By Tafadzwa Goronga
Celebrated Paralympic champion, Elliot Mujaji- 16 years after his boss had a fallout with the government- still hopes Shabanie Mine will, one day, resume operations and have sport return to its former days of glory when it enjoyed sponsorship from the mine.
Shabanie Mine F.C., were relegated from the premier soccer league in 2018, having been promoted from the first division in 2017. Also, the mine’s athletics club, Shabanie Mine Athletics Club, is struggling to survive after the mine stopped operating.
Mujaji, a coach at Shabanie Mine Athletics club, says it has been difficult to keep the club operating due to non-sponsorship. The once thriving club now survives on a few handouts it receives from well-wishers. From time to time, individuals such as Mujaji fund the club from their own pockets to help keep it running.
“Things have not been well for our athletics club. We are struggling for equipment, and that also limits our potential to develop world class athletes,” Mujaji told ZiMining Sport.
Elite Athletics Academy
Mujaji now partners with former Shabanie Mine Athletics Club teammates to form Elite Athletics Academy. At the academy, the sprinter works with Wirimai Juwawo, Kudakwashe Shoko and Jeffrey Masvanhise.
“I now run Elite Academy which specializes in track and field events. Our athletes are drawn mainly from secondary schools such as Mandava and Zvishavane High.
Elite Academy, according to Mujajai, prepares young athletes who show potential to graduate to Shabanie Mine Athlectics Club. Mujaji says the idea is to groom future champions, and they specialize in 100 and 10 000- meters. The academy, just like Shabanie Mine Athlectics Club, has sponsorship problems.
“But our challenge is sponsorship. We are grateful to people like Arnold Sibanda, a rugby player, who gave us a kit. He is a former athlete and has been helpful, but we need more support,” added Mujaji.
Who is Elliot Mujaji?
Mujaji is the most successful Paralympic athlete from Zimbabwe. He competed at the 2004 Summer Paralympics, and won gold in the 100-meters sprint. Mujaji also represented Zimbabwe at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, competing in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints.
Elliot, born and bred in Kadoma’s Eiffel Flats, in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West province, attended Cam and Motor Primary School. He then attended Chemkute High School, also in Kadoma, for his secondary education. The year 1998 changed his life forever- Mujaji was involved in an electrical fault accident while at work. His right arm was amputated , and he remained in a coma for two months. The passion for the athletics, however, remained alive, even after the accident.
The fall of a giant
Shabanie Mine (since the fallout between its owner, Mutumwa Mawere, and the government, in 2004,) has been under judiciary management. At one time, Shabanie Mine was the world’s largest asbestos producing company, with an annual output of over 140, 000 tonnes.
At its peak, the asbestos producing giant employed 5, 0000 workers, with over 10, 000 families from the six constituencies surrounding Shabanie feeding off the mine. Since the closure of Shabanie Mine, former miners and their families now wallow in poverty, and sport is almost dead with no sponsorship to sustain it.
Asbestos is a generic name for fibers with a magnesium silicate base, whose products are used for domestic and industrial purposes in Zimbabwe.