Mother of all frauds

Sports Reporters—

ZIFA are in the eye of a raging storm amid concerns they sold the nation a dummy by declaring they suffered a significant loss, when they hosted the 2017 Nations Cup qualifier against Guinea, amid revelations their income and expenditure sheet was tampered with to dupe the public. Our sister newspaper, Chronicle, screamed yesterday that the financial statement released by the association was “cooked” to cover up $4 000 that was paid to four board members, as allowances, at a time when the Warriors were being held hostage by the owners of Daisy Lodge, who were demanding their payment for accommodating the team.

Coach Callisto Pasuwa was only released on Monday afternoon, having been detained overnight at the lodge, whose owners demanded that ZIFA pay for services rendered to the senior national team who used the lodge as their camping site last week. That, however, appears just to be the tip of the iceberg in what could turn into a gigantic fraudulent act in which ZIFA declared that they suffered a $12 481 loss when, in fact, the game could have generated either a small profit or the Association might have broken even.

Shockingly, it has emerged that, although ZIFA gave the impression that they had settled debts related to the staging of the match, from the income/expenditure sheet they released, which then justified the loss that they declared, the Association did not pay those debts. What the Association produced was just a ghost balance sheet, divorced from the true financial transactions that happened between Sunday evening and Monday afternoon, amid concerns that some of the funds could have been looted during a chaotic process that wasn’t guided and guarded by the security provided by disbursements done through normal banking channels.

A number of debts, related to Sunday’s game, which ZIFA claimed to have distinguished in their income/expenditure sheet, were not paid and the figures were only thrown onto that list to try and balance the books and give an impression that everything was in order and above board. While the income/expenditure sheet clearly shows that ZIFA distinguished the debt, which the Association said was $12 500, they accrued from flying the foreign-based Warriors home and securing air tickets for the referees, for the game against Guinea, the reality is that the Association did not pay even a cent towards settlement of that debt.

The figure, itself, is already hugely contentious, given that ZIFA spent $11 090 in taking care of the travel costs of the Warriors, and match officials, for the trip to Harare and back to their bases in South Africa, Botswana and Europe.

There are also questions as to the $3 000 which ZIFA claim, on their income/expenditure sheet, was paid to Herentals College, for the use of their buses, by the Warriors and Guinea in the build-up to the game and on Match Day. Chronicle investigations showed that Herentals College, whose owners are passionate football fans who run a franchise in the ZIFA Northern Region Division One League, actually donated their buses for the Association to use, during the course of the week, as part of their contribution to the development of Zimbabwe football.

And ZIFA appeared to confirm exactly that, in the statement they released after the match, to thank those who came to their side to help them stage the big game. “The Premier Soccer league, Joma, Tanganda Private Limited, Herentals College, Daisy Lodge, Prophet Magaya and his partners all contributed generously towards the successful staging of Sunday’s match,” ZIFA spokesman, Xolisani Gwesela, said in a statement released on Monday.

Yesterday, Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association leader, Eddie Chivero, questioned why ZIFA would go on to thank individuals, and companies who helped them stage the game, when — in some cases as shown by their income/expenditure sheet — this appeared to be a straight business transaction.

“If ZIFA say in their balance sheet that they paid $3 000 towards the transport of the Warriors, why then would then they go ahead and issue a statement thanking those who provided the transport, especially given that this appears to be a straight forward business transaction?” Chivero said.

“Simple mathematics will show that the Warriors started using one of those buses on Tuesday and had six days usage of the bus, Guinea arrived on Friday and had three days usage of the bus, and if that cost $3 000, are you telling us that the daily hiring rate for each bus was about $333 per day? “We already know, from the company that provided ZIFA with transport for the visit of South Africa Under-23 for their match against the Young Warriors, that a bus, without fuel, would be hired for about $150 a day and that, with fuel, would cost around $175 a day.

“Why then did ZIFA opt, if indeed they paid the $3 000 they are claiming on their balance sheet, opt for a service that was almost twice what they were offered in the last international, especially given that they knew they didn’t have money for such an exercise? “What we want to know is whether that money was, indeed, paid to those who are said to have provided transport, especially given that we are being told that Herentals College merely donated their buses for the cause of the nation. “But that is just one transaction because we want all the service providers to come forward and tell us that they were paid, as claimed by ZIFA in their balance sheet, because we feel that most of these figures are just designed to hoodwink us and might have been inflated to give an impression that this game was a loss-making exercise.”

Chivero said it was wrong for ZIFA to take income generated from Sunday’s game and use it to pay old debts, which had nothing to do with the match, if indeed they paid those debts, and then try and spin a balance sheet that showed that they had run a loss from the Guinea game.

“The income and expenditure sheet was exclusively for what was generated from the gate receipts on Sunday and what ZIFA spent in preparing and staging the game on Sunday and it doesn’t need to be qualified, as ZIFA are trying to do now, by bringing in issues that had nothing to do with the game on Sunday,” said Chivero.

“Any attempt to do that is a fraudulent exercise but that is what you get when big chunks of money, more than $20 000, are moved in cash from the cash office, in the middle of the night, to pay this and that debt as what happened on Sunday and into the early hours of Monday. “This issue of four ZIFA Board members, paying themselves $1 000 each, has been going on since Monday and, up to now, we haven’t received any explanation, or clarification, from the Association and that is what is feeding into this anger among the fans that some people are not there to serve our game but to just enrich themselves.

“We have a player, who was our best star on the day, Costa Nhamoinesu, paying his own way to play for his country and we don’t even have the courtesy to pay him $1 700 that he used for his air ticket, we pay him $1 200 but on the balance sheet we say he was paid the full amount, and we make him wait forever at the lodge when he needs to fly back to his base.

“What is important, paying Costa his $1 700, which we have failed to do, or paying $3 000 towards buses that we hear were donated for a national cause? When you have all these questions, then, maybe, those who are saying that the $88 542 ZIFA are saying was raised from the gate takings is not a true value of what was generated from the ticket sales. “The balance sheet says $500 worth of $1 tickets were sold, why does it have to be exactly 500 people, not 501 or 499, and did ZIFA guess correctly that exactly 500 children, whom I guess were being asked to pay $1, would come to the match? “Something just doesn’t sound right here.”