By- Zanu PF ministers are suspected to have stolen over US$1 Million fundraised by President Emmerson Mnangagwa towards the National Soccer team players’ welfare in Cairo.
A letter to Sports minister Kirsty Coventry by legislator Omega Sibanda, which has been leaked to NewsDay Sport, shows that at least US$1.2 million of the US$1.5m raised, could not be accounted for.
This comes after the country’s sports regulator, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended the Zifa executive committee led by Felton Kamambo over allegations of misappropriation of public funds and sweeping under the carpet allegations of sexual harassment of female referees.
They are also accused of refusing to account for the funds that the association received for the 2019 Afcon finals. Kamambo, who has had his mandate and that of two others revoked over the issue, refutes the allegations.
The letter was written on April 19, four days before Saturday’s emergency general meeting (EGM) which booted out Kamambo. Sibanda wrote:
The only public funds that remain not acquitted are those fundraised with the help of HE (His Excellency) President Mnangagwa in 2019 for the Egypt Afcon. Over US$1 500 000 was raised from that and only US$216 000 according to the Zifa Afcon acquittal (see annexure M, N, O of the Zifa untold story document for proof of this acquittal even that was given to the SRC at the time by Zifa) was paid by the committee directly to players and not through Zifa accounts.
This is where, in my view, where you should ask the SRC or the (fundraising) committee where the rest of the money, more than US$1.3 million went. It is of public importance that such information be shared because that remains the only outstanding unacquitted public funds channelled to football (by the government) but such was not under Zifa, but a committee established and composed of several ministers.
If the public gets wind of such, it will be damaging to the ministry and not to Zifa. The same Zifa Board acting out of maturity that is now being publicly attacked, chose to keep quiet realising those that make up the committee and how such might have been abused by certain elements for political expediency. To this extent you have never heard them defending themselves that maybe SRC allegations of public funds must be directed to Hon Kazembe’s committee fearing the damage such will bring to senior government officials. Your SRC seems, however, eager to force this board’s hand to divulge such details. The question is who is this SRC serving? Are they really serving the government and HE (His Excellency)’s interests or something else?
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe led the fundraising committee and flew to Egypt where he personally handed the money to players.
Sibanda warned Coventry that:
i). she could have been misled by SRC on the reasons and the procedure when suspending the Zifa board.
ii). if she fails to handle this ZIFA wrangle, she risks tarnishing her image and that of the ruling Zanu PF party.
Last week, Coventry appeared before a Parliamentary Committee on Sports where she gave her blessing to Kamambo’s suspension. She also said the government has been financially supporting Kamambo’s board since he took office.
Sibanda disputes the allegations saying that he saw documentation and audited accounts of Zifa which show that ZIFA under Kamambo only received US$53 000 from the government in 2019 which it fully acquitted at the time and the entire amount was paid to players.
Sibanda said the Zifa EGM that was held at the weekend against Fifa’s advice and the association’s statutes, has no force.