Zimbabwe: Zifa’s Disclosure to Douse Flames Over COVID-19 Funds’ Distribution

ZIFA are today expected to make a full disclosure of how the Covid-19 relief funds were distributed among its affiliates after the association came under a barrage of criticism for lacking transparency.

The association courted controversy when they unveiled a $110 million football rescue package from the US$1.8 million they received from CAF and FIFA as part of the funds to cushion them from the devastating financial effects of the coronavirus lockdown.

However, the local football community was up in arms from day one over the manner the money was distributed and the figures that did not tally with the total amount that ZIFA are set to receive from CAF and FIFA.

ZIFA president Felton Kamambo yesterday said the association has nothing to hide and will present the full list of beneficiaries and the amounts they got.

“I think what happened last week is that, maybe, people misquoted me because I mentioned that we were going to use more than $100 million towards the distribution of Covid-19 funds but I didn’t give full details of the distribution. I then touched on the highlights which were PSL, women’s football and Covid-19 equipment.

“We also have other constituencies that were not listed, like the regions and provinces, NASH, NAPH, Futsal, Tertiary and Beach football which also got their share. We have a full list of the funds and the beneficiaries and I think it will make everything clear.

“As usual, because of the past perceptions of ZIFA, people probably took that to mean that was the full distribution,” said Kamambo.

ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, said the full list of the Covid-19 distribution will be published today. There have been growing suspicions across the board for the past week with the association accused of lacking transparency. ZIFA also came under fire after they disbursed the funds in local currency.

Some of the stakeholders argued that ZIFA should have distributed the money in the form of the currency that they received it rather than confusing them by changing it to local currency, whose rates keep changing as determined by the movements at the weekly foreign currency auction.

The stakeholders suggested that ZIFA should have encouraged their affiliates to open foreign currency accounts to preserve the value of the money.

A meeting was held at the weekend with the Premier Soccer League, who are their biggest constituency, and ZIFA were forced to review their stance and consider giving the PSL their allocation in hard currency.

“What we are going to do when we distribute these Covid-19 funds, we are going to be very transparent.

“For example, we have made the proposals for distribution as a board but we are now going to move around from one affiliate to the other so that we share notes on the distribution and probably they recommend what they think we should do. This is the same thing we did with the PSL when we invited them (at the weekend) and they gave their input and recommendations.

“After visiting all the other affiliates, we will then sit down as a board, consider the recommendations from all our affiliates and come up with resolutions.

“PSL recommended that they want to be paid in US dollars. We have taken that recommendation but we are not yet making a decision on that because PSL are not the only affiliate that we have.

“We also need to hear the input from other affiliates so that when we get the money we would have taken into account the recommendations from all the concerned affiliates.

“By the way, the money is not here yet. We are going to have a virtual meeting tomorrow (today) of FIFA and all the member associations where we are going to be given the direction on the use of the funds.

“I am sure by the time when we get the funds we would have visited all the affiliates in Zimbabwe. This executive has been transparent in as far as funding is concerned, that’s why we have continued to receive our allocation from FIFA. It’s because we are complying with all that they want,” said Kamambo.

The PSL got the biggest portion from the funds after it was allocated $25 675 000. But from that amount the 18 clubs will share $6.5 million.

This means each club will get approximately US$5 500 directly into their coffers.

The clubs also feel the amount was too little to help with meeting their financial needs in these difficult times when they have to grapple with rentals, salary bills and other operational costs with no football being played.

The Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer League, which exclusively received US$500 000 from FIFA, was handed $32 500 000, which fell just below the total amount when converted using the exchange rate that time.

The other affiliates like referees, NASH, NAPH, Tertiary, Futsal, Beach Soccer and national teams also got their share. The Covid-19 funds distribution has degenerated into a public relations nightmare for ZIFA.

“Transparency is always crucial for good corporate governance. We have seen other member associations doing their disbursements with no such noise as we have witnessed here.

“This issue is creating a public relations disaster for ZIFA. There is no public trust, such issues have arisen time and again at ZIFA and they have to come clean. They must just account for every cent that came in from FIFA and CAF. It’s not that difficult, is it?” said an official. Acting ZIFA vice-president Philemon Machana told reporters at the unveiling of the bailout plan that the disbursements were quoted in local currency for the purposes of reporting since the Zimbabwe dollar is the official currency.

He explained that affiliates will be paid equivalent to their proportions in US dollar terms.

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