GOVT BAILS OUT WARRIORS | The Government yesterday led the way in rallying the Warriors ahead of their African Cup of Nations campaign with the State mobilising resources to lay out a $1 million package for the senior team’s tour of duty in Gabon.
The package comes as ZIFA and the Warriors had clashed over a number of issues related to the players outstanding bonuses, accommodation for their training camp and other logistics that are key to ensuring Callisto Pasuwa and his men are adequately prepared for the continental soccer showcase which starts in Libreville on January 14.
Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane could not be drawn into giving finer details about the Government rescue package, but revealed that ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa had approached him on Tuesday for support.
This came as the impasse, highlighted in the media, seemed to spiral out of control with the players staying at a city hotel while their coach and his technical crew were housed at the ZIFA Village. The coach and his players were only meeting at training venues.
But all that is to be cleared today as mobile network services provider NetOne have also chipped in to ensure normalcy returns to the Warriors camp by assuring ZIFA and the squad that their $250 000 package had not yet been exhausted.
Part of the NetOne package was used to fly the side that travelled to Abidjan for a Boxing Day friendly match against Cote d’Ivoire.It is the manner in which Government has led from the front that deserves to be applauded by the entire nation.
Government is also understood to be planning a send off ceremony for the Warriors tomorrow.Hlongwane said Government was stepping in following consultations with other departments to help raise resources for the team.The Ministry, which receives around $2,5 million annually from Treasury against a budget in excess of $36 million to service around 60 sport codes, had to turn to the higher offices for consultations since they clearly did not have the capacity.
Hlongwane said they took up the matter with the Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa who then assisted in facilitating the mobilisation of the resources from various Government departments.
According to sources, the meetings between the Minister and the Acting President resolved that there was need “to assist the Warriors’ campaign with a stout resource envelop.”
It is the Government’s view that the package will see the Warriors’ complete their campaign without glitches.Although Hlongwane could not let much out of the bag, the Minister paid tribute to Acting President Mnangagwa for his assistance in bailing out the Warriors.
“Yes what I can confirm is that we were indeed approached by ZIFA on Tuesday afternoon. We immediately triggered our internal consultation processes and it is true that my consultations with the Acting President assisted in the facilitation of resource provision to the disposal of the Warriors which should see the AFCON campaign get to its logical conclusion, hopefully without a glitch.
“I can tell you the Acting President was very helpful for us to get to this conclusion,” said Hlongwane.Zimbabwe are in Group B which features some of the continent’s big names Senegal, Algeria and Tunisia.
The Warriors, who are expected to leave Cameroon on Sunday for the final leg of the preparations, are also set to be given a befitting send-off tomorrow. Hlongwane said Government will hold a farewell dinner for the players with dignitaries expected to deliver messages of goodwill.
“We are going to have a send-off dinner for the Warriors on Friday evening which will be headlined by very high profile people within Government,” said Hlongwane.