Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA board member for finance, Philemon Machana, has defended the national association for moving Fifa grant money from the domestic football governing body’s nostro account to a private company that he holds a stake in.
On January 25, 2019, Zifa moved at least US$740 000 from its nostro account to a Machana-linked company called Conduit Investments, but he defended the move, saying the funds were moved to “protect” Fifa funds, after learning that some creditors wanted to garnish the association’s account.
Machana accused faceless individuals of raising dust over the issue, saying their main intention is to destabilise the Warriors’ preparations for the Afcon finals.
“All this talk is structured to cause harmony in a stable ship. We’ve been working well with the government, the Sports and Recreation Commission, the custodians of football, who are councillors, in our endeavour to give the association a facelift.
“That the accusations of abuse of funds or subverting justice come at a time when we’re preparing for the continental football showpiece, Afcon, is deliberately done to make sure there’s chaos in camp,” said Machana.
“This deliberate misinformation is meant to cause people to mistrust Zifa and the public must be aware that those doing this are enemies of football. If I, Machana, am wrong, or have dipped into the association’s coffers, then I should be reported, arrested and be prosecuted. When we moved those funds, we had learnt that one of the association’s creditors wanted to attach the Zifa Nostro account. Remember in court processes to freeze an account, you’re not forewarned and you only get to know about it when you want to transact. Upon picking up that a raid was being planned, we were duty-bound to protect Fifa money because Fifa are clear that the funds they send are for football programmes not to pay debts.
“We moved the money to a company I have interests in on January 25, 2019, and moved it to a new Zifa account on February 5. If you look at the bank statement, you will see that no other transactions were made between that period.
“After detecting the threat we acted and to me that’s not obstruction of justice because we were not served with any court order notifying us that they were raiding the Zifa accounts,” said Machana.
Machana had been accused of “dribbling” his way past the association’s accounts.
In his defence, Machana said the creditor that wanted to attach the association’s Nostro account was Daisy Hotel, which he indicated they had paid using the then prevailing official rate of US dollar and RTGS dollars. There have been loud calls for a forensic audit on Zifa accounts, but Machana said the association had nothing to hide.
“This is a public organisation and we are very open to anyone who needs information. We don’t have a problem with a forensic audit, but there must be a reason. We’re audited by Fifa and qualified auditors. Right now the assembly in May agreed that we change auditors and three companies were identified, two of which are Ernest and Young and KPMG. I’ve forgotten the third auditing firm,” said Machana.
Questioned why he had not included the movement of funds from the Zifa accounts to his company, Machana said: “The audited financials presented at the May 25 were for the year ending December 2018. Everything done as from January 1, 2019, will be captured in the financials to be presented next year for the year ending December 31, 2019.”
Machana said their focus is on raising funds to pay Warriors’ players for the Afcon finals in Egypt.
“We paid players their daily allowances when they were in South Africa for Cosafa. We owe players allowances from today and their local allowances before they left the country for South Africa.
“We are also working on their appearance fees and everything that the fundraising committee appointed by President Mnangagwa raises will be paid directly to the beneficiaries,” said Machana.
A Warriors’ fundraising dinner will be held in Harare tomorrow.