The sanctioning board for Zimbabwean boxers, promoters, managers, referees, cornermen and tournaments
WHEN YOU FEEL YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS ARE BEING DENIED, YOU JUST LOOK FORWARD TO THE TRUTH TO SET YOU FREE. MY SADDEST, MOST EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE IN LIFE SO FAR:
Honourable Minister, officials from the Sports and Recreation Ministry and Boxing Control Board Members: I am not gifted in the art of speech, but am better with my writing, hence I have put this short defence to guide me as we try to get to the bottom of the matter at hand. I wrote a first letter directed to you, Minister, not because of the need to back-bite, but due to the fact that your office is the appointing authority of the Zimbabwe National Boxing Control Board, which unit I was a member of. I was not happy with the decision arrived at by the office you referred me to for my case to be heard at a stakeholders’ meeting and after the second letter, I am grateful you have decided to meet with the two involved parties (the Boxing Control Board and myself)
I will first confine myself to the reasons given by my fellow former board members for denying me my constitutional right to practice what I wish to do and can, thereafter, beef up my appeal with a bit of history about myself and the sport in general.
1. Looking at the letter of rejection signed by the chairman, which copy is before you right now, you can see (at the top) an address that could presumably probably be his own home address and not a business address. I have never been to that place, never heard about it or visited it and so same applies to most stakeholders particularly the people whom we serve – the boxers. It further confirms my statements that national boxing business is being done in people’s homes and that to me is not professional, neither is ethical.
2. I applied for a boxer’s licence on 8 March and the response (as you can see on the response letter) is dated 26 June which means it was written 4 months later. I was to receive the letter in the afternoon of 22 July (coincidentally my birthday), another month later and that to me is gross inefficiency whether it was intentional or there was a purpose the delay was supposed to serve. That, the board knows best.
3. The letter talks of a full board meeting held to come to the decision not to award me a licence. If my memory serves me right, there were 8 of us appointed onto the board and another member was added later during my tenure. Now, 4 members have since stepped down (Dr Farai Muchena, Alexander Kwangwari, Ed Hammond and myself). Another (Charles Dzimba) never attended a single meeting during the 2-year period that I served on this board and I don’t even know what he looks like should I bump into him. That should tell you something is not right about the composition of the board herein referred as “a full board.”
4. The letter further states that my resignation was not proper, but I would pose the question: was my appointment proper in the first place? I did not campaign to be on this board, but was simply asked to submit my CV to the SRC, which I did. I later learnt I had been appointed onto the board while I was on holiday with my son out in Kariba through the media and the confirmation followed through a telephone call that I was to collect a letter of appointment from the Ministry. We convened our first meeting at the ZRP Golf Club two months later and during the entirety of my tenure I was never introduced to or formally met my appointing authority - the Minister. This is despite the fact that we ended up holding our meetings in this very building, on this very floor where the Minister also had his office.
5. I denounced the Ministry in public (media): It was the same forum that I first got to hear about my appointment and I don’t think there should have been anything secret about my stepping down. In fact, I emailed the chairman who was away my resignation letter and gave a hard copy to the vice-chairperson who was present on December 1, 2014) and when the media asked for the reasons, I simply forwarded them same. You could say that I was a bit crude in giving accompanying reasons for my resignation, but as a journalist I am forever reporting on the plights of people who are subjected to short-changes and when same happens to me, do you honestly think I should keep quiet and ‘die’ a silent death? Anyway, I can explain how I was compelled to resign at that 11th hour (and not on another day) if you want to know.
6. On allegations of dealings with Mendy for over a decade: I can confirm that I have known Edward Mendy for 12 years now (we got to know each other back in 2003 to be specific) and in November 2006 he assisted me to put up a tournament at the HICC – it’s arguably the only tournament that has been held at such a magnificent venue in the history of boxing in this country to date.
Can this board give supporting evidence of any business deals between me and Mendy that qualifies for conflict of interest during my service to the board? Did he ever put up a tournament here in Zimbabwe (during my time on the board) from which I benefitted, sign up a boxer or do any other business with this board that compromised my standing as a board member? I will not deny having known Mendy for that long (which was long before my appointment anyway) and I even indicated him by name at our very first meeting at the ZRP Club together with a couple of others whom I suggested could help us uplift the sport of boxing.
When Mendy was coming to Zimbabwe (three months after I had resigned), I notified the board about his intentions to meet with the members; even forwarded his travel itinerary to them and for reasons justified by their response to him two months later, he could not invest in sport in this country. Unless you are saying I should have ‘unknown’ Mendy maybe that allegation could hold water, but I kindly request proof to the effect that me and him engaged in a manner that was of a conflict of interest nature.
My contribution to boxing :
I may never had thrown a punch in the ring, but I have known, followed and supported this sport with a passion for 30 years.
- I used to do a weekly column in The Sunday Mail (Boxing Corner) between 2003-6 and this turned to be a platform where the boxing following community got appraised of happenings in the sport.
