GRAVY TRAIN 222Sikhumbuzo Moyo in BULAWAYO
ZIFA board member Fungai Chihuri signed for $4 000 in board members’ expenses and travel and subsistence claims soon after the 2017 Nations Cup qualifier against Guinea at Rufaro on Sunday, which are not reflected in the income/expenditure statement published by the association.

The latest revelations confirm that the income/expenditure statement, published by ZIFA this week which showed a loss, was tampered with and figures twisted to dupe the nation that the association was left with a deficit after the big game.

Amid all this confusion, it has also emerged that $30 000 was taken from the cash room on Sunday night, with the money meant to pay the players, but $22 000 was given to the Warriors with the other $8 000 unaccounted for.

Interestingly, ZIFA board members decided to pay themselves $4 000 at a time when the Warriors and their coach Callisto Pasuwa were being held hostage by the owners of Daisy Lodge who were protesting against failure by the association to pay them their dues for hosting the senior national team.

The decision by the four board members to pay themselves at a time when many service providers had not been paid was also in contravention of a ZIFA Board resolution passed last year that they should not receive such allowances until the association’s financial position improves.

However, what will trigger alarm is that the money that was collected by the board members, in this gravy train, was not reflected in the tampered income/expenditure statement that was released by ZIFA this week.

This proves that the figures that were released by ZIFA were “cooked” to suit a certain agenda and this has triggered a wave of concern that a lot of money could have been looted by those who were supposed to safeguard it on Sunday.

Chronicle Sport can reveal that Chihuri, who also as the acting board member in charge of the finance committee, signed for $2 800 for “board expenses” while another $1 200 went to cover the board members’ travel and subsistence (per diems) claims.

“The board took that money at Rufaro Stadium, they must just own up and admit. The match reconciliation book clearly shows $2 800 was taken as board expenses and $1 200 written as T and S (Travel and Subsistence). Both these amounts were signed for by Chihuri,” said the sources.

ZIFA communications manager Xolisani Gwesela yesterday said the association was no longer commenting about the Rufaro financials. “We are commenting no further on that subject,” said Gwesela.

The association has been consistent in denying any abuse of funds.

Last night Chihuri’s mobile phone was continuously busy while he did not respond to a text message sent to him.

The issue has attracted the interest of the Government, which said that it will summon the ZIFA Board to explain the furore triggered by the financial reconciliation from the 2017 Nations Cup qualifier against Guinea.

There are fears that even the number of fans who are said to have attended the game might have been less than those who actually paid their way into the stadium.

ZIFA declared the match a loss-making game, declaring a $12 481 loss, from gross gate receipts of $88 542.

“Explanations are definitely needed. ZIFA must certainly account for the money, to the last cent,” said Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Andrew Langa, yesterday.

He said it was disturbing that after football fans used their hard-earned cash to go and rally behind the national team, the money which was raised cannot be properly accounted for.

“We need to brief the nation accordingly, if people come in huge numbers like what happened on Sunday then certainly there is need to fully account for the monies, not what is coming out now.

“My office will definitely summon them (ZIFA) through our channels so that they can fully explain how these gate takings were used. They must be never an element of doubt,” said Langa.

The case has opened a Pandora Box and questions are now being asked as to how ZIFA reconciled funds generated from gate receipts from previous matches under their jurisdiction.

For example, when Zimbabwe hosted Comoros at Rufaro, ZIFA claim in their income/expenditure statement that they paid $500 for the ambulance services from Emras while, the same services hired from the same company, now cost $300 for the Guinea game.

Cashiers were paid, according to ZIFA, $680 for the Comoros game while, for the match against Guinea, the association claims to have paid the cashiers $2 350.

The chief cashiers were paid $240, according to ZIFA, for the Comoros game while, for the Guinea game, the chief cashiers were paid $800.

ZIFA claims that it spent $4 671 in air fares for match officials, for the Comoros game, when they were coming from Swaziland, which meant that each of their tickets cost more than $1 100, which would be outrageous by any standards.

The Competitions Committee was paid $400 for the Comoros game and the figure suddenly balloons to $1 400 for the Guinea game while protocol chewed $80 for the Comoros game and now the figure is $250 for the Guinea game.

Accommodation for match officials, for the Comoros game, according to ZIFA, gobbled $1 305 while, for the Guinea game, the accommodation costs, for the match officials, suddenly soar to $2 291.

Interestingly, the expose has forced ZIFA to concede that they did not pay the $3 000, which they said was paid for bus hire, to Herentals College who revealed that they donated the buses, the drivers and fuel for free.

ZIFA now say they paid a transporter they owed, who was not connected to the game against Guinea, and why that should now be included as a direct expense for the game against the West Africans defies logic.

“When you read the heading of the income/expenditure statement that ZIFA released, it clearly shows that this was specifically for the Zimbabwe/Guinea game and you can’t then bring in debts, accrued from previous transactions, and put them as direct expenses for this game and then use that to declare a loss,” an accountant, who didn’t want to be named, said.

“Everything here should be strictly about issues related to the Zimbabwe/Guinea game and, clearly, when it comes to the bus hire issue, I think ZIFA have been caught offside and are trying to just say something and, unfortunately, the more they speak, the more they expose themselves.”

Yesterday, ZIFA issued a statement disputing that funds were abused.

“The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to inform the football fraternity and the nation that it did not abuse any funds generated from the Zimbabwe vs Guinea Africa Cup of nations qualifier match.

“ZIFA would like to explicitly and categorically state that the income and expenditure report basically explains all expenses paid directly from income generated from the match.

“The ZIFA finance committee has powers to decide on creditors to be paid from match proceeds and such monies are accounted for on the income and expenses report of that particular match.

“The ZIFA finance committee exercised due diligence in preparing the income and expenditure report.

“Herentals is a ZIFA transport partner and provides transport services in exchange of mileage.

“The $3 000 ‘bus hire’ on the income and expenditure report is money that was paid to another creditor who had provided transport services in the past and not Herentals College.

“The association would like to abundantly state that no board members were paid from the income generated from the match and the ZIFA President Dr Cuthbert E Dube has never received any money from the association ever since he entered official football business way back in the 1990s.

“ZIFA appeals to all creditors to remain calm as the association is seized with servicing all debts. ZIFA is grateful to fans and all partners who contributed to the success of the match. ZIFA is humbled by fans who thronged the stadium in their large numbers.

“The Zimbabwe Football Association is a very transparent organisation and takes pride in adhering to corporate governance tenets and will continue publishing income and expenditure reports for all national team matches.”

Of course, ZIFA did not name the transporter they paid $3 000.