EDITORIAL COMMENT: The President has set the tone for Warriors Afcon sojourn

The Chronicle

NEVER before has the Government been so committed to supporting the Warriors as the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Not only did the First Citizen appeal to the corporate world and Zimbabweans alike to support the national team’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign, but he took the lead, with action complementing his words.

First the President assembled a high-powered fundraising committee to source the US$500 000 needed for the Warriors’ overall upkeep in Egypt headed by the Acting Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kazembe Kazembe and includes corporate executives from a variety of industries. 

The committee then held its first fundraiser at a Harare hotel on Wednesday evening and President Mnangagwa showed his commitment to the Warriors’ cause by attending the event with a number of his ministers and senior government officials.

He reminded the gathering that “we are all Warriors” by virtue of being Zimbabweans, adding that the event wasn’t just a one-off, but sport constituted a part of the Second Republic’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme and has immense potential to contribute to Vision 2030.

To prove that he hadn’t just attended the fundraiser to give the keynote address, President Mnangagwa set the bar by donating US$200 000 and $300 000 to the Warriors’ cause. He also offered his trademark autographed Zimbabwe flag coloured scarf for auction and it was snapped up by oil mogul and Sakunda boss, Kuda Tagwirei, for $250 000.

Other items that fetched cool prices after being signed by the President include the 2019 Afcon soccer ball and a signed replica Warriors’ jersey.

The President reminded those in attendance to support the Warriors because they are ours, saying the “Warriors are Zimbabweans and we are Zimbabweans so there is no reason for us to look for reasons to support them, we are the Warriors and they are also the Warriors, we are Zimbabweans and they are also Zimbabweans”.

He emphasised that national teams are our sporting ambassadors and symbols of our national identity, which help foster a sense of national pride among the citizens and urged the Warriors to fight gallantly like true Warriors and to be fearless, brave, courageous, tireless and committed when they kick-off their tournament against hosts Egypt on June 21 at the Cairo International Stadium.

The President has thrown down the gauntlet to the Warriors by ensuring that funds to cater for all their allowances and bonuses are available and now the ball is in their court.

Previously, the Government left Zifa to run around with a begging bowl alone and discord literally enveloped every Warriors’ camp, with players not being paid.

Players staged a sit-in at their hotel in the 2017 Afcon finals in Gabon after not receiving allowances they had been promised by Zifa and this hugely affected their performances in the three group stage games in which they disappointed and failed to proceed beyond that stage.

In fact, as Zimbabweans, we were being embarrassed by the chaos that accompanied the Warriors’ preparations and disharmony in the squad at the Afcon finals worsened by disjointed on-field performances. 

However, President Mnangagwa ensured that the Second Republic is not associated with the embarrassment of the past by superintending over the pooling of resources so that our players solely concentrate on the games at hand without off-field distractions. 

Although the Warriors may have reasons for failure at the Afcon finals, they have absolutely no excuse this time around.

The Government has done its part and it is now left to the Warriors’ players and technical team to stand ready to do the work in earnest . The players are not representing themselves in Egypt nor are they tourists visiting the pyramids, but there are there to fly the country’s flag high on behalf of their 16 million compatriots.

They should not abuse the wondrous love displayed by those that donated to the cause, as there’s a high danger of such generosity being withdrawn in future.

We also hope those men at Zifa won’t dip their fingers into the money raised. This money is not meant to pay allowances, accommodation and flights for the Zifa board and entire band of councillors that are all set to travel to Egypt. No depositing of the Warriors money into private accounts please.

Ask not to be excused our dear Warriors, and please don’t come home too soon. Go Warriors, go!