As the domestic football crisis throws the shadowy Zifa (Pvt) Ltd into the spotlight

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—

ZIFA Village has come under the spotlight, amid questions of a possible conflict of interest in its construction, after the lid on the shadowy ZIFA (Pvt) Ltd was blown open by the crisis engulfing the country’s football controlling body. The facility in Mount Hampden cost more than $1 million and its construction took more than a decade with ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube accelerating its completion in his first term at the helm of domestic football between 2010 and 2014.

Dube hailed the completion of the ZIFA Village as one of his biggest success stories as he sought a second term as the leader of Zimbabwean football, which he secured in March last year after beating Trevor Carelse-Juul, Leslie Gwindi and Nigel Munyati.

“My Board managed to revive FIFA Goal Projects, which had been stopped by FIFA for many decades because of financial mismanagement by previous ZIFA Boards,” Dube said in his manifesto for the 2014 ZIFA presidential elections.

“We successfully re-engaged FIFA and the Goal Projects Funds are now coming and assisting Zimbabwe. The recent completion of the ZIFA Village, Accommodation Block, the Conference Center and the near completion of the artificial turf are testimony of the assistance ZIFA now gets from FIFA,” said Dube.

“FIFA have just informed us that they will shortly avail us with funds to build a state-of-the-art ZIFA Headquarters which will house Women’s Football, the Premier Soccer League, Zimbabwe Football Trust and a Hotel.

“We have already identified land for this purpose towards the Harare International Airport.”

However, while the completion of the ZIFA Village has been hailed as success story, questions are now being asked about a possible conflict of interest in the construction of this facility, using FIFA funds, as the crisis at the country’s football governing body deepens.

Frank Valdemarca, a long-serving ZIFA treasurer, was the FIFA Goal Project co-ordinator, under whose wing the ZIFA Village was built, but revelations that the veteran football administrator is also one of the directors of ZIFA (Pvt) Ltd has raised eyebrows.

ZIFA (Pvt) Ltd had been used, in the past five years, by the association to shield its immovable properties from being attached until their house in Bulawayo this year was raided by a creditor and could be auctioned.

Questions are now being asked as to how Valdemarca could have the dual role of being the project manager of a property, funded by public funds, which now falls under the portfolio of a private company, where he is also a director.

Valdemarca revealed he was a director of ZIFA (Pvt) Ltd in a letter he wrote to the association’s auditors, Gwatidzo and Company, on February 26, 2010.

“This is to certify that the following Title Deeds, registered in the name of ZIFA (Pvt) Ltd, are held in trust by Gollop and Blank Legal Practitioners, Harare:

1) Stand 1175 of Salisbury Township, Deed of Transfer No. 294/83, 53 Livingstone Avenue, Harare, Purchased in 1982.

2) Stand 13689 of Stand 321 Bulawayo Township, Deed of Transfer No. 317/83, 39a Fife Street, Bulawayo, Purchased in 1983.

3) Stand 100 of Kensington Estate, District of Salisbury, Deed of Transfer No. 8771/88, McLoughlin Road, Kensington, Harare, Purchased in 1988.

4) Arboretum of Mt Hampden, District of Salisbury, Deed of Transfer No. 2882/2000, ZIFA Training Centre, Mt Hampden, Purchased in 1999,” wrote Valdemarca before signing off as a director.

A FIFA-appointed firm, KPMG, noted after an audit in 2003 that there was conflict of interest and duties related to the ZIFA Village given that the project co-ordinator, Valdemarca, was also the man responsible for auditing ZIFA’s books.

“The project co-ordinator is solely responsible for the following functions – selecting the suppliers, sourcing quotations, instructing ZIFA to make payments based on quotations only, paying the suppliers, receiving the materials, approving contracts with service providers such as electricians, builders and plumbers and auditing the books of Zifa,” the auditors noted.

“We recommend that to avoid the possibility of abuse of the system and fraudulent activities, one individual should not sorely perform the above conflicting duties.

“Our review of the ZIFA Village expenditure revealed that more than 70 percent of the payments made in respect of construction and renovation of the Village were based on quotations only.

“There was no evidence that the materials/services that were paid for had been received. Authorising payments using quotations exposes ZIFA to possible misappropriation of funds. There is a possibility that payments were made for materials and services that were not received as there is no invoice or goods received note to acknowledge receipt thereof.

“Normal accounting procedures require that an invoice, delivery note and goods received note should support payment. We recommend introduction of control.”

Valdemarca defended himself by telling FIFA, back then, that he had been compromised by ZIFA.

“There is no doubt that I have been compromised against my better judgment. ZIFA appears to be unable to foresee and forecast the financial problems arising from the present economic situation where there is hyper-inflation and no foreign currency to meet external travel,” he said in a letter to FIFA.

“The inability to make necessary financial adjustments and cut expenditure is evident. I am still prepared to assist ZIFA and serve football but I am not prepared to accept to be party to underhand and dubious methods, which undermine my integrity and moral standing.

“In my view of this unsatisfactory situation and the position I now find myself dragged into, I must advise that I have no option but to dissociate myself from any further financial arrangements involving the Goal Project or any other financial dealings involving ZIFA.”

However, despite issuing these threats, Valdemarca remained the FIFA Goal Projects local co-ordinator and his dual role, as a director of ZIFA (Pvt) Ltd, has now unleashed a host of questions about possible conflict of interest, especially now that the ZIFA immovable properties, including the ZIFA Village, have come under threat from creditors.

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