THERE’S so much excitement about the recent election of Patrice Motsepe as CAF president.
He was unopposed at the organisation’s 43rd Ordinary General Assembly, much to the excitement of millions of football lovers, across the continent.
The fact that FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, had to intervene, and oversee the proceedings, tells us the seriousness of the world’s collective commitment, to help African football dump its past sins, and tragic disasters, which have brought shame to the beautiful game.
We all know how Issa Hayatou brought fissures, and discontent, across the continent, as West African nations were handed favours by the strongman.
Since he was elbowed out of power, we haven’t seen any club from that part of the continent, winning any of the CAF tournaments, and that’s quite telling.
The beautiful game became the wretched sport, almost every nation that was far away from West Africa, felt the magnitude of Hayatou’s excessive powers.
But, our daredevil, Philip Chiyangwa, with the help of his friends, found a way to bring down Hayatou.
The emergence of Motsepe speaks to the spirited efforts, to bring on board a billionaire owner, with a good reputation, to sort out the mess in African football.
And, yet again, we saw Chiyangwa, playing a key role in ensuring that becomes the case.
ZIFA leaders also chipped in, at the weekend, saying they deserve credit, for Motsepe’s rise to become CAF president.
“It’s SAFA, ZIFA and Nigeria which made the Motsepe dream a reality,” said ZIFA vice-president, Philemon Machana.
“After 48 countries had been railroaded to endorse Ahmad, ZIFA refused to do the same.
“Should ZIFA had done that,Motsepe would not have found the sufficient nominations to stand, in the election, as one cannot nominate two candidates, (for the) same spot.”
When Chiyangwa was elected to lead ZIFA, in 2015, I reserved opinion, because I doubted his capacity in leading a football constituency, which had virtually been destroyed, by Cuthbert Dube and his administration.
When he came to England, in 2017 to try and woo the Zimbabwean players, who were born here but could represent their nation, it proved a turning point, in terms of my judgment of this man. For all his faults, and he has many, he opened the path that eventually paved the way for the British Brigade to start being connected to their motherland.
And, his influence on the continent, in terms of shaping its leadership, has been there for everyone to see.
Of course, there are many at home who will dismiss him, as a chancer, and his loss in the battle for the ZIFA presidency, shows exactly that.
But, rather than fight, among ourselves, while our national game suffers, doesn’t the CAF elections show us that, if we can come together, we have the potential of doing something big?
Isn’t this the signal that those, who are at the top table of our football, need to bury their differences, find each other, and work together, for the sake of our game?
Surely, how can we boast that we have helped shape the future of African football, through our efforts, when we are not shaping the future of our national game?
Not because we can’t but because we don’t want to find a way to bring, together, our hearts and minds, to unite, and work for our football.
The CAF elections showed us something that we lack at home — unity.
If those who wanted to contest for the CAF presidency, found it necessary, to step aside, and join Motsepe, in his revolution, why can’t we do the same?
Why can’t we bury our egos, to ensure that we put our national game first, and not our narrow interests.
We have the leadership of COSAFA, we have the capacity of influencing who can become the CAF president.
Surely, this also demands that we provide the same leadership, and influence, for our game, back home.
Motsepe’s pledge to the continent, and the global fraternity, is simple, there is need for unity from all corners.
It’s something we seemingly don’t value, back home, and the results are there, for everyone to see. Look at the pathetic state of local stadia — Gwanzura, Rufaro, Chibuku, Effiel Flats, Rimuka, Torwood, etc.
One will shed tears, by looking at the eyesore of what they have become, thanks to those, who are supposed to be providing leadership, in ensuring they remain good facilities, sleeping on duty.
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How do we confidently project and celebrate, junior football development programmes, which have seen the light of day?
There is a huge gap in between our structures, in all our development programmes, which target the Under-12s to Under-15s and the Under-16s to Under-19s, thereby creating a void, in the junior national teams of Under-17s to Under-23s. Motsepe has invested millions into similar projects in his native South Africa and, by supporting him, it means that we acknowledge the value of such programmes.
Surely, we can’t say we support what Motsepe has been doing in South Africa, and turn a blind eye, to the importance of those programmes, on our doorstep.
We have to find ways to fix the challenges that we have at home because we have shown that we have the capacity to do that.
We have played a big part, in one way or another, to bring Motsepe to power and, now, let’s use that energy to deal with the chaos, which our national sport faces.
We can’t say we don’t have the capacity, otherwise, we would have betrayed the future generation, which is looking at us, to provide the solutions.