- I applied for a place for a gym for the former Light-heavyweight and heavyweight national champion (Arigoma Chiponda) in St Mary’s back in 2005, personally persuading the then mayor of the City (Elderman Andrew Jiri) to give him a dilapidated place I had seen in the area. This was after some equipment was donated to Chiponda after he had fought Gary Delany for the Commonwealth title. As I speak Chiponda still has that place (Powerhouse Gym) and is earning a living from it, having retired from his job in the Air Force of Zimbabwe. He can confirm this on his cell number: 0775 808 404 (also see pix)
- When another boxing champion was imprisoned (Alfonso Zvenyika) I spent a weekend inside Harare Central prison following him up for a feature article that expressed his plight and upon his release, I was the only person waiting for him with a car at the prison gate to take him home. I organized a welcome bash for him in typical prodigal son fashion that same night and facilitated for him to spend a week at a friend’s farm so he could rest. I then approached the then Dynamos treasurer, the late Victor Nyaumwe, who was a businessman in Mbare to assist him with capital to start off. When Zvenyika’s wife died and she was in the mortuary for a whole week because he could not afford the burial fees and a grave, I personally approached Philip Chiyangwa to come to his rescue and we were able to decently lay his wife to rest. You can confirm this with Zvenyika himself on 0779 117 612; Philip Chiyangwa on 0772 411 242 or even Patrick Mukondiwa here who was part of the previous Boxing Control Board and the current (0772 941 773).
- I have travelled and endured the hardships of boxing promotion from the time I was a novice journalist, walking on foot with determined characters of the likes of the late Kid Power for long distances on foot in places like Kwekwe (from the Blood Spot in Amaveni to Mbizo Area 14, just for the love of the sport.
- During my tenure on the boxing board, I spearheaded what is probably one of its best highlights – the organization of a workshop for journalists which took place in the boardroom of the Ministry of Sport in 2014.
- I executed my task with utmost diligence and don’t have any outstanding work unsubmitted which work (as secretary centred around handling correspondence and taking minutes of board minutes)
- The fact that my resignation was accepted to me meant a closed chapter in the capacity of board member (I was never called for a hearing to answer to any charges)
- I have had two requests to reconsider my decision but I have stood by my decision but indicated I could only assist where the board needed my services (even without having received a penny for seating allowances entitled to me according to the Boxing and Wrestling Control Board Act. It has always been and will always be boxing first for me even if I am called to volunteer)
- He is the face of boxing in Zimbabwe, the only personality we can talk about at the moment who, however, is plying his trade outside his country of origin. I have assisted him in various ways in his career and he can personally allude to this on his mobile number: 0773 365 001.
1. Travelling at my own expense to cover his fights in Zambia for the Herald, The Sunday Mail, H-Metro and Kwayedza. I never asked for a cent from these papers for the articles I wrote.
2. Ensuring a press conference was held for him to meet with sports journalists from the time he won the African Boxing Union in Burkina Faso, defended it Zambia; won the WBC, defended it. The idea was to enable members of the media the chance to hear it direct from him and meet with him as he would go Masvingo where the press complained they sometimes failed to access him due to network problems
3. In 2014 before he was nominated for the Sportsman and Sportsperson of the Year, I facilitated for his first meaningful local recognition with Delta Beverages when he was invited to present an award at the Soccer Stars of the Year banquet at the Cresta Lodge (see pix)
4. Upon his return from his first defence of WBC on 22 November 2014 against Devis Caceres of Colombia, I was waiting for him at the Roadport at 9pm to disembark from a Zupco bus - his WBC belt in his bag - and I helped him seek accommodation in the Avenues so he could put up for the night before continuing with his journey to Masvingo the following day. There was no one from the Ministry or other body in this welcome despite the fact that on 18 March a press conference had been held in the board room here at the Ministry where 2 Ministers pledged to support the boy with his preparations. Nothing was done for him and he had to endure the preparations on his own.
5. I personally mobilized and persuaded my friends in the United Kingdom (7 of them) to travel to Italy to support Charles when he fought Gianlucca Frezza in July this year, this despite the fact that I was no longer a member of the board. I gave them reason to believe they were nearer, could afford it and it was important to give him moral support (Pse listen to Marshall Gore’s audio updating me of their travel).
6. I was up until 2 am to do the story about his victory for The Herald (even his parents depended on me for the result).
7. When he arrived at the airport, I was waiting for him and his management team with transport I had personally hired from Monkey Safaris with my own money. No one was there from the board; no one was there from the Ministry. I facilitated the press conference that created all the hype which led to him being invited the following day to Munhumutapa Building to meet with the President. Contrary to the promises communicated to us through the Ministry that His Excellency had accepted meeting with Charles from March last year to August this year, the President himself said he was hearing for the first time about Charles’ achievements – which means someone was being economic with the truth. However, someone even thought I did not deserve to be at the banquet hosted for Charles by the President at State House by ensuring my name was deleted from the list of invited guests. But because I am a journalist, I ended up using my press card to gain entry and be witness to the worthwhile event.
