Benjani backs Bunjira for Zifa presidency  

Austin Karonga

FORMER Warriors captain Benjani Mwaruwari believes Alois Bunjira might just be the ideal candidate to lead the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and will take the local game forward if given a chance.
Although the next Zifa elections are due in 2022, Bunjira has already thrown his hat into the ring to challenge the under-fire current president Felton Kamambo.


Benjani Mwaruwari
For many years, local football fans have been clamouring for former players to try and land the top job in local football.
However, there has been a lot of apathy by ex-players as they only aim for lesser roles in the Zifa executive committee.
Some of the notable former players that have been elected into the Zifa board are the late Edzai Kasinauyo, Methembe Ndlovu, Ben Moyo, John Phiri and Nigel Munyati but they all settled for the development portfolio.
In 2018, Benjani intended to contest for the Zifa presidency but he was not yet eligible since he had not reached the 40-year-age limit yet.
With Bunjira, a former Warriors, CAPS United and Mamelodi Sundowns winger, launching his campaign well ahead of the elections, Benjani believes he needs all the backing he can get.
Since retiring from playing Bunjira has gone on to earn journalism qualifications and is now a proven sportscaster and has also tried his hand in coaching.
“Bunjira is running for presidency, I think we need to support him. Let’s hope he’s ready, I spoke to him two weeks ago and I said I will be there for you and I will support you,” Benjani said during an interview with Robert Marawa on South Africa’s Radio 2000 at the weekend.
“He (Bunjira) asked me if I’m still going to run and I said I’m still preparing myself so go ahead and do it. We will support you and all the footballers if they see you, they will support you. Let’s hope he will (be able to) change football in Zimbabwe.”
Ever since he came into power by toppling Harare businessman Phillip Chiyangwa in 2018, Kamambo and his administration have made a number of missteps that have impacted Zimbabwe football in a negative way.


Kamambo is currently facing a probe after it was alleged he bribed Zifa councillors to vote for him during that election.
The Warriors’ camp at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt descended into chaos after players threatened to boycott the matches over unpaid allowances and appearance fees.
This is despite the government ensuring Zifa had the necessary funds to finance all the team’s basic needs at the tournament.
Zifa is also facing allegations of financial mismanagement after the association transferred Fifa funds from their account into the account of a company owned by board member for finance Philemon Machana.
The association’s handling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) relief aid has also attracted a lot of criticism from clubs and their affiliates.
Benjani, who starred for Manchester City, Portsmouth and Blackburn Rovers in the English Premiership,  is currently completing his coaching badges course and also pursuing a sports management degree.
The former Jomo Cosmos striker believes with all the knowledge he is absorbing during his studies, he will be able to be a competent Zifa president later on.
“I think in future yes (I will run for Zifa presidency) because when I tried, there was a loophole and then there was nobody there. Sometimes chances come quick you know so unfortunately age was not on my side. They said I was too young there was a constitution that said no one under 40 should lead the federation,” Benjani, who turns 42 in August, said.
“There’s a problem with people who are scared that as footballers we will come and do great things they just tighten it up with different things.
“When I look at it, I think it was a blessing really (because) at the moment I’m doing sports management. Sometimes you need to be ready. In terms of football, I know what needs to be done.
“I’m doing even my coaching badges and I’m half way through my Uefa A. We are just waiting for the practical. I’m attached to Portsmouth at the moment with this pandemic everything was closed, we just did it online, hopefully I will make it.”

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