Home » Sports » Was Zifa Mortgaged?

ZIMBABWE football appears to have been mortgaged to Cuthbert Dube during a four-year period in which his money was splashed to oil the national game’s operations and pay key personnel ranging from Zifa board members, employees, councillors, consultants to national team players, coaches and backroom staff.

His company, Buymore Investments, cast a huge shadow over the game, providing the financial rescue packages through numerous loans dished to every arm of the sport, it made Zifa undergo an extraordinary transformation in which the association was virtually turned into a branch of that private firm.

The footprints that the funding left, in the structures of the game, meant that it became virtually impossible to expect the same football community to turn its back on the Harare businessman once he decided to seek another term as Zifa president.

There has been an outpouring of outrage, especially among fans, which has greeted Dube’s re-election as Zifa boss, for another four year term, after he outfoxed his rivals in the association’s elections held last weekend, where he beat the challenge of Trevor David Carelse-Juul, Leslie Gwindi and Nigel Munyati.

But The Herald has established that the estimated US$1 million that Dube injected into the game, through loans spread over the past four years, could have created an uneven playing field, when elections came, as it left scores of people, including councillors and board members, feeling they owed the Zifa president a huge favour for what he injected into the game.

While we haven’t been able to get the 2010, 2011 and 2013 Zifa financial statements, a summary of which were presented to councillors at the Zifa Village in Harare last Saturday, a glimpse at the 2012 audited financial statements show how deep the association, and key stakeholders in the game, ended up being sucked into a situation where Dube’s loans turned into the fuel that drove their programmes.

The Zifa secretariat has taken a lot of criticism for the way it handled the election exercise and for fighting in the corner of the incumbent but, when one looks at the 2012 audited accounts, and sees that these men and women had all their salaries met by Dube, then expectations that they would be neutral players were probably far-fetched.

In just 10 months, from January 2012 to October 2012, they received US$69 799, which came from Dube’s Buymore Investments as a loan, into Zifa’s coffers for the payment of their salaries, some of the money being balances owed from the previous year.

In January 2012, Buymore Investments poured US$17 325 from its coffers into Zifa, as loans, for the payment of the salaries of those who work at 53 Livingstone Avenue.

The following month, there was another payment of US$14 200, towards the same salary bill from the same source, and in March US$9 700 was paid for the exercise.

The last payment towards salaries in 2012, from Buymore Investments, according to the schedule at hand, came on August 10, 2012, when there was a one-off payment of US$10 000 to cater for the employees.

But Buymore Investments’ influence in game went further than just providing the loans that serviced the salaries of Jonathan Mashingaidze and his lieutenants at 53 Livingstone Avenue.

The company sponsored the awards in the various provincial leagues and its loans even took care of the cost of the food consumed at a Futsal course in January 2012, with US$1 450 being spent, and given that the Futsal representatives also make up the Zifa Council, which votes in the elections for the presidency, it’s probably easy, given this arrangement, for them to make a choice about who protects their interests better.

On March 15 2012, Buymore Investments also bailed out Zifa with another loan of US$400 that was used to help Masvingo province hold their annual meeting at the Ngundu Rocky Motel.

That money could have gone towards the cost of hiring the motel for the function but on the same day, another US$400 loan was also paid out by Buymore Investments to Zifa and it went to provincial chairman Wellington Muchemwa.

Provincial leaders were under the microscope, in the countdown to the Zifa board elections, after it emerged that a number of them had been handed out assignments as heads of delegation for a number of representative football teams in the past four years with one of them making as many as half-a-dozen trips.

The head of delegation tickets for foreign trips have been used, for a long time, as an incentive by various Zifa leaders to keep councillors, especially provincial and regional leaders, happy and in their corner and, more often than not, many of them have paid back by delivering their vote when it comes to the polls.

It’s not yet clear why Muchemwa, as provincial chairman, needed another US$400, separate from what the association paid the province for their annual meeting, but what is clear is that he was one of the provincial leaders who voted for the Zifa presidency and board at the weekend.

No one knows how Muchemwa voted on Saturday but, against a background where his province’s annual meeting in 2012 was bankrolled by a loan from the company owned by Dube, and he was also paid US$400 on the same day by the association from a loan generated from Dube’s company, it’s very likely that he might have gone with someone who can bail them out as was the case two years ago.

The Zifa board members, who have a significant influence in the game, also relied heavily on loans from their president’s firm for them to hold board meetings and, given the poor state of the association’s funds where it needed to borrow to hold its board indaba, one would have expected them to forego their allowances.

But not only would they blow snacks worth US$495, bought on borrowed funds for just one meeting as was the case on March 19, 2012, they even got refunds for their transport, had their accommodation paid and allowances paid by an organisation that was sinking deeper into debt with each meeting held.

The board meeting on March 30, 2012 blew US$2 370, all of it borrowed by Zifa from Buymore Investments, the next board meeting on May 21, 2012, chewed US$1 650, again with all the money borrowed by the association from the same source while the next board meeting, on July 28, 2012, blew US$3 230, again borrowed by the association from Buymore.

The July meeting indicates, from the accounts, that part of the money borrowed for that board meeting was used for transport refunds and accommodation costs while there was another board meeting, again held using borrowed funds from the same source, on August 4, 2012, which cost US$2 700 with part of the money also going to transport refunds and accommodation.

Former Zifa vice-president, Ndumiso Gumede, also received US$450, in money borrowed by the association from Buymore Investments in 2012 during a visit to the capital to take care of his accommodation, meals and related expenses.

About US$92 000 was paid to the various investigation committees, using money borrowed by Zifa from Buymore Investments, in 2012 alone and a number of prominent people, including former referees, in the game were handed various sums of amounts for their services.

The national teams were also oiled by money loaned to Zifa by Buymore with US$3 000 being used to pay PCJ Motorways for the road trip to Botswana for a friendly international in July 2012, and another US$3 500 being used for their expenses, US$1 800 being used for their coach’s fuel, driver’s allowances and contingency for the trip to Zambia the following month.

The sundry match expenses for the ZimbabweBurundi 2013 Nations Cup qualifier were US$6 000, which was aanced to the association by Buymore, while there were various payments, from the loan, made to former national team coach Rahman Gumbo for his accommodation and transport.

The medical examinations for the Young Warriors cost US$12 000, which was also provided as a loan by Buymore to Zifa, on September 6 2012.

In 2012 alone, Buymore’s loans to Zifa totalled US$230 309 and the money was used for various arms of the national game that the company left its footprints everywhere in a football community that now appears mortgaged to this firm.

Source : The Herald