Zim rugby at cross roads as players demand PDV reinstatement

ZIMBABWE rugby is again at a cross road to find a lasting solution that does not compromise the game or national interests after Sables players led by captain Denford Mutamangira yesterday  alleged interference in the running of the national team.

This comes less than six years after 12 players were suspended from the Sables camp after expressing their reservations with then Sables team manager Losson Mtongwiza whom they accused of meddling in selection issues while neglecting player welfare.

The 12 wrote a petition to then ZRU president John Falkenberg indicating that it had become difficult working with Mtongwiza and demanded his removal.

Ironically, Mtongwiza is now the ZRU vice-president and is again being accused of the same charges by both players and recently fired coach Peter de Villiers.

In-a-no-holds barred press conference at Harare Sports Club, Mutamangira told the media that players were “frustrated” at the Aaron Jani led ZRU administration for  interfering in the running of the national team to an extent of making it their personal property.

 “…in spite of Peter de Villiers’ good intentions and constructive input that he brought to the team, he was forced to deal with a presidium that restricted his ability to be fully impactful,” Mutamangira said.

“They are an oversight organ there to provide support to the coach and the players. However, it overstepped its parameters by consistently attempting to influence the team management, team selection and other decisions within the parameters of de Villiers as the coach.”

De Villiers has said the ZRU “expelled” him for missing work while he was at his cancer-stricken daughter’s side, also claiming that his bosses had accused him of faking the fact that his daughter was ill.

According to de Villiers’ dismissal letter dated 11 April 2019, the Disciplinary Authority recommended that de Villiers be dismissed because “He was found guilty of a serious offence, the misconduct goes to the root of the employment contract, in that the employee had repudiated his duty in giving the service to the employer.

“The employees own words during the hearing show that he was repudiating his contract. The employers sponsors lost funds in un-utilised air tickets due to the employee’s unreasonableness,” further stated de Villiers letter of dismissal. 

Mutamangira yesterday thought the charges were trivial and could be remedied by a written warning because the circumstances of his sick wife and daughter who is suffering from cancer, made it hard for him to be fulfil his duties at the time.

“The decision to dismiss PDV has been met with disdain and frustration by the team,” Mutamangira said.

“We therefore stand committed to a campaign to ensure our coach is not only reinstated, but also allowed to exercise his powers and discretion as coach without any interference from the presidium.  His dismissal was unfair and unjust…we would also like to implore the minister, the ZRU board, the SRC, sponsors and concerned Zimbabweans to support this stand in solidarity with us to make Zimbabwe Sables great again.”

ZRU are yet to respond to the accusations.