Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA have moved a gear up towards staging their annual meeting with one of the key requirements of the indaba, the audited financial statements having been circulated to members ahead of the expected adoption at the crunch meeting.
The statutory audit, will once again pave way for a release of the 2017 tranche of the FIFA financial assistance package that is availed to compliant members, putting paid to some claims by the association’s detractors that ZIFA might not access the expected $750 000 from the world body.
FIFA in a major show of confidence in the manner in which the board led by Philip Chiyangwa have handled ZIFA’s financials, have continued to release the annual grants after the world body in 2016, lifted the suspension they had placed on Zimbabwe for some misdemeanours of the previous management.
That board also includes Chiyangwa’s deputy Omega Sibanda, Philemon Machana, Piraishe Mabhena and Felton Kamambo.
It also emerged that a FIFA team that was dispatched to Harare last year as part of the world body’s pilot project to randomly choose member associations for a check for auditing, had been satisfied with the ZIFA audit.
Zimbabwe and South Africa were the two Southern African associations that were picked by FIFA for the pilot run under the new format of the FIFA Forward programme which came in as a successor to the FIFA Financial Assistance Programme.
Since then FIFA have been carrying out similar audits in which they randomly choose the countries to visit before advising the concerned association to make necessary preparations.
In what has now become a routine exercise, the world soccer governing body have been sending circulars to their members outlining how the checks and balances on the FIFA Forward programme are carried out.
But for ZIFA, what has also excited them is that their finance guru Machana will be able to table their audited accounts when congress which had initially been pencilled to meet on December 16, eventually converge.
Machana yesterday also explained the difference between an audit of the FIFA Forward funds and the mandatory audited financials which ZIFA have to present at every annual meeting.
The Harare businessman said as ZIFA braced for their annual meeting, councillors had already been furnished with the accounts for their perusal ahead of that indaba.
Machana also said there was nothing spectacular about the FIFA circular which was sent to all members with the ZIFA finance man also revealing that the world body has been assisting staff at the secretariat to build their capacities in line with the new accounting trends recommended by the Zurich-based institution.
“We have just finished an audit that is to be presented to the AGM and we are happy that councillors have been given a chance to go through it before debating at the meeting.
“It must be remembered that ZIFA had gone for three years without producing audited accounts prior to our coming in and this led to FIFA suspending the release of the then FAP funds.
“Unlike in the past our AGM will be highly interactive with councillors free to ask questions on the audit as this is a statutory audit which has to be produced with or without any FIFA funds coming into our accounts,’’ Machana said.
Machana also noted that unlike the statutory audit for the annual meeting for which ZIFA appoint the auditors, FIFA reserved the right to appoint their own audit firm which in the case of the FAP funds was international firm KPMG.
“FIFA is there for anyone’s accessibility and the circular which they sent to us just as they did to other members is the second such circular that we received and it came last year.
“In the statutory audit that we submit to FIFA in our financials they always want to see how we have handled our finances whether they came from sponsors or our own resources they always want to see it by virtue of being the global body in charge.
“In terms of the funds they give you for projects whose budgets you would have presented, they send their auditors to check on how the funds would have been used,’’ Machana said.
It is against the background of the satisfaction that the team which FIFA sent last year, that Machana said ZIFA had continued to receive FIFA funding and were expecting another tranche of $750 000 to be released once their budget was approved by congress and sent to Zurich.
“Prior to the circulars there used to be a FAP audit done by KMPG then FIFA indicated at their AGM that they would now randomly select the member associations that would be audited and checking whether their expenditure is in line with the presented budgets and Zimbabwe and South Africa were the first to be randomly selected in our region.
“FIFA have also been capacitating staff from the member associations in Africa and in 2016 I went with Mamutse to Sandton and last year our accountant Mrs Chifamba also went with Mamutse to Ethiopia.
“So when one looks at the circular, it shows there is nothing to hide really because after such random visits FIFA make recommendations on how best certain areas can be strengthened and they also appreciate your strong areas,’’ Machana said.
In the circular, sent by FIFA’s deputy secretary-general responsible for football Zvonimir Boban, it is also clear that the exercise is not a witch hunt targeted at any particular country as some of ZIFA’s detractors may have tried to mislead the nation into believing but a move to merely take stock of how associations have been utilising investment.
“One of the core principles of the FIFA Forward Programme is to match an increase in investment in football development with an increase in the transparency and accountability of how this investment is utilised. In light of this commitment and in line with Article 16 of the Forward Regulations, the FIFA Development Committee, together with the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee, have decided that all member associations, which have benefited from Forward funding will be subject to a central review for the year 2017, and thereafter,” wrote Boban.
“According to Article 16, for each financial year, the FIFA general secretariat shall randomly designate or select 20 percent of the member associations and confederations to undergo a central FIFA programme audit.
“If the funds transferred to a member association under the Forward Programme exceed $2 million, the FIFA general secretariat shall automatically select that member association for a central programme audit.
“The central FIFA programme auditor shall conduct audit-related services on the development funds provided by FIFA on the basis of annual instructions provided by FIFA.
“As part of the central FIFA programme audit, the general secretariat may request the member association or confederation concerned to provide any evidence that it deems necessary in relation to funds provided.
“FIFA will circulate further details on the 2017 central review process, including the reporting forms and other associated templates in due course.
“However, we would kindly ask you in the meantime to take note of the following pertinent information for the 2017 reporting year: The central review will be conducted by an independent and suitably qualified third-party supplier, engaged directly by FIFA. FIFA will bear the full cost of this engagement; this supplier will spend two to three days on site at your member association during the opening months of 2018.
“This visit will be coordinated by the FIFA Member Associations Division in order to ensure advance notice and that the timing of the visit matches your scheduling needs, ” Boban said.