The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: No More Excuses for Gen. Kazura

column

Kigali — The first four years of Brigadier General Jean Bosco Kazura leadership as head of the national football federation, Ferwafa have been a mixture of everything to do with good and bad.

And the excuse for, especially the bad, has been, "we're still settling in (office) and we're bound to make mistakes."

But now that the General has retained his seat unopposed, which shows a vote of confidence by the electorates who are the clubs, we hope the time for more actions than words has come.

There shouldn't be time for more excuses in the next four years. 2010-2013 will be the real litmus test for Kazura's legacy as head of Rwanda's football.

Apart from Vedaste Kayiranga's defeat to Raoul Gisanura for the vice presidency, there was no other noticeable change in the old team. Gisanura has for long been groomed for big things and his victory over a less likable Kayiranga isn't such a big surprise, but it makes news now that Kayiranga has been openly and officially shown that he has been the odd-man out.

Has he been a good riddance? Yes, especially now that there a second-in-charge, who can probably be trusted with serious federation issues, unlike his predecessor, who has spent the last four years doing almost nothing.

A vice president, who was not permitted to comment in the media about important federation issues, and if he did it, he had to be ready to give explanations!

With Kayiranga out of the system, the real test for Kazura and his now experienced team starts now. Let actions speak louder than words, stop singing youth football without supplementing it with actions.

Less famous

A less familiar name in local football circles four years ago, Brig. Gen. Kazura was overwhelmingly voted to replace his army comrade Maj. Gen. Ceaser Kayizari with a 100 percent of the valid vote.

And four years later, he retains his job with a similar vote figure but only this time that no one was challenging him.

The other change after those four years is that Kazura is now one of the very familiar figures not only in Rwanda and the regional but also beyond yet the status-quo of football in the country remains pretty much the same from when he took over.

During Kazura's first term, Rwanda hosted the Africa U-20 Youth Championship 2009, which ranks up as his best achievement so far and the manner in which it was organized was surprisingly very professional and as a reward, Rwanda will host the 2011 Africa U-17 Youth Championship.

Women football has gained some momentum unfortunately not very many Rwandan know much about it, so Kazura's team still a lot to do in that respect and also find ways of making the league more competitive and wide reaching.

But as a critic, don't tell me his achievements since he replaced Kayizari because he is supposed to achieve not to fail, that's why I'd prefer to look at his failures, which unfortunately include the national team's disappointment of not qualifying for three Nations Cup finals in 2006 (Egypt), 2008 (Ghana) and 2010 (Angola).

What about the continued reliance on believing in hiring mercenaries (moreover against the wish of the majority of Rwandans) to represent a country they know very little or if anything nothing about?

The national team, which is the epitome the country's football, has struggled for success in the regional and on the continent. During Kazura's reign, Rwanda has reached two Cecafa senior challenge cup finals in 2007 and 2009 but that's the end of the story.

Since taking over, Kazura and his team have been singing the need for youth football as the only way to develop the beautiful game in the country but with less success. The national football academy only started operation last year, almost three years after being launched.

In four years, the national team has gone through four permanent and two interim coaches. He sacked Roger Palmegren, who was employed by his predecessor and replaced him Michael Nees, who was sacked after one year.

Josip Kuze came and left after less than year, he was replaced by Raoul Shungu (temporarily) before Branko Tucak was signed, he lasted one year and now Eric Nshimiyimana is acting.

Predictable

Unlike in 2006, Saturday's election was very predictable, which raises fear that the winners; including the General himself could become so complacent, especially knowing that their positions are very safe since no one is daring enough to challenge him.

In his remarks after being 'approved' rather than voted, Kazura continued with his usual song of youth development with the same relics of it being on top of his priority list.

But Kazura starts his second term, someone should advise him that he will never achieve his goals unless he's willing to change his attitude towards the press, especially some individuals he thinks are his enemies because they're brave enough to challenge him when things are not going well.

Nonetheless, whether he changes or not, the next four years are going to be massive for him and his team as Rwandans will be demanding more from him than they did during the last term now that he's gained the experience he's been asking for, and if he fails, I don't think Gen. Kazura will have many excuses to support his case.

And I hope making him a good riddance then won't be a very bad option. Would it?

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