ZIFA says it is committed to settling the crippling debts owed to various creditors, but only after the completion of a forensic audit that the association is carrying out.
BY HENRY MHARA
The association is struggling with a debt burden believed to be over $6 million and has previously been dragged to court. Some of its property was attached over the debt.
The senior national men’s football team was booted out of the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifiers following Zifa’s failure to offset a salary debt owed to former coach Valinhos.
However, the Zifa executive committee led by businessman Phillip Chiyangwa is seemingly making strides towards settling the debt.
They recently secured a $1 million sponsorship deal, part of it currently servicing a $185 000 debt to another former Warriors coach Tom Saintfiet, a debt which was threatening the team’s participation in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Speaking during an appraisal meeting with Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane, Chiyangwa, who hinted that he had secured a $22 million sponsorship, said his board was committed to settle all the debts the association owes to service providers.
“Those that are owed by the association should wait a bit until the figures are properly checked. We are on a campaign to raise funds and we are doing well, so by the time the audit is done, we will be able to settle the debt.
“But I don’t think it’s right for the creditors to come here and try to attach property because we don’t own these things. So anyone who is owed by Zifa must be patient. We know they have been waiting since 2009, but they must wait for a couple of months more until the final audit which will prove what we owe, at which time we will start to negotiate how we will settle,” said Chiyangwa, who refused to shed more light on the latest deal he has clinched. The businessman said the greater part from the $22 million sponsorship, which they expected to sign yesterday, would be channelled towards junior development with the establishment of a world-class academy a top priority.
Chiyangwa said football in the country regressed in the last few years especially under his predecessor Cuthbert Dube, something which he was now trying to change.
“There was a president who was absent and that impacted negatively on the growth of football in the country. We could have improved, but there was no one to do that. When I attended the Cosafa meeting, I discovered that we had not been attending the meeting and we had arrears which I had to settle. Had we been attending those meetings, we could have been far by now. We also have no representation at Caf, which is not good, maybe it’s because of the football politics which is intense. But the more you are there, the more recognition you get and the more support you get as well. We are looking forward to better times because there is now representation, there is now somebody at Zifa called Phillip Chiyangwa.”
Hlongwane applauded the Zifa board for their efforts since being ushered into office in the December 5 election.
“I want to commend the new board for the speed at which they have moved in addressing a lot of issues that had blighted football in the country. I must say you have been very awake to the task. You need to increase your consultation to minimise the margin for error in terms of the application of yourselves and issues. By and large, you have done well in the shortest possible time,” Hlongwane, who further implored the board to apply zero tolerance on corruption, said.