For decades, De Mbare have been the most dominant force in Zimbabwean football with a proud tradition that has not been easily earned. Since its inception in 1963, Dynamos have won the league title more than any other club. During the days of the Rhodesia National Football League, Dynamos won the championship in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1976, and 1978.
They followed this up with successes in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2007.
Dynamos have also won the country’s major knockout tournament, the Castle Cup, which was later known as the Zifa Cup. The team clinched the Zifa Cup on countless occasions. The team also won major tournaments in 1976, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1996, and 2007.
Their players have also won the soccer star of the year award more than any other team with the legendary George Shaya holding the record of five individual titles, three more than his closest rivals Peter Ndlovu, then of Highlanders and Stanley Ndunduma of CAPS United and later Black Rhinos with two each.
Shaya took the title in 1969, 1972, 1975, 1976, and 1977. Other Dynamos winners of the award were Ernest Kamba in 1973, David Mandigora in 1980, Japhet Mparutsa in 1982, Moses Chunga in 1987, Memory Mucherahowa in 1994, Tauya Murehwa in 1995 and Murape Murape in 2007.
Some of Dynamos’ leaders among them, Morrison Sifelani, Godfrey Japajapa, Lesley Gwindi, Wellington Nyatanga, have used the club as a platform to lead the game at national level in the Premier Soccer League and the Zimbabwe Football Association.
Dynamos’ excellence has even extended beyond the country’s borders. The club holds the record of being the only Zimbabwean club to reach the final of any continental title having reached the final of the Caf Champions League in 1998 under the stewardship of George Shaya, Thaban Lloyd Hove and Lesley Gwindi with the late Spencer Njagu doing the groundwork from down under.
Dynamos’ success in Pan African football in 1998 was followed by a Confederation of African Football (Caf) ranking as one of the top six teams in African football just before the draw for the 2010 Caf Champions League.
The club was formed during the days of political tension between the whites and blacks.
During the days of Rhodesia Black people were not allowed to mix with their white counterparts in n sport. So the Black players took part in the then Rhodesia Amateur Football Association while the White footballers played in the then professional league. In 1960, Len Brown, a reporter with the Rhodesia Herald invited a group of black footballers to join the white dominated Salisbury City.
In 1963, there was a dramatic collapse of Salisbury City, leaving the black footballers with nowhere to showcase their skills. ‘The collapse’ said Benard Marriot Lusengo, ‘was political’. ‘It was a way of trying to avoid Black soccer players to participate in the same team with White players because the Black players had shown that they were better footballers.’
Unhappy with the situation, other Black players also broke away from Salisbury United and together with those from Salisbury City they gathered at house number 86 Mbirimi Drive in Mbare for a meeting. The players Josiah Akende, Danny Thomas, Patrick Dzvene, Sydney Karungaire, Alois Meskano, Richard Chiminya, Jairos Banda, Benard Marriot Lusengo, Lameck Mlambo, Obediah Sarupinda, Freddy Mkwesha, Alan Hlatwayo, and Simon Machaya met at Sam Dauya’s house.
They agreed to form an all Black football team and one Nercacio Murambiwa who had heard of a Russian team called Dynamos Kiev suggested that the team be called Dynamos and so started the great team. Ted Bridges of the Tobacco Sales Company gave Sarupinda, who was coach of the side, 50 pounds, a first aid kit, a set of uniforms, and soccer balls to start the team.
Bridges’ company also provided the lorry that ferried the players to matches and also employed some of the players, including Sarupinda, at his company. From these humble beginnings Dynamos rose to become not only the best football team in the country but one of the best in Africa.
The club still honours its founding fathers. Chiminya is chairman of the club’s board of directors. The board of directors is made up of the founding fathers and is the supreme decision making body at the popular Harare club. It is the body that appoints the executive which in turn runs the club on day to day basis.
But as problems characterise the daily existence of the club, it is the same founding fathers that are now being accused of destroying the same house that they built. Players go for months without pay despite the huge crowds that attend the team’s matches. The team does not have a bus or property.
Fighting has become De Mbare’s daily life. Literally everyone associated with Dynamos has become a Warrior. Finger pointing is the order of the day. The club has become the Pakistan of Zimbabwean football with endless fighting and squabbles among the many factions that have come up.
Former defender Henry Chari said the fact that De Mbare had three chairpersons in the past three seasons showed the extent of the confusion at Dynamos. Farai Munetsi is the current chairman. Last year, it was Partson Moyo while George Shaya was the chairman in 2008.
Shaya who was chairman in 1998 when De Mbare reached the final of the Caf Champions League, is now being treated like a dissident in his own home. He has been barred from attending the team’s games for siding with another faction. He now fears for his life after threats for siding with a faction led by former secretary and Chairman Ignatius Pamire.
Chari blamed the Dynamos problems on the failure by the founder members to transform the club into a company. ‘These founding fathers have destroyed the club. They just appoint people at will and this has created problems,’ said Chari.
‘People are just picked from the streets and then asked to lead the club. There should be a system in place in the appointment of the club’s executive,’ added Chari. ‘There should also be a term of office rather than appoint somebody today, then fire him tomorrow. Dynamos is a big club for one to achieve results he needs time in office.’
‘People are just picked from the streets and then asked to lead the club’But Chiminya, the head of the founder members said some the former players without jobs were responsible for the chaos at the club as they were always trying to find comfortable positions within the system. ‘Just look at the number of former players involved in the conflicts and you will see what I am talking about’ he said.’
Former club vice chairman and secretary Stan Kasukuwere said the fact that the board of directors appointed the executive breeds corruption. ‘People can buy their way into the club even if they are not football people,’ said Kasukuwere. ‘That is the reason why there are always problems at Dynamos. The appointments are not done with football in mind.’
Former Dynamos Supporters Association secretary Tendai Makoni said Dynamos should go back to the old days when elections were held to choose the executive.
The club supporter said it was important that Dynamos was turned into a company and listed on the stock exchange. He added that the founder members should be put on pension to enjoy the benefits of forming the team than leading it to destruction. ‘In that way, there won’t be any problems. The shareholders will be there to control the club with qualified executives running the team on day to day basis,’ said Makoni.
Chiminya said they cannot just give away the only thing that belongs to them. ‘A father cannot run away from his house because there are problems. The club belongs to us and we will do everything to ensure that it remains successful.’
The prospects of peace at Dynamos are looking gloom. The club has created too many ‘warlords’ that those who are in positions today are always looking over their shoulders to see who wants to topple them. As long as such a situation continues to exist, Dynamos will remain in their current position.
‘People can buy their way into the club even if they are not football people’