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Good Corporate Governance the solution to Zimbabwe's sporting challenge

08 Dec 2019 at 14:18hrs | Views
Zimbabwe has a rich sporting history, the golden girls, the black family, Ian Robertson, Artwell Mandaza, George Shaya, Tracy Cox just to name a few great names in Zimbabwe's sporting history. Our Great Nation has struggled in recent times to reach the yesteryear's success largely due to their inability to participate in international competitions with the leadership heavily involved in board room squabbles caused by poor corporate governance. Without good corporate governance in Zimbabwe, the sporting sector will continue to fall behind and there is now a need for reform at top level which is essential to the future of sport.

It is without a doubt that the performance of current Zimbabwean sportspersons is well below par and poor corporate governance in sports, lack of professionalism and the absence of strong domestic competition are the key reasons that keep us where we are today.

In the 1980s, sport evolved from amateur where sportspersons, relied heavily on the volunteers who spent their lives supporting sport, from clubs through to governing bodies and indeed to international federations. Large-scale international sponsors and television coverage transformed the world of sport in the mid 1990s as billions of dollars came into it but the approach and the governance did not change.

It is true that the performance of Zimbabwe in the field of sports has been below potential. We are such a great nation that we should be competing with the best. The constraints that have kept us in this situation includes lack of professionalism, absence of strong domestic competition structure, lack of strong talent identification and long-term sport development systems . We have a very strong integration of sports with education at school, college and university levels, but lack adequate support in terms of high performance coaches and other support staff, sports sciences and medicine etc., which are other key reasons for the poor performance of Zimbabwe sportspersons. There is urgent need for continuous efforts to address these shortcomings.

National wide sports academies have been established in different disciplines like athletics, swimming, cycling, rowing, boxing, badminton, football and hockey, under which state-of-the-art facilities are provided to young and upcoming sportspersons. There is now a need for our government to set up a national sports university to build capacity in sports coaching, sports sciences, sports technology and sports management.

When chairing a company the goal of the chairperson is to compete to be the best. The job of any governing body, first and foremost, is to put in place the support mechanisms to ensure that sportspersons have the best opportunity to deliver their personal best on the day. The combination of quality management, a highly professional approach and good corporate governance provides the framework necessary to deliver your objectives and key performance indicators. In the context of a sporting body, the aim must be to be the best in the world and compete at the highest level. To run Zimbabwe's sport successfully there is now the need for the sporting fraternity to adopt the National Code of Corporate Governance in Zimbabwe (ZIMCODE) which encourage good corporate governance. The focus should be on the  three key building blocks for good corporate governance. For any sporting discipline to be a success the first is transparency on the decision-making process and the outcomes of those in charge of sport need to be wholly transparent and as a nation we are a long way from that point. The second which is equally important, is those who represent the sportsmen and women at every level of the game need to be accountable to them.  What this means is the sports leadership should be accountable to all other stakeholders in local, national and international sport levels, including the sponsors, the media and the officials who give a lifetime of commitment to sport.

The third element which does not exist in Zimbabwe ,yet common across the boarder in South Africa is professional management. The board of Polocrosse Association of Zimbabwe, for example, has a combination of top experts in the field and independent directors, together forming a cohesive unit that is transparent, accountable and professionally managed. There is absolutely no reason why that good corporate governance model should not be employed in every sporting local and  national governing body.

Zimbabwe's sporting disciplines lack business skills at board level in the sport sector, there is an absolute need for more business skills and more independent directors to be involved in local and national sports. Modern day sport is now a business and need a business model to be used in its approach. There is a need to look for the skillsets required to represent the sport, such as effective auditing processes, established nomination procedures, and quality non-executive directors with relevant experience. Sportspersons should be at the heart, not only of every governing body, but also represented on the board level.

The reason why there are very few sponsors and funders is because they expect good corporate governance within sporting organisations and it seems there is little progress. There is motivation for change which is ultimately coming from the sportspersons who are elected or appointed to represent them.No sponsor is going to fund any sporting discipline that is seen to damage their product/service or their commercial reputation. To move Zimbabwe's sport to international level sponsors and funders should be involved in the development of good corporate governance right from the start than getting involved when the event has started or after the event.

The future of Zimbabwe's sport is bleak without good corporate governance. The great extraordinary opportunities that sport can deliver can only be achieved if there is the right board, the quality of management and the right procedures and policies are in place as soon as possible. The future of Zimbabwe's sport is in our hands let us all play our part.


Engineer Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi

Chairman of the ICT Divison of Zimbabwe Institution Engineers (ZIE), Practising Engineer with the Engineering Council of Zimbabwe (ECZ), Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and a Councillor of Institute of Directors (IOD)

Source - Engineer Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi
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