ONE of the oldest football clubs in the country, Zimbabwe Saints, could finally be folding owing to lack of financial resources which has seen them failing to pay affiliation fees.
Chikwata, as the club was popularly known during its heydays, play in the Zifa Southern Region Division One League where they have become perennial campaigners.
On Saturday, their home match against Tsholotsho FC was postponed because the former top-flight football giants have not paid their affiliation fees for this year and failed to pay referees last year.
A source at Zifa yesterday said Chikwata owed the association close to $6 000 and would not be playing any football if they failed to clear their arrears.
“They owe Zifa a lot of money. As we speak they are busy running around trying to get some money. They actually owe Zifa close to $6 000, including this year’s affiliation fees. They also owe referees from last year. They failed to pay referees for their last home game. If they don’t pay up, they will be kicked out of the league,” the source said.
The club’s organising secretary Jabulani Chinyangarara, a board member at the newly-elected Zifa Southern Region executive, said he was driving and asked this reporter to call after five minutes, but his mobile phone went unanswered after that.
Zifa Southern Region chairman Musa Mandaza, who had earlier visited Southern Eye offices in the morning on different business, said he would only be able give the full story of Zimbabwe Saints tomorrow.
Pressed on the issue later in the day, Mandaza said he was driving and would get back to this reporter with a comment.
“You still want the Zimbabwe Saints story. Let me speak to someone then I will get back to you. I am driving right now,” he said.
Club chairman Gibson Homela, who was said to be travelling, was not reachable for comment.
Another source said club shareholder and former chairman Elliot Manduna was at the forefront of mobilising funds for the club with other shareholders, but after he was barred from voting in the Zifa elections, earlier in the year, he backed down.
Founded in 1931, Zimbabwe Saints were demoted from the top flight in 2006 before they acquired the Eagles franchise in 2011 and played for one season.
In 2012 they were relegated from Division One, but negotiated their way back through another former top-flight club Railstars’ franchise as the latter had been weaned off by their sponsors, the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
When Chikwata bounced back into the PSL in 2011, it was through the help of businessman Felix Dzumbunu and they were coached by legend Willard “Mashinkila” Khumalo and former son Agent “Ajira” Sawu and Ephraim “Rock of Gibraltar” Chawanda.
Zimbabwe Saints won the title in 1988 under coach Roy Baretto and have produced great players, among them Ebson “Sugar” Muguyo, Homela, Chawanda, Sawu, Jimmy Phiri, Henry “Bully” McKop, the late John Sibanda and Joseph Machingura, Muzondiwa Mugadza, Ronald “Gidiza” Sibanda, Mtshumayeli Moyo and Mthulisi Maphosa, among other stars.