HARARE – Businessman Wicknell Chivayo says nothing will stop him from paying the Warriors $250 000 bonus he promised them if they qualified for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
After the Warriors defeated Swaziland back in March, Chivayo promised to give the squad the bonus if they went on to seal their place at next year’s tournament to be held in Gabon.
Kalisto Pasuwa’s men went on to do exactly that, when they beat Malawi 3-0 on Sunday to assure their place at the top of Group L.
While the Intratrek Zimbabwe boss has been facing questions about his company’s lucrative solar deals with the Zimbabwe Power Company — resulting in growing fears that he might not honour his pledge — the controversial businessman says he has no regrets about his involvement in the country’s biggest sport.
“You will read about me every single day in the papers; some say this, some say I’m overweight and others say I’m a criminal,” Chivayo said while addressing the players at a banquet organised by National Football Association of Zimbabwe president Philip Chiyangwa on Monday night.
“But after all has been said and done, I remain committed to supporting the Warriors as long as . . . Chiyangwa is still in office.
“The other day, I was speaking with my girlfriend and she asked me, ‘what are the Warriors going to do since there is an article in the paper saying you are going to get arrested?’ and I told her I will give instructions to my lawyers to make sure that my players are paid.
“I will give the lawyer power of attorney to go transact from my bank account and make sure that my players are paid.
“So don’t worry about that. As long as I’m alive; the players will get paid anywhere in the world.”
The Harare businessman, who greatly divides opinion among Zimbabweans due to the way he openly flaunts his wealth, said he is a man of his word and will honour promise.
“I was in discussion with …Chiyangwa this morning and he said even if we lose our last match in September against Guinea 10-0, we have already qualified,” Chivayo said.
“I said to him why should we wait until September? Let’s pay the players the $250 000 I promised them.
“We are not just talkers; that’s why our contract was on one page. Everybody was commenting; why is it on one page, we need lawyers.
“I said; me and …Chiyangwa are happy with this one-page contract; it has both our signatures and what we have written is binding.”
Chivayo added: “So captain (Willard Katsande) your players must be assured that their money is coming.
“Those in South Africa will get their money there. We have got dread (Costa Nhamoinesu) and Knowledge (Musona) in Europe; they will get their money there.
“We have got a bit of money all over the world so you will get your money.”
Due to the current cash crisis, the money will be deposited into the players’ accounts in the coming days.
Chivayo claims all the bad press he has been receiving in recent weeks is being driven by small-minded people since he signed the $1 million contract with Chiyangwa.
“We had good coverage from the media but I must admit it also caused a lot of hatred,” he said.
“When you sponsor $1 million in any economy like this everybody begins to wonder; ambone marii munhu iyeye? (How much money does this guy have?)
“Ari kuisirei mari yakawanda kudai kubhora? (Why is he pouring so much money into football?) People begin scratching their heads.
“Zimbabweans have a bad perception about rich people. They say munhu wese ane mari ane chikwambo, imbavha (every rich person uses black magic or they are criminals) and all those funny stories.”
Chivayo said the expensive gifts he has given to some selected squad members should not cause disharmony in the team.
“Look, what is very important and what I want the players to know is that don’t get jealous that I have taken Costa and Musona for shopping,” he said.
“Your time will also come. Pandichakubatira ipapo uchaturira vanhu vese kuti ndazosangana nayo mbada (when I bump into you one day, you will tell everyone you have finally met a wealthy man).
“The captain (Katsande) is also happy. I just woke up one morning in the right mood and bought him a brand new car.
“He was surprised to tell you the truth and to the rest of the players your time will come; just be patient.
“I will even sell these expensive shoes I’m wearing just to pay the players.”