Eddie Chikamhi, Harare Bureau
THE Warriors are set to have a drama-free run-up to the African Cup of Nations tournament after the fund-raising committee tasked to mobilise resources for their campaign got off to a good start when they managed to raise half the target during their initial fund-raising dinner on Wednesday night in Harare.
The Warriors are already in Egypt where they are bracing for the tournament opener against the hosts scheduled for next Friday night. They are in Group A along with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Before their departure, the players had made a passionate plea to the Government and the private sector to help their cause by raising up to US$500 000 to cater for their accommodation, allowances, bonuses and other expenses in the run-up to and during the tournament.
The players said they would want to focus on playing football in their quest to go past the group stages for the first time without having to worry about money issues and camping glitches like what transpired in the previous campaigns.
The Special Warriors Fundraising Committee spokesperson, Eve Gadzikwa, believes the target is achievable after they got overwhelming responses during their first fund-raising dinner on Wednesday night at Cresta Lodge in Harare.
The event was completely over-subscribed and they managed to pull together US$218 000 and close to $3.5 million. An air of patriotism filled the packed arena as the Government contributed the biggest chunk through the Guest of Honour, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who announced a package of US$200 000 and an additional $300 000.
There was also an auction of replicas and souvenirs. Harare businessman, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, was the highest bidder for the President’s famous scarf which went for $250 000.
A soccer ball and a jersey signed by President Mnangagwa were also auctioned to the tune of US$10 000 to Mutare businessman, Tino Machakaire.
The second set was snapped up by Zimplats for US$3 500. The third was sold for US$1 500 to Beautie Makiya MaSibanda.
South Africa-based Zimbabwean business concern, Zororo-Phumulani, also pledged R15 000 for every goal scored by the Warriors during the Afcon campaign, among many other pledges made on the night.
Gadzikwa yesterday said the members of her committee were overwhelmed by the responses and revealed plans to spread their efforts to other parts of the country and to the Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
“The event was quite a big success. It was oversubscribed, the turnout was phenomenal and the venue was overflowing. It went beyond our expectations.
“We were humbled to have the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) in our midst and he led the way by announcing a hefty package from the Government. He even offered his famous scarf and we managed to raise quite a substantial amount from its auction.
“Considering that this was the first event by this committee, which was only put in place just over a month ago, we can only be positive that things will work out well.
“We are happy with what we got but we are not going to rest on our laurels. There is still more work to be done considering the economic environment we are working in,” said Gadzikwa.
The fund-raising committee, which comprises captains of industry, cabinet ministers and sports administrators, was put in place by President Mnangagwa last month.
To ensure transparency, they have engaged reputable multinational professional services firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, to audit all the funds contributed towards the Warriors cause.
Gadzikwa said prospective donors can send their contributions and pledges via all platforms which include bank transfers to a CBZ account dedicated solely for this venture and mobile money services offered by the country’s major three networks – NetOne, Econet and Telecel.
Chairman of the committee Kazembe Kazembe, who is also the Acting Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, said they will account for every dollar raised.
“So far we have been working around the clock to ensure that we get the necessary resources for the Warriors.
“I want to assure the President and the entire Zimbabwe, on behalf of the Warriors 2019 Afcon Committee, that we will be very transparent.
“We will fully account for all the resources that will be raise in order to maintain the cordial relations that we have with the corporates and all the individuals that are going to support us.
“To that end we have engaged Pricewaterhouse Coopers to ensure that there is hygiene in our finances and I am glad to say that they have pledged their services free of charge as a contribution to this national cause,” said Kazembe.
Warriors’ team manager, Wellington Mpandare, said the Warriors are bracing themselves for the tournament as they seek to progress from the group stages for the first time. The Warriors were knocked out early in 2004, 2006 and 2017.
They arrived in Egypt last Sunday and are currently using the meagre resources from Zifa for their transport and upkeep during the final preparations in the North African country. Participating teams will only move to the official Caf hotels five days before the tournament kicks-off.
Speaking to our sister paper, The Herald from Cairo yesterday, Mpandare said Zifa had done their best to secure decent accommodation and food supplies, which are a bit expensive in Egypt. The team has also been paying around US$200 for bus hire every day and US$500 for the training pitch daily.
“Remember we can only get into the official hotel five days before the start of the tournament, which is on Sunday. So it was not going to be easy for Zifa and the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) did something that we really never expected.
“There is no greater way of saying thank you Cde President, the fund-raising committee and everyone who is playing a part. This is your team representing the country and we are the ambassadors of Zimbabwe here.
“We appreciate what the President (Mnangagwa) and the people of Zimbabwe are doing. The boys have promised to do their best and they want to do it for the President and for all the Zimbabweans.
“Like what the President said, we are Zimbabweans, he is Zimbabwean and you are Zimbabwean. They don’t have to look for a reason to support us and we also don’t have to look for reasons to represent Zimbabwe,” said Mpandare.
Zifa president, Felton Kamambo, said the Warriors have made it clear they will go out of their way to bring back home positive results if their welfare and upkeep were taken care of.
“On behalf of Zifa and the Warriors, I would like to profoundly thank the President of Zimbabwe His Excellency, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, for seeing it fit to appoint a committee to source funds for the cause of our senior national team.
“Like I said before we are not going there to make numbers but to compete and bring results back home. The Egypt 2019 Afcon tournament has presented a perfect opportunity to take our brand high up there to compete with the best in Africa.
“I believe in our squad and I am positive that we are going to be a surprise package. Those who have already made the decision to partner us on this journey, I say thank you so much. Those who are still thinking about it don’t hesitate to be part of history,” said Kamambo.