Home » Sports » A National Game Held Hostage

IN his first two years as zifa president, Cuthbert Dube’s Buymore Investments poured US$419 119.70 into the association in unsecured loans, to — among other things — pay employees’ salaries and board allowances.By the end of 2012, zifa owed Buymore Investments US$648 428.70 and we believe that the loan could have ballooned to somewhere close to US$1 million by the time Dube’s first term of office came to a close last week.

Among the various people paid through the loans were members of his board, the assembly (who are the councillors who vote for the zifa president) , several retired referees who were drafted into committees, players, coaches and their backroom staff.

The situation was so bad that the Five-A-Side League needed Dube’s company to enable them to hold a workshop and, given that the leadership of this league also feature in the assembly of councillors that vote zifa’s leadership, this posed serious questions of conflict of interest.

There is nothing wrong with a leader who chips in to help his organisation here and there. But when it becomes a culture, as we have seen in the 2012 zifa audited financial statements where Dube’s company was loaning money virtually on a daily basis, it brings to fore serious issues of corporate governance or the lack of it.

An organisation like zifa should have systems that make it possible to generate funds and when you have been given the mandate to manage football, in a country where the game is the national sporting discipline, that should not be a very difficult task.

But the association has failed to make itself attractive to corporate partners and potentially huge earnings from the sale of branded replica jerseys of the Warriors have been lost because zifa is simply disorganised.

How zifa have failed to woo sponsors into their corner at a time the Premier Soccer League has sealed partnerships with Delta Beverages, Mbada Diamonds, BancABC and SuperSport raises doubts about the competence of the leadership.

To blame the negativity that continues to stalk the national game, as zifa leaders have done at every turn, is ridiculous when we look at what is happening at the better-organised PSL.

To reduce themselves from being a national association into a basket case that relies on its president to keep it afloat, as seen in the 2012 accounts published in this newspaper yesterday, provides graphic illustration of how much zifa have lost their way.

Given Dube’s incredible financial outlay, which we described as the closest thing an organisation can get to being mortgaged to its leader, those who have been crying foul that the playing field, when it came to the elections for the presidency of the organisation, was not even appear to have credible claims.

The influence of Buymore Investments in zifa over the past four years was immense and the footprints that it left meant that all who tried to challenge Dube for the presidency were doomed from the start.

When you have board members who relied upon loans from their president and councillors who depended on the same loans for allowances, it’s difficult for anyone to argue that the zifa elections were credible in any way.

The tragedy about all this is that the zifa elections showed us that national football is beholden to a men of questionable integrity from the president, through to the board and to the councillors.

That is as bad as it can get for something that calls itself a public organisation.

The challenge we have is which sponsors will want to come and go into bed with such an organisation.

In a country where the flagship sponsor of the top-flight league invests US$100 000 a year, for the winners of the Premiership, it’s ridiculous to find that we have a national football leader who parts company with more than US$260 000, in just one year, to pump into zifa in unsecured loans.

Dube should choose to be either a sponsor or a football leader because, as a sponsor, he can spend as much money as he wants on the game, and no one will ask questions because that is what sponsors are there for.

But when you are a football leader, we expect you to use a lot more than your deep pockets because zifa can’t go on borrowing, especially now that it is very deep in debt, and right now it needs a leader who can help it dissolve its debt not one who can only pile on the debt, with unsecured loans from his company, including US$495 spent on snacks at a board meeting, and in the process holding a national game hostage.

Source : The Herald