•Sithole takes a swipe at sports leaders who inject money into associations they lead
•Former ZOC president says there is a danger they could hold the nation to ransom
Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
INTERNATIONALLY-acclaimed sports administrator Tommy Sithole has blasted administrators who pump their money into the associations they lead, saying they are dragging those organisations back to the 1960s.
He said sports leaders should never be allowed to hold the nation to ransom simply because they have the fallback position, even in the event that they were not delivering, they could wave the card that they injected their money into the organisations.
Sithole said sports leaders who fail should always be prepared to hand over the baton to others rather than just hang on to their posts.
His comments, at a breakfast meeting in Harare yesterday, appeared to suggest that ZIFA has been dragged back 50 years by its leader Cuthbert Dube who has been pumping his personal funds in the past five years to try and stabilise the bankrupt domestic football controlling body.
The breakfast meeting was organised by the Sports Commission and attracted a number of captains of industry, Secretary for Sport, Arts and Culture Thokozile Chitepo, the Commission’s acting board chairman Paul Siwela, director-general Charles Nhemachena, ZOC president Admire Masenda and chief executive Anna Mguni.
Sithole, a former Director International Co-operation and Development at the International Olympic Committee, said he did not have respect for any leader of a sports organisation who pumped his money to run that entity.
He did not specifically mention ZIFA or Dube, in his powerful presentation, but it was very clear that the toxic relationship between the country’s football governing body and its leader, who has made it fashionable to pump his money into the association, was under attack.
“I have no respect for a person who puts money and uses his own resources to run a sporting organisation,” Sithole said.
“You end up with a problem that people say I have been putting my money into a sport organisation, that is bad administration. We are talking about the 1960s.
“And once you have someone going back to the ’60s, where they say this organisation is sustained by my own money and therefore I cannot be held responsible for its poor administration, I cannot go because I have my money in this, it’s wrong.
“What if the organisation cannot pay back? And looking into sports organisations in Zimbabwe today hardly any of them can pay back.
“If cricket didn’t have problems, I think cricket is the best marketed association in Zimbabwe today, but things are difficult now.
“Imagine if people in cricket had put their own money there and say we can’t leave the cricket association because we have our money there, until when — 100 years, 200 years, or you leave your children and your children’s children to run the organisation because you have your own money in the association?
“It doesn’t work, that was 1960s and it’s gone.
“Today good governance is about marketing the association, marketing the sports organisation and being very transparent in how you spend the money that you get from the sponsors.
“There is money out there, it might not be enough but we must convince the sponsor, have respect for the country as well as the sport.”
Sithole said sports leaders who fail to deliver, even when they have been elected onto those positions, should always be prepared to hand the baton to others.
“When it’s time to go, because they cannot fulfil their obligations to sport, we just have to go because these are voluntarily activities,” Sithole said.
“Just because people are elected doesn’t mean that they have to stay there.
“Sometimes we are elected for other reasons, other than that we really know how to run sport.
“You can make promises, and if you fail halfway through, you just go. Zimbabwe has got so many sports organisations and so many people who can take up positions.
“But for any sport organisation, for any sports leader to hold this nation to ransom, Jesus, we have to be respectable, we have to decide, we have to sign that this nation comes first, that sportsmanship comes first, we cannot be holding the country to ransom and really sleep soundly at night,” said Sithole.
He said the Olympic Movement realised a long time ago that it was not sustainable for officials to pump their money into sport.
“Up to 1980 things changed, 1984, things changed and the host countries for the Olympics realised that in order to maintain this independence, this autonomy, we got to raise money to put into sport and for sport to perpetuate itself.”
Sithole said there was need for transparency.
“If you go through the Olympic sport, through international sports organisations, there is something that each and every one of them have been emphasising over the years — that is transparency and good governance,” said Sithole.
“We have just drafted, and its been accepted, what’s called the Agenda 2020 of the International Olympic Movement. The basis is good governance, the basis is transparency.
“Last year, the United Nations, of all organisations, adopted a resolution that recognises the uniqueness of sport but it says in accepting that sport was unique, in accepting that sport was autonomous and that it should be autonomous, the autonomy must be responsible, there must be responsible autonomy, so sports organisation must adhere to good governance, they must respect people, they must respect the sport that they are running.
“Any sport, small or big, it must leave a legacy, the legacy of development. In 1995 when the All-Africa Games were held there was the road dual system. You still find at the Air Force of Zimbabwe communication towers that were put in place for the Games.
“At ZBC, new outside broadcasting facilities were installed while at the teachers college infrastructure was built for the Games.
“At the Olympics Games there is always a new product.
“Even McDonalds, they will provide you with a new menu.”
He said Jamaica and Kenya were promoting their countries through sport.
“First, we have to be clear ourselves on the difference between sponsorship, which is a marketing tool, sales marketing tool for the sponsor, and donations,” said Sithole.
“And there is a tendency among many of us to just think that sponsorship is donation.
“We have very few people who really understand marketing and we also have few companies who understand the value of selling on the back of sport.
“So, I think the education that is needed here is both on the part of the sports associations to understand how to package themselves and what value they are bringing to the companies that they want sponsorship from.
“And, of course, the companies themselves to understand that by putting money into sport they are reaching millions of people. They are reaching young people.
“They are reaching those that have the resources to purchase their goods.
“So, it’s both ways, it is the education of the people.
“It is education of the sports people, education of the associations and just as important the education of the corporate.”