Hani Abou Rida, president of Egypt’s national football association, did a curiously rare thing last weekend following the hosts’ shock Africa Cup of Nations elimination at the hands of South Africa.
Rida, at the helm of the North African country’s number one sport for just three years, handed in his resignation immediately after the early exit of the Pharaohs, one of the pre-tournament favourites.
But before he had left his position, Rida first fired coach Javier Aguirre and the entire technical team in the wake of a hugely disappointing result against a Bafana Bafana side that only came to the party for the first time in the tournament in that Round of 16 tie against the fancied hosts.
Exiting the scene under a dark cloud as he was, Rida, to his credit, felt he still needed to make that one more important decision before vacating office – a decision that impacts the future of Egyptian football even after he is gone.
It is this kind of selfless servant leadership that lack in most parts of our continent. The kind of leadership that, amid the deep disappointment as being experienced by Egyptian football fans right now, give hope for the future because leaders are willing to own up to their mistakes, take the necessary measures to correct things and even after that, still resign.
Lessons to be learnt from all this? Certainly, Zifa president Felton Kamambo should have one or two items to pick particularly with regards to the shambolic handling of the pay dispute with the Zimbabwe team at the Nations Cup, which in all probability took heavy toll on the players during a forgettable campaign by the Warriors in Cairo.
It leaves such a bitter taste in the mouth that these humiliating incidents keep repeating themselves under different Zifa administrations, further shaming a nation that is already a laughing stock of the international community on many fronts.
What is so disturbing and disheartening in the case of Kamambo is that he has assumed office on the back of all-round goodwill generated by a collective rejection of the toxic leadership of Phillip Chiyangwa – an eventful and controversial term whose abrupt end many were happy to see.
Then came what we all hoped to be a refreshingly new era.
As of the alleged fraudulent activities and misappropriation of association funds by Kamambo’s administration, they are of course matters for the relevant authorities to probe. Nonetheless, on the issues that we can observe ourselves and pass judgment as bystanders, Kamambo has not done a hell of a lot to move away from the modus operandi of past Zifa boards.
Maybe he has quickly forgotten the mood surrounding his ascendancy to power, which was all about a new beginning for Zimbabwean football without divisive politics of the past: you are either with me or against me.
The surprise suspension of association vice-president Gift Banda on flimsy charges at the beginning of the year was perhaps the first sign of the intolerance of the new boss at Zifa, the kind of iron-first approach we had got accustomed to under the previous office bearers.
Worse was to come. Never should have been swept under the carpet was the senseless death in March of a national team fan, Egna Nyamadzawo, who was killed in a clear case of negligence by Zifa during crowd disturbances at the National Sports Stadium — a facility fast degenerated into a death trap before our eyes.
Add in the infamous saga of the Warriors at the 2019 Afcon finals, and what you have is an assortment of administrative debacles enough to make men of Hani Abou Rida’s calibre not want to cling on to office any minute longer.