Sikhumbuzo Moyo in BULAWAYO
ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze is at the centre of a scam in which he borrowed substantial sums of money and sports equipment from clubs, Regions and shops on the pretext that the funds and material were meant for the association and national teams.
The funds were not channelled into the association’s coffers as shown by the audited ZIFA financial statements released by the country’s football governing body, given that they should have either been reflected as income or as part of the debt owed by ZIFA since they were not paid back.
The latest revelations come at a time when ZBC have unearthed gross irregularities, in the budget prepared by the ZIFA Secretariat for the Government to foot the national teams’ commitments, with highly-inflated figures dominating the budget.
According to the budget, ZIFA need a staggering $60 000 to fly the Warriors to the Comoros for a CHAN qualifier, while the budget for the team’s airfares to South Africa for an Olympic Games qualifier has been set at $30 000, which makes the average ticket prize to Johannesburg for every individual on the delegation at more than $1 000.
The budget for the Comoros accommodation in Zimbabwe for this weekend’s CHAN qualifier was set at $35 000, while in each of the international matches, whether at home or away, ZIFA needed the Government to pay an average of $9 430 in administration fees.
The budget for the men’s national teams was a staggering $664 000 and both the ZIFA Finance Committee and the Government slammed these highly-inflated figures, with Washington Mehlomakhulu, the ZIFA Finance Committee vice-chairman, saying they were not part of the exercise to come up with the budget.
Yesterday, Mashingaidze reacted to Mehlomakhulu’s statement, which was carried on ZBC News, by suspending the ZIFA Finance Committee, the latest raft of suspensions at 53 Livingstone Avenue, which started with the suspension of 14 ZIFA councillors on Monday.
Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Thabetha Kanengoni-Malinga said the level of financial dishonesty rampant at ZIFA today had reached alarming levels.
Prophet Walter Magaya, who has been bailing national teams out in recent months, dropped a bombshell on Thursday when he revealed that the more than $50 000 that he gave to the Warriors ahead of their trip to the COSAFA Cup did not get to the players and their coaches as agreed when he donated the money.
“My support is to the boys. The organisation (ZIFA) or whatever is happening is not my concern,” Magaya said as he addressed the Warriors at Rufaro on Thursday where he gave them the funds he promised last week.
“My support is to these guys (the players). Whatever I release, I am releasing it to the players. I want to make that clear.
“I wasn’t happy on the issue of the Rands that I gave (the Warriors). Some of the players did not even get them, including the coach. My support is going towards these boys, this must be very clear. Mr Mashingaidze, my support is not for you, is not for the ZIFA side.
“I am not a political person. My support is on these guys. This is what I am supporting. I’m not supporting your side, my side is on these guys. So, whatever I will support is coming straight to the boys. Is that clear?”
ZIFA will certainly be embarrassed with the stunning revelations that Mashingaidze, who has been a common feature when the Warriors or Mighty Warriors have been getting financial donations, borrowed money from clubs and Regions on the pretext that the funds were needed to service portfolios related to the association.
He also got sports equipment in the name of the national football association from a Bulawayo sports shop, saying that the material was needed by the association.
Known transactions, all yet to be paid, amount to $30 300, but sources said this was just a tip of the iceberg and, interestingly, they don’t appear on the ZIFA creditors’ list, amid fears that the chief executive was not only misrepresenting his organisation, but clearly abusing his office.
In 2012, Mashingaidze borrowed $10 000 from ZIFA Southern Region side Bulawayo Chiefs, itself a shocker given than the association should not borrow from clubs because of fears of possible conflict of interest.
And last year, Mashingaidze approached the ZIFA Northern Region and asked them to pay $5 000, which was provided, and he claimed it was meant to go towards serving the Warriors’ commitments.
In May last year Mashingaidze also approached the Zimbabwe Referees Committee and got $10 000 as a loan, saying that the money was needed for the Warriors’ trip to Tanzania for a Nations Cup qualifier which the national side lost 1-2.
Referees Committee secretary-general Tendai Bwanya confirmed last year that they loaned ZIFA $10 000, but the funds were not reflected in the financial statements that the Committee released to the media and neither are they reflected in the ZIFA accounts.
Mashingaidze also sent his subordinates from the ZIFA Bulawayo office to get soccer balls from a Bulawayo shop worth $5 300.
“I have since instructed my lawyers to take the matter up because seriously I am an emerging businessman and to be owed such an amount literally takes me off the business. The guys from the ZIFA Bulawayo office were constantly nagging me until I agreed because they said they were sent by their boss Mashingaidze and that the balls where for the national association,” said the sports shop owner.
ZIFA Southern Region administrator Augustine Ndlovu, who is said to have gone to collect the material, initially promised to get back to this writer when contacted, but never did and when he was called again his mobile phone had gone off.
A Southern Region Board Member confirmed the $10 000 debt owed to Bulawayo Chiefs and said correspondence from the club was there to prove that.
“Bulawayo Chiefs actually refused to pay their 2013 affiliation fees arguing that ZIFA owed them substantial amounts of money and in the process we were prejudiced of $2 500 as a Region,” said the ZIFA Board Member.
He said they actually ordered the club to get a confirmation letter from Mashingaidze that ZIFA owed them such an amount.
“Correspondence from Mashingaidze confirming the debt is there in the office, but what boggles us is why such a huge figure is not in the national association’s debtors’ list,” said the Board Member.
It is believed that a number of clubs, notably in Bulawayo, have been asked to provide various amounts under the pretext that they were paying to help ZIFA run its operations, but they were never paid back and chose not to raise the issue for fear of being victimised.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Mashingaidze were fruitless yesterday.
Meanwhile, the ZIFA Councillors have postponed the Extraordinary Meeting that was scheduled to be held in the capital today.
“Please, be advised that the EGM which was called for 20 June 2015 has been postponed until further notice,” the Councillors said in a statement.
“We shall keep you updated on any developments concerning the meeting. We value you support, unity and understanding.”