Muzhingi May Get SA Citizenship

The Zimbabwe government has not honoured Muzhingi despite winning one of the biggest races in the world. This is in sharp contrast to Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry who got S$100 000 among other things.

Zvishavane based paralympic Elliot Mujaji went on all expenses holiday to Malaysia five years ago when he won  a gold medal. The trip was sponsored by President Robert Mugabe.

The Zimbabwean long-distance runner made history last year when he became the first African, outside South Africa, to win the 89,2km race in its 84-year history.

Muzhingi defied the odds to retain the championship on May 30 this year and broke the hearts of many South Africans who wanted the 2010 winner to take part in the Fifa 2010 World Cup activities if he was one of their own.

For winning the gruelling ultimate human race on earth, Muzhingi pocketed R250 000.

He won the race in 5 hours 29 minutes, beating more than 23 000 runners to the ribbon.

If a South African had won the race, the purse could have been more than R1 million in addition to advertising contracts.

Still running on a pair of 34-year-old legs, Muzhingi said he could make a better fortune and fame in South Africa than in Zimbabwe.

“Here in Zimbabwe, people do not know me,” he said. “I am more recognised in South Africa and the people there like me. Companies and restaurants fall over each other to promote me but in Zimbabwe I do not have a single sponsor.” he told the State-owned Herald.

“A lot of my specialised training for races is done in South Africa and I need money for travelling, accommodation and facilities while I’m there. I cannot raise that money alone but there are people in South Africa who sacrifice and put money forward. I owe it to them but back home, I struggle on my own,” he said.

Muzhingi said he has not applied for South African citizenship yet but could be reaching a decision within the next few weeks.

“I am a Zimbabwean but I feel alienated at home. It’s foreigners who invest and see the value in me yet local companies appear to shun Zimbabwean athletes. I do some of my training in Zimbabwe and do not have a coach or support.

“But when I go to South Africa, Nike or Asics want to give me shoes while Oakley give me shades.

“Since winning the Comrades, no one from Zimbabwe has shown any interest in supporting me for the future despite winning the Comrades race twice,” he said.

“I can only be able to defend the trophy and win other races if I have the support of corporates in Zimbabwe.”