ZIFA’S winter madness

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—

ZIFA will operate without a budget approved by their Assembly until the middle of the year — in yet another graphic illustration of how the troubled association have dumped the ethics of corporate governance into the dustbin — after the Annual General Meeting set for this Saturday was postponed once again. The annual meeting, where the Assembly approve the yearly budget for the association, is supposed to be held at the end of March every year, but the ZIFA Board have divorced themselves from their electorate in recent weeks because of fear among some of the game’s leaders that they could be sanctioned by the people who voted them into power.

The annual meeting is now scheduled for June 27, which means that ZIFA will effectively be running on a 2015 budget that doesn’t have the approval of the Assembly this year until the middle of the year, exposing the lack of corporate governance that has turned this beleaguered association into a Stone Age relic.

Zimbabwe’s expulsion from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, and the shock it induced among ZIFA councillors, including some who have been calling for sanctions on the board members for the shambolic way they handled the issue, has developed a wedge between the two bodies and torched friction.

With the Valinhos case, which triggered the Warriors’ expulsion from the World Cup qualifiers, still to be resolved, there has been concern within the much-maligned ZIFA Secretariat that a meeting between their Board and Councillors right now could spark unrest and lead to sanctions being imposed on those leading domestic football.

The ZIFA Secretariat had pushed the Annual General Meeting to this Saturday, gambling on the possibility they would have resolved the Valinhos case by then, and leaving the rebellious Councillors without the weapon they wanted to use in their criticism of the pathetic way the Board, and its Secretariat, have been running the country’s football affairs.

Under-fire ZIFA chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, has become the troubleshooter in the whole mess, drawing up a number of excuses just to try and keep the Councillors and the Board apart, something he realised was the best way to deal with a rebellious constituency, especially when he cancelled a Board meeting, where he was set to be sacked, at the last minute last month.

Recently, Mashingaidze turned down a request from ZIFA Councillors for them to hold an extra-ordinary meeting to discuss the poor state of the game, against the background of the Warriors’ expulsion from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, arguing that it would not make sense for the Assembly to hold two meetings inside 60 days.

The ZIFA chief executive had got wind that some of the Councillors were so angry, with the way the Board and the Secretariat had handled the Valinhos issue, they were considering sanctions on the two hands of the Association.

Mashingaidze argued that the concerns raised by the Councillors would be discussed at the Annual Meeting, which had been scheduled for this Saturday, under the ZIFA President, Cuthbert Dube’s Activity Report, which some of the Assembly Members felt was unconstitutional since their power to call for such an indaba, as long as they can master enough numbers, was provided for by the Constitution.

Now, Saturday’s meeting has again been postponed, for another two months, which means that the issues raised by the Councillors in March, which called for an Extra-ordinary Assembly Meeting, will now only be addressed three months later — that, is, if that indaba gets underway at all.

The agenda for the meeting was originally sent on February 25, which means the meeting will now be held four months after the circulation of the agenda items, that is, if it gets underway in June as now scheduled.

In postponing Saturday’s indaba, Mashingaidze said ZIFA were inundated, right now, by pressing issues, including the resolution of Valinhos’ case, with the association paying about $81 000 to the Brazilian coach for the case to be resolved and, possibly, for the Warriors to be reinstated in the2018 World Cup qualifiers.

But how the ZIFA Board and Secretariat will go-ahead and address financial matters, like the payment of funds towards the resolution of the Valinhos case, without the budget being approved — as should be the case in such instances — by the Council, shows just how much this organisation has lost its respect for corporate governance.

Most of the cases, which Mashingaidze said had gripped the attention of the Board and Secretariat, involve expenditure of considerable sums of money and one would have expected that the Assembly was needed to approve such expenditure but the ZIFA chief executive believes they will only meet in June to rubber-stamp whatever is being done right now.

“The Zimbabwe Football Association hereby informs all members of the ZIFA Assembly that the Annual Meeting set for the 25th April 2015 has been postponed to the 27th of June 2015,” Mashingaidze wrote to the Assembly members on Monday.

“”The postponement has been caused by the financial constraints currently obtaining as well as the pressing national commitments. The Association has the following obligations to service:

1- Settlement in full of former National Team Coach, Mr Jose Georgini ‘Valinhos’ debt the mid-May 2015. Mr Valinhos is owed Eighty One Thousand Dollars ($81 000).

2- Servicing of former National Team Coach Mr Tom Saintfiet’s debt beginning end of April 2015. ZIFA owes the (former) National Team Coach One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($150 000).

3- Servicing Olympic qualifier matches for the men’s and women’s teams as from the 26th of April 2015. The Men’s Team has been fixture with Swaziland, South Africa and Senegal (note — the Young Warriors won’t play Senegal in their group) between April and August 2015. The Women’s Team will face Zambia in May 2015. Thereafter, the team plays Tunisia and Egypt between end of May 2015 and October 2015.

4- Servicing the COSAFA Tournament for men which will run from the 17th to 30th May in South Africa.

5- Servicing the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier matches against Malawi and Guinea between June and October 2015.

6- Servicing the 2016 CHAN fixtures which begin on 21 June 2015 against the Comoros at home.

7- Participation of the Senior Men’s Team in the 2015 All-Africa Games (Africa Games) tournament to be staged in Congo Brazzaville in September 2015.

8- Payment of Audit Fees. The auditors are still auditing the books of the Association and the Audited Accounts will; be tabled at the Annual General Meeting in June 2015. The Accounts will be circulated in early June 2015, ahead of the Annual General Meeting.

“The Agenda items of the Annual General Meeting shall remain as previously communicated to the Assembly Notice of 25 February 2015.”

The agenda of that meeting, interestingly, is dominated by the approval of the 2015 Budget for the Association.

“To receive, consider, adopt or otherwise deal with the President’s Activity Report, to present the consolidated and revised balance sheet and the profit and loss statement, to approve the financial statements, to approve the 2015 Budget,” reads the circular for the agenda.

Of course, the agenda would not be complete without the item, “to suspend or expel members,” which again confirms that this is an organisation that has gone into a war mode with ZIFA vice-president, Omega Sibanda, women football boss, Miriam Sibanda, and board member, Ben Gwarada, always set for the axe.