Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA have branded former chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze a tainted debtor and fraudster who bled the soccer mother body to its knees with the association further pressing for litigation against him for allegedly siphoning the institution of $700 000.
Mashingaidze, who was relieved of his duties by the association when his contract with ZIFA expired last year, has launched a spirited campaign to discredit the same leadership he served under and appears to be questioning the elections that were endorsed by FIFA two years ago.
But documents of a detailed ZIFA report against their former employee which have been lodged with the High Court are anything to go by, then a showdown is looming between the association and their former employee as the association is accusing Mashingaidze of a litany of crimes that include inflating figures he claimed were owed to creditors.
Mashingaidze presided over the worst period in ZIFA’s history as visits from the Messenger of Court became the order of the day at the association’s headquarters at 53 Livingstone where he worked were often left without anywhere to sit nor computers to use.
In that forgettable era, ZIFA failed to service a $60 000 debt to Brazilian coach Valinhos which resulted in Zimbabwe being expelled from the 2018 World Cup by FIFA.
The world soccer governing body were also on the verge of suspending the Warriors from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with incumbent president Philip Chiyangwa given just days after his election to run around and avert the ban.
Mashingaidze on his part has been fighting ZIFA claiming that at the time his contract ended, he was owed $80 000 in salary arrears.
A number of ZIFA former employees he presided over also claim that they are owed funds.
However, the association has described Mashingaidze’s accusations as “absolute hogwash from a fraudulent and tainted debtor who should be held accountable for fraudulent activities during his tenure and for his role in dragging the game into the abyss’’.
In their documents which have also been copied to the Sport and Recreation Commission, ZIFA charge that Mashingaidze has decided to fight the leadership through smear campaigns after they had demanded that he pays back the missing money.
As part of his plot against the administration Mashingaidze last week wrote to the ZIFA Congress charging “tragedy that has befallen our game as a result of corruption, mismanagement, incompetency, selfishness, patronage and downright greed.”
But ZIFA have brushed him aside convinced he only made the allegations because of the impending litigation against him.
In their papers against their former employee, which include a 2015 Sports Commission probe ZIFA, the soccer mother body dismissed Mashingaidze as incompetent and unqualified to even criticise the current leadership since he was the source of all the problems that befell Zimbabwean football during the period he was chief executive.
Mashingaidze was the chief executive between 2004 and 2016 with Henrietta Rushwaya also making a brief stint in-between.
The report by the SRC committee of inquiry into the state and administration of football in Zimbabwe chaired by Obadiah Moyo in September 2015, a few months before Chiyangwa was ushered into office, declared ZIFA insolvent.
The association’s books were deep in the red after it had accumulated debts in excess of $6m which the current executive has blamed on fraudulent deals by Mashingaidze in collusion with some of the creditors as there was no paper trail to support the claims.
The committee also stated in their findings that ZIFA’s accounting staff lacked competence.
“Technically, ZIFA is insolvent with debts amounting to almost $6 million. For the past two years ZIFA has been engaged in running battles with the Messenger of Court who on occasions attached the Association’s properties including that of ZIFA president (Cuthbert Dube).
“ZIFA’S creditors list has ballooned from $600 000 in 2010 to $6m in 2015 with no clear explanations . . . ZIFA’s accounts for 2011 which were audited by Baker, Tilly and Gwatidzo revealed that $700 000 could not be accounted for and to date the ZIFA CEO has failed to provide supporting documentation for the queried transactions,” read part of the report.
ZIFA indicated they will press ahead via the legal options available to them in their efforts to recover the misappropriated $700 000.
Sources close to the saga indicated that ZIFA had initially sought to be lenient with Mashingaidze when they decided against renewing his contract before they pressed ahead with a bid to recover the money before they could entertain his claims of unpaid salaries.
The issue is still before the courts of law. In their defence papers, ZIFA said Mashingaidze should pay back.
“Claimant (Mashingaidze) is not owed any outstanding salaries for the period between August 2014 and April 2016 in the amount claimed for the reason that in terms of the SRC Report of 2015, a finding was made that he presided over ZIFA’s financial systems between 2011 and 2015 when funds in the sum of $700 000 could not be accounted for.
“Moreover between the period of July 2015 and December 20115 Claimant exercised a dual role as (ZIFA) board and chief executive officer. (ZIFA’s) funds were at his disposal and it is during the same period that the SRC in its report made a finding that US$700 000 could not be accounted for.
“It is hypocrisy characterised by malice for (Mashingaidze) to allege that he is owed outstanding salaries (by ZIFA) and demand payment thereon in circumstances where he presided over the financial demise (of the association),” read the court papers.
However, Mashingaidze was adamant he was framed and will not rest until he got his dues.
“The Executive Committee, through their President, committed to pay me my dues, in a letter written in April 2016, when my contract was not renewed.
“I have written many letters to the ZIFA Executive Committee asking for settlement of my dues and I am yet to get a simple acknowledgement letter.
“As if that were not enough, the Executive Committee, in a bid to silence me, came up with crazy, if not stupid, allegations that I stole $700 000.00 from ZIFA during my tenure as Secretary General,” said Mashingaidze.
He also accused the Chiyangwa-led executive of running down the game during the two years that they have been at the helm.
Mashingaidze last week wrote to the Congress urging the members to shun the Annual General Meeting set for this week as unconstitutional.
“You have watched, either in blissful ignorance or shameless, complicity, Zimbabwean football being reduced to some village dug out by football administration midgets upstarts and opportunists.
“Your last two years in office end on 31st March 2018 and beyond that, Zimbabweans shall remember some of you as the men and women who could not see, hear or speak evil of the madness that has dragged our football into a dark abyss.
“You have allowed self-serving individuals to mortgage the future of Zimbabwean football by not playing your statutory role, of giving strategic guidance to our game.
“In the absence of the ZIFA congress’s stewardship, the ZIFA Executive Committee got off the hook and went on a flagrant violation of the ZIFA constitution and corporate governance principles with reckless abandon leaving our game in this current mess,’’ wrote Mashingaidze.
The letter was copied to FIFA, who ironically endorsed the ZIFA elections through their representative and former development officer for Southern Africa Ashford Mamelodi.
ZIFA, sources said yesterday strongly suspect that “Mashingaidze is fronting a cabal that is trying to destabilise ZIFA ahead of their annual meeting on Saturday.
“ZIFA have never failed to hold an annual meeting and there have been no huge debts accrued in the last two years yet in just five years under Mashingaidze’s watch, the ZIFA debt rose from $600 000 to $6 million largely because of fraudulent activities’’.