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PLS NEEDS A ‘BIBLICAL JOSHUA’

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My dearest readers ... Sunday, January 14, 2018. 6:50pm.
A rascal, with no regard for life, pulled the trigger that ended the life of the dearly departed Premier League of Swaziland (PLS) Chairman, Victor ‘Maradona’ Gamedze.


In more ways than one, the sun set even on the football landscape, in particular the Premier League of Swaziland (PLS), which since that fateful evening has become an enclave of a power struggle that would make Zimbabwean politics look like a Sunday school picnic. No doubt, the untimely death of Gamedze did leave us with a lot of unanswered questions and a fear that football would suffer immensely.

As the wheels of justice continue to grind on, the signs are there for all to see just how influential he was as we pick up the pieces. The future doesn’t look bright. We all have wondered if, in our midst, we do have someone capable of carrying on the baton. A biblical Joshua, so to speak. We have looked around  and the reality is that emehlo ahlaba phansi.

But life has to go on. Gamedze himself did not become an astute administrator overnight. He made mistakes - plenty. His obsession with the success of his team at all costs was evident at times to the detriment of competition in the elite league. He was no saint – far from it. But there is no soul in football which can doubt that he had the Midas touch.

His administration style, unique as it was, lacking in corporate governance as it were, felt like the second coming of Jesus. He walked on water. He was a Mandela-esque or a Modern Day biblical Moses who was to take us from bondage to the Football Promised Land – a land of honey and milk.

One of the lucky few, if not the only one, official whose ideas got the support from all stakeholders at whim; every little achievement was embellished. His word became law. Even those who disagreed with his ideas in meetings sheepishly clapped hands when he spoke. He was a smooth operator. He was a sweet-talker.

He could sell ice to an Eskimo and an egg to a hen. Now he is gone to a better place. A place not inhabited by two-faced sponging leeches who smiled at his face as long as he greased their palms but talked badly about him as soon as he turned his back. The new dawn we experienced when he was still with us, like a puff of smoke, has evaporated into nothingness. As my favourite Sunday Times political analyst, Barney Mthombothi wrote in his column last week about incumbent South Africa’s President Cyril Ramphosa, things have gone worse.


The resignation of acting chairman Mark Carmichael on Friday might have come as a shock to many but not this grandson of Mlonyeni. I get along very well with Carmichael, a humble soul who wouldn’t hurt a straying fly even if it sat on his nose. We speak almost every day on many football and life issues, in general. He knows his story.

He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. More than anything, the man is passionate about the game and development but it was just a matter of time before he stepped down because the power struggle within the PLS Executive Committee is brutal and not for the faint-hearted. Maybe Carmichael needed to locate his backbone, quickly to survive because in the dirty football politics, courage is a critical element in leadership.
Trigger
From the time that buffoon pulled the trigger that snuffed the life out of the amiable Gamedze, some people already nursed big ambitions of taking over the PLS chairmanship. The knives were out. Carmichael, even on an acting basis, was certainly going to get betrayed, lied to, questioned and made to look like someone out of his depth. His honest corporate governance approach in an organisation that during Gamedze’s time thrived on prompt decisions and never really followed corporate governance, wasn’t going to suffice. It frustrated the hell out of Carmichael in his short reign as he wanted to put in place a structure; something that is foreign to many souls in that office. Sometimes he found himself lonely and unpopular even within the Executive Committee as his fellow colleagues manoeuvred to oust him in their quest to lay their hands on the levers of power. His resignation was long time coming. I was lucky enough to speak to him on Thursday afternoon in a phone call that lasted close to an hour as he poured his heart out on how disappointed he was and why he felt betrayed by the people he trusted with his life. Under the obtaining scenario where the Executive Committee met without his knowledge, resolved to change the format of the Swazi Telecom Charity Cup, which also led to a shocking decision to exclude his team in the process, would make any man reconsider why he is the chairman in the first place if he is not consulted on such critical issues. It was a vote of no confidence from his own Executive Committee members. It broke the camel’s back. I don’t blame Carmichael for stepping down. Anyone would have taken such a decision. He is too nice a person to withstand the dirty politics being played in the football corridors of power where people would tame a lion just to keep their positions irrespective of whether they contribute anything to the sport or not. Some even think they have a God-given right to hold such positions. Others think it’s hereditary. My Goodness!
The truth and reality is that the PLS, as a fast-growing organisation, needs a father-figure boss to take it forward. It needs someone who will not make wholesome changes to the ones Gamedze left but see where he/she can tweak to make the organisation viable and realise its true potential.
The PLS needs a strong and capable CEO for starters. The organisation already handles millions of Emalangeni and it needs to be properly administered. It needs to get a chairman with a vision to take it forward and this must be done urgently even if it calls for constitutional amendments. This somnambulistic approach in running an organisation with such high potential is not doing the game any favour. The PLS needs to effect constitutional changes in order to be able to attract capable individuals even outside the ambit of their team’s affiliation space.
If there is no one capable in the calibre of administrators within their Executive Committee or Board members, then it would make sense to cast their net wide. Maybe, for now, someone within the Executive Committee can take over on an acting basis for the remainder of the two years left on the term of office. Then when the elective Annual General Meeting is held in two years’ time, a new chairman can take over who will lead football to the Promised Land. With all due respect, in the current crop, this chairmanship position would be like seeing bald-headed men fighting over a comb!
Lord have mercy ...

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