RECENTLY Zimbabwe’s Mighty Warriors, the women’s senior national football team, were involved in a messy affair — my own pun — over bonuses and what diet was going into the players’ stomachs with photographs of all sort of dishes, among them a plate with a pittance of kapenta fish (matemba), pumpkin leaves (ibhobola) and a famished morsel of sadza (istshwala).
There have been some efforts to justify the serving of pumpkin leaves to the Mighty Warriors, with one arguing that they are very highly nutritious.
While pumpkin leaves count among my favourite dishes, especially when the leaves are prepared in peanut butter and have a garnish of pepper, taking these must always be a personal choice, as is with any other dish, and not something forced upon an individual by circumstances, financial or otherwise.
The issue is not about dishes and diet, however, but the storm in a tea cup brewed a far bigger storm when the Mighty Warriors fitness trainer Gerald Maguranyanga called on the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) chief executive (CEO) Jonathan Mashingaidze to leave office — because, according to Maguranyanga, the CEO had not honoured several promises made to the Mighty Warriors, especially on funds to enable the players to travel back to their homes after the assignment against Botswana in Harare.
The call for Mashingaidze’s resignation, or firing, is not something that is of major concern — in any democratic society any individual can call for the firing or resignation of a person who holds public office, no matter how flimsy the reasons for such a call.
It is the grounds on which Maguranyanga premises his call for Mashingaidze’s ouster that are of major concern to anyone who has some feelings for our football. In Maguranyanga’s words Mashingaidze is a “pathological liar”.
Reports since the accusation suggest that Maguranyanga has now been relieved of his part-time post. This was always going to be the right course of action to take — someone between Maguranyanga and Mashingaidze had to go, looking at the matter from best practice in corporate governance.
This is not to suggest that Maguranyanga was correct or wrong in his assertions, simply that once these allegations were made as public as was done, the two could simply not continue to work together. But therein lies a catch 22 situation.
The firing of Maguranyanga leaves Zifa and Mashingaidze at a crossroads. Last month national coach Ian Gorowa, certainly in a fit of rage, also told the world that Mashingaidze was a “habitual liar”.
Gorowa was referring to the issue of him signing a contract with Zifa following his work at the 2014 Orange African Nations Championship tournament in South Africa where Zimbabwe lost narrowly 0-1 to Nigeria in a third place play-off match.
Three things should be taken into consideration when dealing with the accusations by both Gorowa and Maguranyanga, besides their claims that Mashingaidze is a “pathological/habitual liar”.
The accusations emanate from two completely different and unrelated issues — one over a contract for Gorowa and the other over apparently unending and unfulfilled promises over travel allowances. Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela confirms Gorowa’s assertions by saying that the issue of the coach’s contract was still “work in progress” and the fact that the Mighty Warriors were still holed at the Zifa village bore credence to Maguranyanga’s claims; both Zifa and Mashingaidze have not refuted both assertions — the only response being the firing of Maguranyanga.
By the way, in January Mbada Diamonds CEO Patience Khumalo accused Mashingaidze of ineptitude while speaking on the state of football administration in Zimbabwe.
Mbada Zimbabwe’s the football’s biggest sponsors, financially, and to date both Zifa and Mashingaidze have not bothered to respond to Khumalo’s insinuations.
Add to all these the fact that the world football body, Fifa, has also been reported as not being entirely happy with how they have been dealing with both Zifa and Mashingaidze over the so-called Asiagate issue, then it is clear there is a huge administration problem at Zifa.
In the midst of all this, one is left wondering where the boss of football in Zimbabwe, president Cuthbert Dube, is?