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Afcon 2019 funds: Mlotshwa responds

Mlothswa has challenged Sibanda to provide evidence that US$1,5 million was raised for the team ahead of the tournament, saying that only US$206 500 and $2 671 678 in local currency was raised. Some of that money is still being held in the ministry’s CBZ account, he claimed.

By Kevin Mapasure/HENRY MHARA THE Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) board chairman Gerald Mlotshwa has said some of the funds that were raised towards the Warriors’ 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) participation are still being held in a bank account.

This is likely to surprise the players who were at Afcon 2019 as well as observers considering that there was an unrest in camp over allowances and bonuses, which threatened the Warriors participation at the tournament until the Confederation of African Football (Caf) intervened and advanced Zifa some money.

Legislator and former Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda raised a stink over how the money, some of which was donated by President Emerson Mnangagwa, was used.

Sibanda wrote an explosive letter to Sports minister Kirsty Coventry, in which, among other things, he asked why $1,5 million raised by the Afcon 2019 Fundraising Committee remained unaccounted for.

A source close to the issue yesterday exonerated the Fundraising Committee led by then acting Sports minister Kazembe Kazembe, insisting that the money that was raised was paid to the players, with the balance having been surrendered to the SRC and the Sports ministry.

The committee was composed of 18 members, with business tycoon Kuda Tagwireyi and Zifa board member responsible for finances, Philemon Machana, being the vice-chairmen.

One of the committee members said after some of the money was converted to United States dollars, it amounted to US$1,5 million, yet only about US$200 000 was used.

Mlotshwa and Sibanda have been at loggerheads over the SRC’s dissolution of the Zifa board, which led to the suspension of Zimbabwe by Fifa.

Both Mlotshwa and Sibanda concur that of the money raised towards the finals that were played in Egypt, only US$200 000 was deposited into the players’ bank accounts.

But they disagree on the total amount that was raised by the fundraising committee.

Mlothswa has challenged Sibanda to provide evidence that US$1,5 million was raised for the team ahead of the tournament, saying that only US$206 500 and $2 671 678 in local currency was raised. Some of that money is still being held in the ministry’s CBZ account, he claimed.

He, however, did not explain why that money is still being held in the account more than three years later and after another Afcon tournament was played this year, at which the Warriors’ preparations, allowances and bonuses were funded by government.

“I find it incredible that Sibanda could have authored the quoted letter making these allegations. I think Sibanda should firstly, confirm that he authored the letter and secondly, provide evidence to substantiate the allegation that over US$1,5 million was raised for the Warriors’ Afcon 2019 campaign,” he said.

“For the record and for the avoidance of doubt, US$206 500 and $2 671 678 was raised by the Afcon 2019 Fundraising Committee. The balance of those funds remains unutilised and under the control of the SRC parent ministry.”

Mlotshwa said he did not want to get involved in a fight with Sibanda and is focusing on what his organisation wants to achieve with Zifa.

“We don’t want to get ourselves into a side show with Sibanda. He must show proof that such an amount was raised.”

Efforts to get a comment from Sibanda were fruitless yesterday, but a source told NewsDay Sport that the money that was raised in Zimbabwe dollars was taken to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, where it was converted to US dollars since its sole purpose was for the Warriors in Egypt.

In his letter to Coventry, Sibanda pointed out that Zifa only got US$53 000 from government and they accounted for it.

Zifa wrote a letter addressed to the then SRC director-general Prince Mupazviriho, dated August 23, 2019, explaining how they had used the US$53 000 from government.

“The Zimbabwe Football Association received US$53 000 from the government, which was meant for the 2019 Afcon tournament airfares. The amount was received later after the team had left for Egypt. Accordingly, the funds were used to pay the national team’s allowances as per attached schedules,” the letter said.

According to the documents, each player received US $2 500.

Mlothswa, however, said Zifa’s failure to respond to a letter from the SRC, dated July 3, 2019, is what got the board into trouble.

The letter demanded for the association to “detail all the funds received from Fifa and Caf between December 2018 and June 2019.

The SRC demanded to know the source of funding for the aircraft charter that took board members, journalists and supporters to Egypt and how much the association used towards upkeep and allowances.

Mlothswa further claimed that Zifa has until now not responded to that letter, with only captain Knowledge Musona having written back to the SRC.

In his letter, Sibanda implored Coventry to act so that the Felton Kamambo-led Zifa board can be reinstated.

Zimbabwe’s participation in the 2023 Afcon qualifiers remains in doubt after Fifa insisted that only the reinstatement of the board would see Zimbabwe being allowed back into the football family.

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