Home » Sports » Zifa Need Govt Support to Service Debts – Langa

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa says Government should take over the ballooning debt at financially-troubled Zifa and free the association from the various creditors who are now targeting their properties.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Langa said Zifa are sinking under a heavy load of debts which is now soaring close to US$7m. Zifa debts have spiralled tenfold in the last five years as the figure was pegged at US$600 000 when the current board led by Cuthbert Dube took office in 2010.

Langa told the Parlimentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport, Arts and Culture that the ministry was concerned with the financial crisis at Zifa as more properties are under threat of being attached

The Minister was responding to a question by former Premier Soccer League chairman Tapiwa Matangaidze, who is now the Member of Parliament for Shurugwi South, who had asked Langa what Government was doing about bankrupt Zifa and whether the Ministry had not taken a hands-off approach to football matters.

Matangaidze suggested that Zifa should be declared insolvent, but Langa argued that Zifa and other national associations needed the Government and stakeholder support to overcome the problems they were facing.

This week, the national game suffered a huge setback when an artificial turf donated by Fifa for development purposes was auctioned together with a tractor and furniture to offset a debt owed to a former employee Nicolette Dhlamini-Moyo.

Their house in Bulawayo was also set to go under the hammer next week following their failure to pay off financial institution CBZ Bank, but Langa said the Sport and Recreation Commission had helped to broker a fresh deal between the bank’s lawyers and Zifa after the association paid some money towards servicing the debt.

The minister said it was now beyond Zifa to service the debts and the only way to save the game and the national football association from sinking is through assumption of its financial obligations to various creditors.

“We are doing our best to engage all the creditors. When we engage the creditors what normally they say to us as a ministry is that can Zifa give us their payment plan.

“This is what they are doing with most of the creditors but my question is will Zifa be able to raise the money according to the payment plan that they would have agreed with the creditors?

“That’s my concern as well. Honestly ,had it not been our support that we are giving to Zifa through SRC, I would want to believe that most of their properties would have been sold by now.

“The only way out that I indicated to this committee is that if Government also can come into these issues by way of assuming this debt then we can save Zifa.

“But as it is, for them to service a debt of US$7 million it is an issue it could be an issue that they could not manage. But I will do my best to ensure that they service the debt, as long as they raise the funds.

“What we would also want to put in place is that whenever they get those grants from Fifa they should ensure that they also prioritise these debts,” said Langa.

“Unfortunately, the debt that Zifa owe its creditors is a lot. I don’t want to say to this committee that it’s a matter that I am trying to take to Cabinet.

“Of course, Cabinet if they agree with me, with your support, that we also assume that debt as Government so that whoever is elected as Zifa (president) will start off on a new slate.

“Even if I become the Zifa board chairman today, with that debt, I don’t think I will do much. But as long as the government assumes that debt I believe that we can see a different Zifa tomorrow,” said Langa.

However, Matangaidze accused the Ministry through the SRC of not doing enough to put Zifa in line.

Matangaidze said it was sad to note that Zifa cannot generate their own income and that they have been accruing huge debts at a rate of US$1 million per year.

The former PSL boss said he wondered whether government financial support including assuming the Zifa debts would solve the association’s problems “if no proper strategies are put in place.

“When Zifa came here (at Parliament) last week, they took us through their financials since 2010 when they took over a debt of US$600 000 which has since gone up to US$6 million now, which translates to just over a million a year.

“Clearly, that scenario shows that with the way they are running they can’t sustain themselves because they are generating more expenses than possible revenue coming in.

“Assuming that debt (by government) will not necessarily reverse their position. We are just giving them a new slate to start accruing new debts,” said Matangaidze.

“We seem to be underplaying these issues.

” Zifa is insolvent and right now all the creditors are going for the fixed assets, they are going for the properties.

“They have got houses and they are going for these houses. By the time we see the Ministry and SRC doing something there won’t be anything to hold on to as far as Zifa is concerned.

“So, it’s not business as usual. Our football is in comatose. That’s why the SRC should instigate discipline against errant sports associations. They (Zifa) are in trouble, they need assistance.

“Is it going to be hands-off approach as it is right now? Or can we see something tangible coming through because by the end of the day they won’t be football to talk about in this country, a few more months from now,” said Matangaidze.

Source : The Herald