8. With the consent of his management team, I facilitated for Charles to carry out a social responsibility gesture by visiting an orphanage in the area he grew up in Mutoko (Mother of Peace) where I asked him to donate a few clothing items to the orphaned young boys and girls at the institution (pix) as a way to build his image as a new celebrity and I am happy to say he obliged.
9. Just recently (last month), I facilitated for Charles’ appearance at the International Olympic Day commemorations at the Aquatic Complex in Chitungwiza so he could share with the other youngsters the challenges and benefits associated with being a national and international champion. I give credit to him because he still believes in me for advice and guidance even when I am not part of his management team or the board, which assistance I give to him for no charge at all.
- I believe I have what it takes to be a successful boxing promoter and manager given the exposure I have had over the years and my understanding of the sport. The fact that I was privileged to have been appointed an administrator (Secretary of the Boxing Control Board) is an advantage as I am conscious of many other things many people who have been licenced are not aware of.
- I have a publishing company (The Courier) which is registered with the Zimbabwe Media Commission and serves the province of Mashonaland East, distributed for free to all the corners of the Province, the objective being to give the people in the area a source for news of what is happening in and around them. It is supported by advertisers who help me to offset production and other costs.
- I have held various positions of responsibility which include the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists Zimpapers Harare Branch chairman; a board member of the Zimpapers Pension Fund and founding chairman of Herald Football Club.
- I have single-handedly initiated the Zimpapers Media Awards (2006-9) which involved all the journalists from the company (10 publications in total then). I managed to get sponsorship from not less than 12 companies which included banks and corporates such as National Foods, Beta Ball Sports, Pamuzinda Highway Xcape and Delta Corporation and for three consecutive years (2007-9) hosted 350 guests at the Rainbow Towers to what later became the biggest in-house event for the company to date (you can phone the company’s HR department for confirmation).
- I have helped secure 50 housing stands for journalists and other staff from Zimpapers as part of efforts to ensure their welfare is secured and advocated for the company to pay for the stands and later deduct the money from their earnings using a stop-order facility. And yet I don’t have a stand of my own in that area.
- I have invited and hosted at my home the president of the World Boxing Organisation - Africa, Andrew Smale (+278 20888633) and he reciprocated the invitation by having me in South Africa where I visited Boxing SA, gyms in and around Johannesburg and personalities like Alfred Bunqana (President’s Merit award recipient) so I could have an appreciation of how the SA boxing has succeeded.
- For 2 years I was the local manager of three-time Comrades Marathon winner Stephen Muzhingi (Cell: 0779 106 313) and facilitated for his invitation to a State banquet in August 2011; acquisition of a diplomatic passport, a job with the Airforce of Zimbabwe and brokered sponsorship deals for him with Seedco, Pro Brands, Old Mutual and Innscor.
- By nature of my professional ( besides being a print journalist, I also hold qualifications in Communication, Public Relations, Marketing, Broadcasting, Multi media, Diplomacy and International Relations), I am no doubt connected to people from various parts of the world who can assist in my efforts to uplift the sport of boxing in this capacity I have chosen.
- I am a member of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Zimbabwe National Editors Forum, Pan African Media Alliance, African Federation of Environmental Journalists, World Forum of Science Journalists, COMESA Climate Change Network for Journalists;
- I have won seven national media awards.
- I have adjudicated at the national RTG E-Africa Environmental Journalist of the Year Awards (2011-13) and the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe Journalistic Awards (2012-2014)
- I have done consultancy work for the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Zimbabwe Farmers Union, Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO); Goal Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Forestry Commission and the Centre for International Forestry Research
- I am of fixed abode
Conclusively, Honourable Minister, we can argue, mud-sling, fight trivial personal battles, exhibit how powerful an authority we can be to make things happen or not happen, but at the end of the day (just as the grass suffers when two elephants fight) it is the boxer and not Munetsi who will suffer because he has been denied a licence.
I do not earn a living from boxing, but it is imperative to know that the mainly poor people we serve (boxers) have nothing else to eke a living from, but expect their God-given talent to sustain a livelihood. Personally, I cannot call a three-year term without a tournament leaving a legacy. I, however, remain touched when I visit the gyms (at Stodart in Mbare, Epworth, St Mary’s) and see the young men practicing with no expectation of a fight coming their way).
We need people with a heart; people who can liberate the sport because the mandate, as was spelt out in our letters of appointment, was for us “to revive the sport of boxing from the doldrums”. I thank you for having considered calling this meeting (between the board and myself) to hear both sides of the story. With these few words, I rest my case, Sir.
C/O Sports And Recreation Commssion; Zimbabwe National Sports Stadium, Bulawayo Rd
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