Mkhululi Sibanda/Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Sunday News Reporters
THE late Vice-President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo was an avid Dynamos Football Club supporter who would always demand to be kept posted on the team’s fixtures, results and log standings, his former top security aide has revealed.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday News, Dr Nkomo’s former head of security Cde Nehemiah Nyathi said Dynamos occupied a special spot in Father Zimbabwe’s heart. Cde Nyathi served as part of Dr Nkomo’s security team from May 1980 until 1 July 1999 when the VP passed on. He said although Dr Nkomo was not all that hooked into football, he would always keep tabs on Dynamos and would at times go to watch the team play each time especially if it came to Bulawayo.
“He didn’t love football that much, but I wouldn’t say he hated the sport as well. What I know is that his favourite team was Dynamos. He would always ask us to keep him posted on Dynamos fixtures and results. It was part of our duty to keep him updated.”
Cde Nyathi said Dr Nkomo also loved Highlanders but not as much as he loved Dynamos.
“Of course he loved Highlanders but not as much as he did Dynamos. He (Dr Nkomo) knew that most of us were Highlanders supporters and when Highlanders was playing at Barbourfields and Dynamos was playing elsewhere he would say, ‘Asambeni eBF, manje iDynamos ke kuzwakalani madoda, kumi njani?’” (Lets go to BF, but what is happening with Dynamos).
“When we were there (Barbourfields) he would want to be kept posted on how Dynamos was playing. He would watch Highlanders just for fun, but the team he really loved was Dynamos,” he said.
Cde Nyathi said while Father Zimbabwe loved Dynamos, he, however, never attempted to seek the team’s executive and discuss about his favourite team. He said Dr Nkomo followed DeMbare until his death.
“Even until his last days, he would always keep tabs on Dynamos,” said Cde Nyathi.
Asked on how Dr Nkomo viewed the perception that Dynamos was a team for the Shona tribe while Highlanders was for the Ndebeles, Cde Nyathi said the late VP disliked such divisive notions.
“This talk of Dynamos belonging to Shona people and Highlanders being a Ndebele team comes from people who lack knowledge. There has never been a time when Highlanders has been dominated by Ndebele players.
“It (Highlanders) always had a mixture of people from different ethnic backgrounds,” he said.
Cde Nyathi added, “Dr Nkomo was against racial and tribal segregation and would always implore football administrators not to discriminate players on racial or tribal grounds.”
Dr Nkomo’s former aide said the late VP, however, had problems with Zimbabwe Saints because of the team’s initial name (Mashonaland United), which had tribal undertones.
“The problem was with Zimbabwe Saints. Umdala didn’t quite understand that team. Its formation seemed like it was meant to exalt a certain tribe. But they (Dr Joshua Nkomo and Dr Herbert Ushewokunze) succeeded to change that thinking. They helped change the two teams’ names from Mashonaland United to Zimbabwe Saints and Matabeleland Highlanders to Highlanders,” said Cde Nyathi.
He blamed the media for fuelling the rivalry between the country’s two biggest football clubs, Highlanders and Dynamos, leading to violence in some instances.
“The problem is with the media as well. You fuel the rivalry with the way you write. When I read the paper and I’m told that Dynamos are Highlanders’ fierce rivals, my perception is shaped in a certain way. Such language causes people to fight,” said Cde Nyathi.
Following revelations of Dr Nkomo’s love for Dynamos, the team’s fans may feel vindicated for dancing around Dr Nkomo’s statue in Bulawayo last month ahead of the team’s game against Highlanders at Barbourfields.
Nonetheless, the match was abandoned in the first half, with the teams tied 1-1, after Highlanders fans protested Dynamos’ controversial equaliser. Dynamos were awarded the game on a 3-0 score-line by the Premier Soccer League Disciplinary Committee with Highlanders being fined. Highlanders have since challenged the ruling.