By Hopewell Chizuzu
Acting Director General of the Sports and Recreation Commission, who arrived in Cameroon on Thursday last week on the eve of the Malawi match has caused serious problems in the Zimbabwean camp, serene before his arrival, The Page can reveal.
Sebastian Garikai, the SRC supremo has embarrassed everyone in Cameroon including the more professional officials from the ministry of youth, arts, sports and recreation led by Benson Dube by his drunkenness which has forced even the players to complain.
Ironically his board ably run by Gerald Mlotshwa and a team of dedicated and thoroughly committed professionals has been an oasis of professionalism and proficiency.
Despite him being the last of the Zimbabwean entourage to Cameroon, bringing money and other logistical needs, even forced the cancellation of scheduled payments for players ahead of the Malawi match, forcing the team to sleep well after midnight as they queued without success for the promised payments.
Drunk, reckless and unreasonable, Garikai embarrassed even Dube by reminding him that he (Garikai) was in charge. “With all that the SRC have been doing, we as players appreciates that very much, but we are very surprised how this man comes and starts belittling everyone like this.
“He is blaming everyone and had us as players wait for payments, something that had never happened before his arrival. We appreciate that he is the boss at SRC, but surely he can do that soberly, not as drunk as he has been.
“The man can’t literally walk because of beer, but worse is what he says telling off everyone at every turn. How can he surely tell our coaches that he will fire them upon arrival at home right in front of us. He even said some players are useless and fake. That is very disrespectful.
“Maybe that is what Kanji (popular Castel beer )does to people but this is very bad from a man of his position. We as players never had problems until this man arrived. In fact some of us did not even know who he was, until he started telling us that everyone here was under him,” one player who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
Another one asked, “Why is he behaving like beer gives him something strange? We as players are very appreciative of what our government has done and as far as we are concerned we never had to meet and talk about our payments but when this man arrived, we were made to wait until midnight and still nothing happened.
“Instead of us focusing on the match against Malawi, we had to queue for payments at the behest of this boss from SRC, after breakfast, and the process took longer than was necessary. Worse, the man was drunk even in the morning. Anenge anwa nguvai?
“This Garikai boss boss was not even considerate of the other government officials he came with, who didn’t have accommodation. I am not sure where they slept Thursday night. I do not want to say that the team was affected by that but considering the peace we had before he came, this also had a hand because we slept late and had a busy morning getting our payments”.
Garikai refuted the allegations saying there are just people meant to destroy his career. “Ah that is not true, these are people fighting me or perhaps want me out of office so that the efforts to clean our game suffer. This is not fair at all,” cried Garikai.
“They want to throw me under the bus,” he added.
But the coincidence is interesting. Since his arrival in Cameroon everything has been changed and people are unhappy including officials from the SRC, Warriors and government, al though they refused to talk to The Page.
Why the uproar? Scapegoat for poor Afcon?
Meanwhile the Warriors are training at 1630 ahead of tomorrow last Group B match against Guinea in Yauonde.
Zimbabwe will be missing the suspended Teenage Hadebe and Kelvin Madzongwe while Ishmael Wadi is injured and Alec Mudimu ill, but everyone has again, returned negative Covid-19 tests, leaving the Warriors as the only team to never had a single case of COVID-19.
This is attributed to robust bio bubble mounted and managed by experienced doctors Ed Chagonda and Nic Munyonga.
Strict monitoring and frequent testing even outside the CAF guidelines has kept the Zimbabwean team safe from the pandemic. The compliance officers have done a splendid job and the government is happy to have such selfless professionals in line of duty as ambassadors.
Zimbabwe, who will return home soon after the match after having lost their first two matches will need our support and the disappointment against Malawi must not force us to throw the bath water and the dish too. They remain our national team and need everyone’s shoulder and not forsake them because they failed.
As we wore yellow against Malawi in support, let us also welcome them at the airport and not forget to thank the SRC and government for making this Afcon possible as suspended ZIFA executive committee pulled all the stops to make sure Cameroon 2021 does not happen without them. Shameful Guptas could have their last supper at EGM on January 29.
The match is at Ahmadou Ahidjo Omnisport Stadium in the capital and kick off is at 1800hrs.
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