By Petros Kausiyo
ZIFA have moved a gear up in their bid to establish the extent to which they were prejudiced of funds during the era of former chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze with the Association this week 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 Barker Tilly 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 Philip 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.
It is against the background of the police request that ZIFA, who are keen to bring closure to the matter, have engaged OM chartered accountants to carry the forensic audit.
The report compiled by Baker Tilly Gwatidzo is, however, set to be tabled by the ZIFA Assembly at their annual meeting.
But as ZIFA press on with trying to find out — with the help of the police — how their financials were being handled by Mashingaidze, the parliamentary portfolio committee on Primary and Secondary Education, Sports and Arts could be flying into a FIFA storm following their decision to summon the Association to a hearing together with some of the people who are under criminal investigation.
ZIFA have also maintained that only an audit could help unearth how the soccer mother body’s debt ballooned to $7 million under Mashingaidze’s watch and questions have been raised on the timing of the portfolio committee hearing on matters that are under police probe.
Amid the questions over the move by the parliamentarians to call the same group of stakeholders, who two years ago, tried a similar move, albeit in vain, to invoke FIFA to suspend the Chiyangwa executive and instead set up what they termed a normalisation committee.
The stakeholders, who included creditors, the Lifelong Footballers Trust and some past administrators and under the leadership of Ndumiso Gumede and Mashingaidze, made the calls at a meeting with then FIFA development officer for Southern Africa Ashford Mamelodi in Harare.
It appears the same stakeholders are now looking to use the platform provided to them by the parliamentary portfolio committee to have another go at the ZIFA board.
Curiously some of the items lined up for discussion at the hearing are the same that have been tabled by the ZIFA Congress for their annual meeting while the decision to invite some former employees who are subject of a criminal investigation adds to the suspicions which the incumbent ZIFA councillors have raised over the motive of the hearing.
But with FIFA Statutes also providing cover to their members against interference by third parties, the Association may have to seek the world body’s advice on the summons for tomorrow’s hearing while Parliament could hit into a FIFA storm.
FIFA in Article 14, which deals with member associations’ obligations lists one of those responsibilities (14, i) as being:
“To manage their affairs independently and ensure that their own affairs are not influenced by any third parties in accordance with Article 19 of these Statutes.”
In Article 19 (i) FIFA are also clear on the independence of member associations and their bodies stating that:
“Each member association shall manage its affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties.”