CONTROVERSIAL businessman and socialite Wicknell Chivayo wore his trademark wide grin as he joined the queue of the local and foreign dignitaries during the pre-match formalities ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Liberia at the National Sports Stadium last Sunday.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
His bulky figure brings memories of a successful last campaign in which he stood by the team, paying the coach although questionably so and rewarding the Warriors for qualifying for the Gabon Africa Cup of Nations.
He looked like the third most powerful man in Zifa after Phillip Chiyangwa and his deputy Omega Sibanda
But wait; in what capacity was Chivayo among the dignitaries, who included Sports Minister Makhosini Hlongwane, especially following widespread reports that he vowed never to sponsor the Warriors again late last year?
Chivayo was accused of creating division in the Warriors camp when he bought gifts to some foreign-based players following a fruitful 2017 Afcon qualification campaign while the local contingent was left in the shade.
He reportedly declared that he would no longer be sponsoring the Warriors, but the chest-beating businessman denied ever saying he would stop sponsoring the national team.
“I never said I would stop sponsoring the Warriors. I am with them until Afcon 2019 and forever. I have decided that I don’t want to publicise what I give the players because I realised that’s what created all the controversy the last time,” he said in an interview with Sports World.
“It led to people asking all sorts of questions like how much I gave them, where I was getting the money and stuff like that. So I have resolved that whatever I decide to give them remains between us.”
The Warriors began the 2019 Afcon campaign with a resounding three nil win and it was Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries founder Walter Magaya who stole the limelight after he hosted the team during their camp at his Yadah Hotel Complex and pledged to give them winning bonuses.
In all this, Chivayo was lurking somewhere in the shadows and even lauded Magaya’s benevolent gesture on his Facebook page while he also hinted that he was still a sponsor.
“…A big thank you and special mention to prophet Magaya and his partners of PHD Ministries for all the amazing 5 star hospitality they gave our team at their magnificent hotel in Waterfalls……may God bless the hand that gives….Sponsorship becomes very exciting when there are other corporates and patriotic citizens showing support,” read part of the post.
Chivayo pledged $1 million to Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa back in December 2015 barely three weeks into his tenure of office and since then he has been a constant feature around the Warriors.
He has bought vehicles for use by last Warriors and Mighty Warriors coaches’ Kalisto Pasuwa and Shadreck Mlauzi which were, however, repossessed by Zifa after they were given the sack.
Chivayo also pledged $250 000 to the Warriors for qualifying for the Gabon tournamental though questions remain on how much the players actually received.