Former Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze yesterday took his battle against the association’s president Philip Chiyangwa to the police by filing a case of alleged criminal abuse of office against the Harare businessman at Milton Park Police Station in Harare.
But Chiyangwa, who arrived back home yesterday after attending the CAF Congress in Morocco and the high-profile FIFA Executive Football Summit in Oman, dismissed the move as “laughable attempts to try and divert the police from the case which we reported against him for fleecing ZIFA of at least US$700 000”.
Mashingaidze has been on a spirited crusade to try and topple the Chiyangwa leadership after the association decided against extending his term of office as ZIFA chief executive, having initially kept him in the job despite serious reservations from the Councillors.
He has sent a dossier to FIFA, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and even the Sports Commission and yesterday filed a case at Milton Park Police Station, claiming Chiyangwa had criminally abused office.
Interestingly, the ZIFA leadership accuse Mashingaidze of presiding over an association during his days as the chief executive, in which the association’s debt ballooned from about $500 000 to over $7 million in just a few years’ time. Chiyangwa yesterday said Mashingaidze was fighting a losing battle.
“He has been everywhere, from approaching FIFA to other organisations and now he is going to the police to try and launch diversionary tactics when he knows clearly that the same organisation is investigating him after our detailed report related to his activities which we believe were criminal,” said Chiyangwa.
“He doesn’t have a locus standing to report issues related to ZIFA right now because he is not part of our organisation, but we know what he is trying to do, it’s all part of efforts to derail the investigations that have been gathering pace against him. The chickens are coming home to roost for him and he can run, but clearly he can’t hide.”
ZIFA recently announced they had moved a gear up in their bid to establish the extent to which they were prejudiced of funds during the era of Mashingaidze, with the association engaging a firm to conduct a forensic audit.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Commercial Crime Unit, asked ZIFA to furnish them with a forensic report in addition to the audit that was done by Baker Tilly Gwatidzo Chartered Accountants.
The police are probing allegations of financial impropriety by Mashingaidze and finance manager Benjamin Dhewa following a report made by ZIFA against their former secretary-general last year, who is accused of fleecing them of at least $700 000.
Mashingaidze has been disputing claims of criminal abuse of office and despite facing the ZRP probe, he has been on a spirited campaign to discredit the current ZIFA leadership and in particular the association’s president Chiyangwa.
The former ZIFA chief executive was also due to face his former employers before a labour officer in Harare yesterday, but he did not turn up, leading to the matter being deferred.
But, more importantly for ZIFA, is the fact that police are giving their case the prominence it warrants, which could help unlock the puzzle over the alleged missing $700 000 and why the soccer mother body has been saddled by a huge debt.
A senior officer with the ZRP Commercial Crimes Unit, Superintendent Dafana wrote to ZIFA on January 16, asking the association to furnish his department with a forensic audit, which they believe is key to their probe over the allegations levelled against Mashingaidze and Dhewa in case numbers DR53 /12 /17 and CR1281 /12 /17. Dafana’s letter was titled: “Request for forensic audit in respect of State vs Jonathan Mashingaidze and Benjamin Dhewa.
“CID Commercial Crimes Division Northern region DR53 /12 /17 and Harare Central CR1281 /12 /17.
“The above subject is very pertinent. Be advised that following a report you filed on 16 December 2017, a statement was recorded from Pride Bhunu of Baker Tilly Gwatidzo Chartered Accountants, who recommended that there is need for a forensic audit since the one you supplied us is a statutory financial report.
“We are requesting a forensic audit report to enhance investigations. Meanwhile, your case will be filed pending receipt of the forensic audit report,” wrote Dafana.