Crucial Zifa indaba off

HARARE - As predicted by the Daily News, the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) which was scheduled for today has now been officially cancelled.

The EGM had been called by some Zifa councillors who had hoped to settle the issue regarding the 2011 Zifa audit report that alluded to some funds that were not properly accounted for during Cuthbert Dube’s reign.

Some councillors were also hoping to use the meeting to endorse Philip Chiyangwa’s candidature for the impending elections.

However, the gathering had generated controversy in local football circles since Zifa had circulated a similar agenda to that of next month’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).

While the agenda for the EGM, should have featured only two main items to do with the 2011 financial report and the endorsement of Chiyangwa, some councillors were now querying why items they were supposed to discuss at the AGM were now also brought forward.

After getting wind of some of the councillors’ reservations towards today’s proposed gathering, Chiyangwa conveniently excused himself from all issues to do with local football by taking a “sabbatical”.

The Zifa boss will be away until March 31 attending to “international commitments” according to a statement sent out by the association earlier this week.

“Zifa would like to inform all football stakeholders that the president...Chiyangwa, will be exclusively attending to his international portfolios from January 8, 2018 to March 31 2018,” reads the statement by Zifa.

“During this period, he will entirely focus on international football programmes, where he will attend the Cosafa Annual General Meeting (AGM), the Caf Ordinary General Assembly, and the Fifa Executive Football Summit.

“Consequently, all scheduled meetings with the president within the period in concern have been shelved indefinitely.

“During Chiyangwa’s absence, Omega Sibanda will be the acting president and he will superintend all Zifa issues with the assistance of fellow executive committee members.”

But on Thursday and yesterday, the Zifa secretariat sent messages to the councillors notifying them that today’s meeting had been called off.

Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela was not answering his mobile phone by the time of going to press last night.

Local football is currently at a crossroads at the moment due to the delay by the Zifa executive committee to hold elections.

A number of councillors from the Area Zones and other affiliates are now in a constitutional dilemma after their terms of office expired.

According to the Zifa statutes, elections are supposed to start at the lower level of the Area Zones building up until they reach the executive committee level.

Another burning issue that has also divided local football is the 2016 audited Zifa financial report which was availed to the councillors during the aborted AGM held last month.

Auditors from Baker Tilly Gwatidzo Chartered Accountants revealed that Chiyangwa’s company Kilima Investments (Private) Limited currently charges Zifa $6 000 as a monthly rental fee in the financial report.

The Chiyangwa-led executive committee decamped the association’s offices away from the Zifa headquarters at 53 Livingston Avenue in the Harare Central Business District and relocated to Highlands.

However, the move is now costing Zifa a significant amount of money yearly with Chiyangwa pocketing the rentals through his company Kilima Investments.

The lease agreement between Zifa and Kilima also stipulates that the rental fees which must be paid in advance at the start of every year will be increased biannually.

The jump in the rental fees will also likely to raise eyebrows among the Zifa councillors that are set to vote for a new executive at next month’s elections.

When Zifa moved into Chiyangwa’s Highlands property in June 2016, the rental fees was pegged at $2 500 per month but at the start of 2017 there was a significant increase to $6 000 per month.

Chiyangwa will stand to gain $90 000 per year between 2019 and 2020 when the rental fees go up from $6 000 to $7 500 per month for Zifa to occupy his Highlands property.

In total, the Harare businessman, who has an interest in property development, will make $420 000 by the time the lease agreement between Zifa and Kilima expires in September 2021.

However, Zifa board member (finance) Philimon Machana denied that the association was paying such astronomical sums to the Harare businessman.

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