Petros Kausiyo and Eddie Chikamhi—
FORMER ZIFA chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya has come out of her shell and waded into the storm in which FIFA have banned Zimbabwe from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers over the association’s failure to pay outstanding salaries to ex-Warriors coach Valinhos. Rushwaya was the head of secretariat when former ZIFA president Wellington Nyatanga hired the Brazilian in 2008 on a mission to try and steer the Warriors to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola earlier in that year.
Valinhos, however, failed in both missions, with the coach managing just one win and Rushwaya says she has information that can help ZIFA out of the current crisis after the national team was on Thursday kicked out of the World Cup qualifiers over their reluctance to settle a debt to former coach Valinhos.
Rushwaya was responsible for the running of the show during the era when Valinhos was employed to coach the Warriors in 2008.
However, the Brazilian coach was fired with a month remaining on his contract, following a dismal run by the national team in the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers.
Rushwaya, who was later banned by ZIFA from football activities for her alleged role in the Asiagate scandal, said she has documents that could help the association lodge a successful appeal with FIFA.
“Under normal circumstances I would have refused to comment because I was banned from football activities. Anyway, as a patriotic Zimbabwean I think it is not right that the nation suffers because of our personal differences.
“This is a case that I handled and I am very willing to assist ZIFA if engaged. I think I have information that can help them out on this issue. I am one person who doesn’t delete e-mails.
“I know the Valinhos case like the back of my hand. But just like I said from day one that I am available to assist on all issues, including that Kentaro case (over the Zimbabwe, Brazil international friendly match), I am available if the people at ZIFA need my input, I will gladly give them all the information that they need.
“But like I said, I cannot just barge into their offices. I am available if they want me; I feel this is a matter of national interest and we should not allow personal egos or fights to cloud this issue. In any case, I have since moved on with my life and those at ZIFA also need to move on” Rushwaya said.
ZIFA have since 2011 been constantly pleading with FIFA to be granted more time to resolve the contentious issue of the $60 000 compensation being claimed by Valinhos through the world soccer governing body.
However, on Thursday FIFA’s patience with ZIFA ran out and the world body pronounced the sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe.
Although they acknowledged the debt, ZIFA had also been querying the claims by Valinhos, but it is their reluctance to pay which has come back to haunt them.
In querying Valinhos’ demands, the current ZIFA leadership argued that they had been made to understand that the coach had long been paid by the time they assumed office on March 27 2010.
Valinhos was fired by ZIFA in November 2008 after he had failed to guide the Warriors to the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola and the first World Cup in Africa, which was staged in South Africa.
The Brazilian coach, through his attorneys then sought and was granted recourse through FIFA, with the world body in turn writing several letters of demand to ZIFA to settle the matter.
FIFA legal counsel in the Players Status department Rolf Tanner in his letter to ZIFA indicated that they had a letter of acknowledgement from Nyatanga in 2008.
Valinhos, who was on a US$15 000 a month salary, was originally owed US$120 000, which Nyatanga acknowledged in his letter to the coach dated November 28, 2008.
But it is the balance of US$60 000 which the coach, who managed just one win — a 2-0 triumph over Namibia at home in the 2010 World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign — is now demanding from ZIFA.
In querying Valinhos’ demands, ZIFA lawyer Ralph Maganga said the association had been made to believe that Rushwaya had used FIFA financial assistance programme funds to pay the Brazilian.
ZIFA, just like fellow FIFA affiliates, receive an annual grant of US$250 000 under the FAP package.
“The explanation was that she actually used funds that were meant for Women’s Football development under the FAP funds to settle the debt and I remember that the Women’s Football League was not happy about that at all.
“But there was no hand-over, take-over done between Henrietta and Jonathan (Mashingaidze) when she left office and hence there is a lot of information which is not clear.
“There was also no hand-over, take over between the current board and the previous one and this has made things difficult,” Maganga said then.
Rushwaya and Nyatanga represented the association when the Brazilian was given US$15 000 as signing on fees in his performance-related contract.
He was then entitled to US$15 000 as a monthly salary, payable on or before the end of the month.
Valinhos had also been promised US$100 000 as qualifying fee if he had managed to take the Warriors to the 2010 Nations Cup in Angola.
The Brazilian could have also pocketed another US$250 000 as qualifying fees if he had succeeded in guiding the Warriors to a maiden World Cup final.
He, however, failed dismally on both fronts and Nyatanga — in terminating his contract — also indicated that ZIFA would then seek FIFA’s assistance in paying him his dues as the association was “facing financial difficulties”.
But with ZIFA still to settle half the money they acknowledged they owe Valinhos, the coach has through his attorney successfully engaged FIFA’s support on the matter.
Now, Rushwaya has come out in the open and believes she has the key to unravel the Valinhos saga and convince the world body to rescind their decision and reinstate Zimbabwe into the draw for the World Cup qualifiers set for July.