangwa told the media. The former Zifa president wants to build a Moses Mabida Stadium which can stage boxing, athletics, musical concerts and conferences in Stoneridge.
The venue of the facility raises questions. Stoneridge is not a prime location to build such a property. The sporting facility will be surrounded by squatter camps.
With the Zimbabwean economy heading south, building such a facility could remain Chiyangwa’s strange dream on a cold night.
I doubt if Chiyangwa carried out a feasibility study before making such an outlandish announcement. A feasibility study to ascertain the likelihood of successfully completing the project was key.
Project managers use feasibility studies to discern the pros and cons of undertaking a project before investing time and money into it.
This feasibility study could have provided Chiyangwa and his team with crucial information that could prevent them from venturing blindly into risky businesses that could hardly give him return on investment.
A feasibility study is simply an assessment of the practicality of a proposed project. As the name implies, these studies ask: Will the project give proprietors the return on investment that they expect? If that project is completed, it is likely to become a white elephant just like High Glen Shopping Mall and is unlikely to give return on investment.
Captain Fiasco as Chiyangwa is affectionately known, said he is partnering the government. Sounds a good idea, but the same government owns the 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium (NSS), which the Confederation of African Football (Caf) recently condemned for failing to meet international standards.
It is no secret that the government has a lot on its plate to accommodate Chiyangwa in this self-actualisation project.
If the government had the capacity to lend Chiyangwa a hand, then it should have shown it by refurbishing the NSS to ease the county’s stadia crisis. With the government failing its restless workers, how will it partner the Pinnacle Properties boss in a self-fulfilling stadium named after himself?
Even though Uefa president Aleksander Cerefin, who was recently in the country, promised to assist Africa with capacity building by providing sports infrastructure in appreciation of the vast contribution made by the continent’s stars in the global football stage, he sounded sceptical to fund such projects.
“I think we can help quite a lot. Our principles are that we don’t send money. We send experts, we help in building infrastructure,” Cerefin said. This is a slap in the face on Chiyangwa as his tenure at 53 Livingstone Avenue in Harare had been marred by controversy as he was fingered in misappropriation of Zifa funds. Advancing funds to that project is tantamount to throwing money into a bottomless pity.
The timely announcement of a June 2011 dream comes at a time Chiyangwa is caught up in an eye of a storm as the Felton Kamambo-led Zifa board is frantically trying to recover monies that Chiyangwa allegedly siphoned from the local soccer governing body during his tenure as the association’s president.
The media in recent weeks exposed how Chiyangwa allegedly embezzled thousands of dollars from the association through fraud and corruption, after the flamboyant businessman reportedly withdrew US$30 000 from a Zifa nostro account, months after he had ceased to be an official, in addition to using Zifa money to fund his lavish birthday party in 2017.
It is also reported that Chiyangwa leased the Zifa Village to one of his companies to keep creditors at bay, an agreement which he allegedly later used to loot funds from the association.
Chiyangwa has a weakness of having too many things on his hands, resulting in a lot of his projects not reaching completion. His hotel at “White House” along Crowhill Road in Harare is now an eyesore.
Maybe we should give him a chance this time around.
He is just hyping for something I guess! Or he could be diverting people’s attention from the Zifagate. Time will tell! It could be folly for Chiyangwa to go against the wind in constructing a project of such a magnitude.
I am not a prophet of doom, but based on the foregoing, Captain Fiasco could have been blowing his own trumpet as far as the Philip Chiyangwa Stadium is concerned. Lies have short legs.
Cliff Chiduku is a journalist. He writes in his personal capacity. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org