Thom Mpinganjira officially unveiled as president of Wanderers FC 2021 Limited

Thomas Mpinganjira was on Thursday officially unveiled as president of Wanderers Football Club 2021 Limited and he hit the ground running by presiding over the company’s first full Board meeting on Friday.

Mpinganjira with the renaissance taskforce

At a press conference held at his residence in Nyambadwe, Blantyre, Mpinganjira — one of the country’s most successful businessmen — said the football team will be a subsidiary of other money-making business ventures the company is eyeing to pursue.

He said the company is set to rope in multiple sponsors and not just be branded by a particular corporate sponsor as was the case in the past when the team trended as Yamaha Wanderers to MTL to Be Forward.

“We will set up multiple money-making ventures that will shall be sustainable for the players to be proud of being part of the Wanderers family,” he said.

“It will not be easy — it will take some time but with support from the Board, which has very ambitious directors, we will achieve great strides for our beloved team.”

Mpinganjira, who earlier this year financially bailed out the team to pay the players’ salary arrears from his personal pocket, disclosed that he was first reluctant to accept the post but changed his heart when he realised the club was on the verge of disbanding.

Wanderers had been struggling financially after the withdrawal of sponsorship from Japanese second car dealers, Be Forward which made Mpinganjira to come forward and assist paying for the players’ salaries.

“I love Wanderers Football Club; I have been the team’s supporter throughout my life growing up in Kanjedza Township.

“I used to go watch Wanderers’ top matches together with my late wife up until games ended in violence and tear gas. That’s when we thought it was not safe to go watch matches at the stadium.

“But I continued to follow the team because I love it and when I was approached — having appreciated that the Club was on the verge of collapse, I accepted to be part of the renaissance to resuscitate it.

“But I asked that I do not want squabbles in the committee. I asked that I do not want supporters who are violent because Wanderers was known for its good discipline in the past when I used to watch local matches with my late wife.

“I do not want to be associated with violence and neither do sponsors. I am glad that we have a memorandum of agreement with the team’s executive, the supporters committee and the Board for a very disciplined team.

“I also want to see high performance from the team because the success of the team is not just for local but also on the international level.”

He applauded chairperson of the renaissance taskforce, Humphrey Mvula, whom he described as being passionate volunteer for the great work he did to get the registration.

“He travelled throughout the country to get signatures of approval. He did it using his personal resources and it was through his passion that also inspired me to accept this post.”

At one point, the renaissance taskforce wanted to resign following some misunderstandings within the Wanderers family over the commercialization process that also led to the team’s executive chairperson Simon Sikwese to eventually resign.

Mpinganjira paid tribute to Sikwese and others who came up with the decision to commercialize the club by setting up the renaissance taskforce, that eventually regrouped to continue with the registration process.

The taskforce included the executive committee chairperson Chauncy Gondwe and some of his members as well as the supporters committee represented by its chairperson Mervin Nkunika and two of his committee members.

Mvula is former Wanderers chairperson and was joined in the taskforce by another former chairperson Gift Mkandawire and former team manager Limbani Magomero.

The renaissance taskforce managed to secure a sponsorship deal with Salima Sugar Company until the rest of the season before a permanent deal of several years could be decided.

Mvula said they persisted in their efforts to convince the reluctant Mpinganjira to accept being the limited company’s president taking cognizance of his business acumen, which includes founding one of the country’s giant financial service providers, FDH Holdings Plc.

“Real-time investors were reluctant to come in because they didn’t want to be associated with a club run by its supporters,” Mvula said. “They wanted to deal with a limited company run by a properly set up board of directors.

“We persisted in approaching Dr. Mpinganjira because we knew he loves the team when he came forward to pay the players’ salary arrears.

“He was very modest by insisting that we shouldn’t even publicize it as it was a personal donation but we couldn’t resist to acknowledge the good deed.

“Today we are proud that Wanderers Football Club 2021 Limited is finally rolling out with Dr. Mpinganjira as its first president. We don’t take his acceptance for granted.

“Together with his leadership, we want to take Wanderers to restore its glory to greater heights,” Mvula said.

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