Mugabe's nephew in Fifa deal
By Craig McKune, Cape Times
February 22 2010 at 08:29AM
In Zimbabwe, the exclusive and lucrative contract to sell Fifa's World Cup hospitality packages has been awarded to president Robert Mugabe's nephew, businessman and former Zanu-PF MP Philip Chiyangwa, who is the subject of international sanctions.
Chiyangwa's Native Investment Group (NIG) was hand-picked late last year to sell World Cup packages for Fifa.
While ticket prices are being slashed in South Africa to fill stadiums, and Zimbabwean fans had only bought 546 tickets by the beginning of this month, Chiyangwa has claimed his Native Investment Group, which he directs, is doing a rip-roaring trade.
Fifa's hospitality packages - including premium match tickets, catering, entertainment, "dedicated hostesses" and travel packages - are managed internationally by Match Hospitality, which appoints regional agents and sub-agents such as NIG.
Match Hospitality is run by Fifa president Sepp Blatter's nephew Philippe Blatter, through his sports marketing company Infront.
Chiyangwa splashes on Bentley, wants private jet: When Phillip Chiyangwa was asked what his new year's resolution for 2007 was, he quipped: “My resolution is to get stinking rich and blow the minds of my detractors apart. The more money I make, the bigger the distance between me and them.”
According to Match spokesman Peter Csanadi, NIG was "identified and appointed" - without a tender process - by the sub-Saharan African agent, a joint venture between Primedia and Sail.
"The best possible entities are identified for the respective territory and, provided they are available and willing, they may be appointed as sales agents or sub-agents," he said.
Chiyangwa has been targeted by New Zealand's and Australia's sanctions regimes, according to their websites.
Asked on Friday whether Fifa was aware of this, Fifa officials referred queries to Match, which did not respond.
According to The New Zimbabwe, Chiyangwa - who is building tourist accommodation on residential land traded with Harare authorities - recently told journalists his company had overshot its sales target four times in two weeks.
Chingwayo's 25 bedroom mansion in the leafy Borrowdale suburb
Chingwayo's Rolls Royce
Chingwayo Mansions Carport
Csanadi refused to say how many VIP packages had been sold in Zimbabwe, how much they cost or what profit went to Chiyangwa's company.
Asked how NIG was chosen above other Zimbabwean companies, he said: "I do not think it is appropriate to discuss our business decisions in detail."
Chiyangwa was provincial chairman of Zimbabwe's Mashonaland West province.
He was well-known for starting the Affirmative Action Group in the early 1990s which successfully campaigned for the Indigenisation Act, demanding 51 percent local ownership of any foreign investment.
Today Chiyangwa is one of the country's most successful businessmen and was seen this month on BBC Newsnight, where he was paraded by a government official as "a model of a successful businessman in Zimbabwe today".
Showing off his 35-room mansion and a collection of cars including a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley, a Mercedes-Benz and his daughter's sports cars, Chiyangwa told reporter Sue Lloyd-Roberts: "If I want to buy a jet tomorrow, I will do it here. If I want to buy a Rolls-Royce, I have one. If I want to drive a Bentley then I have one. If it's a beautiful mansion house, I bought one. I built it myself."
Last month, the Zimbabwe Mail reported that Chiyangwa would bankroll a bid for the Zimbabwe Football Association presidency by one Lesley Gwindi, through his vice-president hopeful (and Chiyangwa's employee) Nigel Munyati.
But Munyati later denied he was running for the position.
According to investigative reporter Andrew Jennings, who wrote the book Foul: The Secret World of Fifa, the football federation has been involved in several suspect relationships with rulers and their relatives.
Sepp Blatter was in 1999 awarded The Humane Order of African Redemption by then-Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. In 2002, Taylor's son-in-law Edwin Snow, head of Liberia's Football Association, campaigned for Blatter to be re-elected as Fifa president.
Blatter's presidency is meanwhile entering a critical phase as he campaigns for a fourth term, the success of which relies heavily on a successful tournament in 2010.
But while he has touted 2010 as an "African" World Cup, less than 2 percent of tickets have been sold to Africans outside South Africa, prompting calls for ticket sales methods to be urgently re-examined.
“It is manifestly unjust that the ZANU PF elite are still able to send their children to the comfort and safety of schools and colleges in the United Kingdom using illegally acquired wealth while, because of ZANU PF’s policy of selective starvation, children in Zimbabwe are too weak from malnutrition to acquire an education.”
Fifa meanwhile announced last week that a substantial portion of its mid-range category two and three group match tickets (R840 and R540) had been recategorised as cheaper category four tickets (R140) in an effort to fill stadiums.
This came amid admissions by the football federation and the local organising committee that earlier estimates of 450 000 international football tourists were over-optimistic.
The Guardian in London quoted Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke saying 2,1 million of 2,9 million tickets had been sold but many were in the hands of tour operators, not fans.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Times on February 22, 2010
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