Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
SPORT, Arts and Recreation Minister Kazembe Kazembe has summoned ZIFA and the Sports Commission to a meeting at his offices today to iron out their differences after the two parties were involved in a high-profile clash over the weekend.
ZIFA are set to be represented by their three leading figures — president Philip Chiyangwa, vice-president Omega Sibanda and board member finance Philemon Machana — while the SRC will have their chairman Edward Siwela and acting director general Joseph Muchechetere.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of a weekend in which ZIFA reacted furiously to threats by the SRC that the supreme regulatory sports body could intervene in the Association’s affairs because of differences over the election roadmap for the association.
“The Minister has called a meeting and the two parties have been asked to attend without fail,’’ sources told The Herald last night.
“The Minister is concerned with the fallout between the two parties and the negativity this has generated, especially in the media, given he is someone who is interested in seeing sport projecting a positive image rather than all this negativity.’’
Today’s meeting also comes against a background of revelations by ZIFA that they have covered substantial ground in dealing with the crippling debt pegged at around $7 million which left the association declared insolvent two years ago.
The association have also put in a raft of measures that include the possibility of securing FIFA finding to help pay off some genuine creditors and restore credibility with some stakeholders.
Despite the Sports Commission having acknowledged that business had ground to a halt at ZIFA, the supreme sports body stand accused of concealing a damning report from their Commission of Inquiry, which chronicled the maladministration and the rot that had seen the association’s debt dramatically rise to $7 million in a short space of time.
Chiyangwa made the revelations on the progress they have made in expunging the debt, albeit, in a hard-hitting letter he sent to Muchechetere.
“There is also advanced preparatory work to invoke FIFA forward payment funds in order to retire the entire debt once the creditors bill is certified by an audit firm,’’ Chiyangwa said.
Chiyangwa, irked by the Commission’s bid to interfere with the ZIFA electoral processes also questioned their intervention only when it is about the polls while the same body mandated to supervise national associations, had turned a blind eye and kept a tight lid on the allegations of financial impropriety taking place at the ZIFA headquarters at 53 Livingstone Avenue in Harare.
The SRC set up a Commission of Inquiry led by Obadiah Moyo, which produced a damning report on the situation at ZIFA in September 2015, and declared the association technically insolvent.
What has baffled Chiyangwa and his executive, however, is that despite being handed the report, the Commission had not acted on the findings and recommendations.
Chiyangwa is also not amused that his executive has not received any help from the Sports Commission since coming into office on December 5, 2015.
“No assistance of any nature whatsoever was given to resuscitate the ailing association from the siege of creditors and executions. That notwithstanding, the current ZIFA executive committee has against all odds achieved a phenomenal turnaround in just two years.
“Within the short period the executive committee has brought normalcy into ZIFA operations (through a host of critical positive interventions which included staff rationalisation, strengthening of governance procedures, fair reporting, accountability, transparency as well as full disclosure in accordance with the best practice),’’ Chiyangwa said.
The Harare tycoon said his administration had managed to fend the negative impact which the creditors had on football activities in the country and crucially, “restored relations with key stakeholders, FIFA included.
“The Philip Chiyangwa-administration presented annual audited accounts and budgets, brought constitutionalism in the running of ZIFA, managed to participate in most competitions and development programmes including youth and women football.
“In the same short period, arrangements were successfully made to pay the long overdue bets owed to banks.
“This involved the engagement of Government (without any help from Messrs Edward Siwela and Joseph Muchechetere).
“The entire bank exposures have been retired while the rest of the smaller creditors are subject to an on-going verification process before a scheme of arrangement shall be set in motion to settle the entire creditors book’’.
ZIFA have since instituted a forensic audit which should help establish the extent to which they were prejudiced of financial resources and other moveable assets.
“I affirmatively vouch that the financial crisis of ZIFA stands resolved by 80 percent and the remaining work shall be completed within the term of the ZIFA president.
“Equally I must mention the significant achievement of my team in being able to successfully recover all immoveable properties belonging to ZIFA affiliates which had been executed by creditors.
“All title deeds are now in the safe custody of the ZIFA lawyers. While the ZIFA executive is fully fused on achieving the turnaround Messrs Siwela and Muchechetere have surrounded themselves to besmirch ZIFA,’’ Chiyangwa said.