In the grip of Chiyangwa In the grip of Chiyangwa

Flam­boy­ant Phil prom­ises to bury his footie op­po­nents

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Lifestyle - Robert Mukondiwa

There are ten bot­tles of wa­ter in the fridge. He sits be­hind his desk an­i­mated. Turn­ing a shade of apri­cot. Or per­haps peach as he rants at the per­son at the other end of the phone.

THE call lasts a bit. Quite a bit. He even­tu­ally ends the call. Sighs and says; “Fam­ily is­sues!” Then he gets into the cur­rent zone. Cool­ing down as if noth­ing would ever harm him. As if he were calm all along. In fact he is now as calm as the other side of a pil­low.

This is Philip Chiyangwa. A man they say was so scared to be beaten in the forth­com­ing Zifa lead­er­ship elec­tion that he schemed to en­sure that he is un­con­tested but even­tu­ally found him­self charged at, by most es­pe­cially Fel­ton Ka­mambo.

This is not that friv­o­lous look­ing child­like jester on so­cial me­dia who dances to trend­ing tracks de­lib­er­ately play­ing the fool. This is the python await­ing its prey. Some­thing I have pre­vi­ously writ­ten about the man, but that I will get back to later on.

“You are run­ning scared,” I charge at him. “You have fear in your eyes,” I re­peat the claim from the out­side.

And all of a sud­den he is jolted again like that man on the phone. Ex­cept this time it is not fam­ily mat­ters.

“Why would I be afraid of him (pre­sum­ably Ka­mambo) what has he achieved in life other than be­ing a de­pot man­ager for GMB (the Grain Mar­ket­ing Board)? He has been in foot­ball for over 30 years and I for two but what has he done for foot­ball that I should be afraid of him?” asks the man they call PC in the beau­ti­ful game of foot­ball.

Dressed in a slick rayon and cel­lo­phane shirt with nu­ances of dull ivory, ex­citable amethyst and gold­ish yel­low, he is hardly the flam­boy­ant be­ing so­cial me­dia is used to. In fact he is look­ing re­mark­ably like an ex­e­cu­tioner wait­ing for his sub­ject so that he can cap­ture and an­ni­hi­late his next foe.

Af­ter all, pasted on the walls of his of­fice and board­room, amidst the flam­boy­ant pic­tures of a younger Philip and Michael Jack­son are those of him and Issa Hay­a­tou. His neme­sis he helped dis­pose of in CAF elec­tions.

The lat­ter man look­ing de­jected prob­a­bly re­signed to the fact that he was pos­ing for a pic­ture with the ex­e­cu­tioner who was set to put paid to his long reign over African foot­ball.

He has the scalp of Issa Hay­a­tou some­where in the draw­ers of his shiny teak desk one would think. And in the same drawer is space for the scalp of Fel­ton Ka­mambo. A scalp he will pre­sum­ably claim very soon come next week­end.

Yet this Chiyangwa is hardly pompous to­day. In fact he sounds pretty mod­est. Of course with a touch of pom­pos­ity.

“What should hap­pen should you lose the elec­tion Philip?”

“In the highly un­likely. Very, very un­likely in­stance I look at what we have achieved with my team. My achieve­ments are not my own. I have had a team that has worked very hard to make sure we got to the top again.”

“Our women’s team was at one time num­ber two in the re­gion. They made us proud at the Olympics. We have been ful­fill­ing our obli­ga­tions to play in­ter­na­tion­ally. Our men’s team has been do­ing ex­tremely well with two Cosafa ti­tles un­der my watch. The squab­bling has be­come min­i­mal and peo­ple are con­cen­trat­ing on foot­ball rather than squab­bles. Those squab­bles by the way were man-made.”

“I have worked on open­ing the door to the UK and in­ter­na­tional kids. Pre­vi­ously I was told when I met par­ents of Zim­bab­wean foot­ballers play­ing in Eng­land, they said for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tors used to say if you want your child to play in the na­tional team in Zim­babwe put £50 00 in this ac­count, a per­sonal ac­count, and they will be called to camp.

‘‘I told them I will pay your kids and for their tick­ets to na­tional duty and house them in the ho­tel and not have them pay bribes as (named guys) used to do!” he says.

“Those are my achieve­ments. Not these guys who are in fact look­ing for stipends rather than run­ning foot­ball ef­fi­ciently!”

And his foe? Per­haps his foe can change things around, I sug­gest.

“How? He has been around for long. What has he done for foot­ball? You should not make noise.

‘‘You should be a per­son of means. A per­son of ac­tion who other peo­ple praise not to praise your­self. Kun­gowawata. Apa hauna cash!” he says.

He has come into his own. That epic phrase, you have no cash, es­cap­ing from its home and finding its way into the con­ver­sa­tion.

“I could never have done all that I achieved with­out the help and hard work of Omega Sibanda and Phile­mon Machana. Hard work­ing peo­ple they are.

‘‘ No one achieves things alone. I achieved be­cause of them. We were a team. We are a team. And we have Chamu Chi­wanza work­ing hard to get into foot­ball gov­er­nance and we are with him in this com­ing elec­tion. It is be­cause work­ing suc­cess­fully calls for a team,” he adds. And back to that tale. Philip Chiyangwa loves to pro­ject him­self as a mo­ron. A jester. A friv­o­lous play­ful ec­cen­tric with­out strat­egy.

And like the epic python, as you watch those friv­o­lous an­tics on so­cial me­dia, burn­ing cru­cial data bun­dles; Philip Chiyangwa, the real Philip Chiyangwa. Like a python slides and slith­ers close to you as you ob­serve the colour­ful be­ing he presents.

And be­fore you can re­mem­ber your fa­ther’s last name, he has you in a sleeper-hold. Game over. When you can’t breathe, you can’t scream!

“I am not talk­ing much ahead of this elec­tion. I am just go­ing to show by way of win­ning that elec­tion re­sound­ingly.

‘‘Those that gave them money to op­pose me know me. They knew those guys would lose to me but just wanted to make sure they also put up a good fight.”

Chiyangwa is in fact scared. Scared that he will beat the op­po­si­tion so bad that even his ri­vals will end up vot­ing for him in the con­test. That is his fear ap­par­ently!

He is scared he will leave his op­po­nent bleed­ing pro­fusely. That is why Philip Chiyangwa is afraid of this elec­tion, at least that is what he and his nerves say!

And now, his op­po­nent can­not back down any­more. The stage is set for the elec­tion. And Philip be­lieves he is in­tim­i­dat­ing his com­pe­ti­tion.

Af­ter all run­ning away from Philip Chiyangwa is like jump­ing into an ocean to es­cape the rain, you can never get away from him. Es­pe­cially when he starts talk­ing. And soon, he will start talk­ing.

There are ten bot­tles of wa­ter in the fridge.

He will need them to quench his thirst when he scorches his op­po­nents in a bap­tism of fire next week­end and gets an­other man­date. Or he may need it to cool him­self down if he loses.

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