Chiyangwa jumps ship five years after pitching for Ahmad

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By Goodwill Zunidza

On March 12, the god-forsaken Confederation of African Football (Caf) will hold its leadership elections.

Already indications are that the event, much like the last edition in 2016, will not be short of drama and intrigue.

Hogging the limelight for the second consecutive occasion is our own Phillip Chiyangwa, the former Zifa president and politician and currently Cosafa supremo.

Chiyangwa is not contesting but has staked his interest by declaring himself campaign manager for South African business magnate Patrice Motsepe who is vying for the Caf presidency.

Motsepe, quite clearly the front-runner in the polls, had appeared to face formidable opponents in the form of perennial contestant Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast before Anouma pulled out.

Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast pulled out of the race,throwing his weight behind South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe.

“After several reflections and consultations, I decided to give up my candidacy for the election to the presidency of CAF,” Anouma told an Ivorian TV programme on Friday. 

Anouma, and fellow candidates Senegal’s Augustin Senghor and Ahmed Yahya of Mauritania penned an agreement in Mauritania to give up their bids in exchange for the post of advisor and two vice-presidencies respectively.

Motsepe will succeed Ahmad Ahmad who has been banned for five years over governance issues.

Chiyangwa pitched for Ahmad in the last plebiscite in 2016 and was widely credited with the ensuing result that saw the Madagascan obtain a split vote to oust veteran administrator Issa Hayatou following the latter’s 27 years at the helm.

What was to follow though had largely been unfathomed. Chiyangwa’s minion went on to reduce the revered Caf presidency office in Cairo to something not much different from a brothel while turning the continental body into his personal money-lending organ.

Of course it did not end well for Ahmad in these heady days of increased global scrutiny in the affairs of multi-national sports organisations.

The former Madagascar government minister infamously earned himself a suspension by the international football federation Fifa and a couple of nights in a dingy French police cell.

He can hardly pass for the ideal football chaperone that Africa had hoped for when its football bosses summoned the guts to dismiss Hayatou in spite of the great strides the game took under his watch since 1988 when the Cameroonian assumed power.

With Ahmad having been a virtual lightweight among the Who’s Who of African football prior to his elevation, the buck inevitably pickets at Chiyangwa’s door as it was the Zimbabwean land tycoon who played the catalyst’s role to spring an unknown quantity into public office.

During Ahmad’s outgoing reign African football has not improved. There were no more Olympic medals as what had begun to transpire under Hayatou’s administration, with Nigeria and Cameroon once bagging gold.

No more podium victories were recorded at world youth championships where Ghana had triumphed during Hayatou’s period and no African team was able to reach the quarter-finals of the Fifa World Cup, a painful reversal of the gains recorded under Hayatou.

Zimbabwe, the country of Chiyangwa, Ahmad’s benefactor, benefitted nothing from Ahmad instead losing almost everything.

All the local football stadia were banned from hosting international games with African Champions League representatives FC Platinum forced to use alternative venues only after bitter appeals.

Ahmad at one time even threatened to fixture a Warriors home game outside the country.

With all these sordid memories fresh on the mind, it is mind-boggling to find Chiyangwa resurfacing at the head of another campaign brandishing another candidate.

The motor-mouth businessman has not offered any apology for taking the whole continent down the garden path five years ago when he cajoled our football leaders to vote for an inept official.

Here he is again running errands for Motsepe without bothering to explain what went wrong with his previously favoured Ahmad whom he never shied from boasting that he had single-handedly catapulted to power.

What now sticks out is the risk Chiyangwa brings to Motsepe’s good standing in the run up to next week’s election.

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