Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
FINANCIALLY strained Zifa says Fifa funds are safe after clearing a long-standing Daisy Lodge debt in excess of US$200 000 that had resulted in the association’s bank accounts being garnished.
Zifa board member responsible for finance, Phillemon Machana, told Chronicle Sport yesterday that the garnish had been lifted and a bus “donated” to the association by the South African Football Association (Safa), which had been attached by Daisy Lodge, had been released.
It is the garnishing of the Zifa’s nostro account into which Fifa deposits development funds that prompted the national association to speedily act as it faced the possibility of not getting financial assistance from the world football governing body.
“It is true that we’ve managed to clear the Daisy Lodge debt and plans are in motion to clear more. Daisy Lodge was among Zifa creditors that had sought redress through the courts and had attached some of our property like the bus donated by Safa after the (2010) World Cup. That bus was donated to Zifa and countries such as Botswana, Zambia and other Southern African countries got similar donations after the World Cup,” said Machana.
“We are using the bus through a temporary import permit because if we change ownership, then we have to pay duty. During the time that the bus was attached by Daisy Lodge, Zifa lost the right to use it. We’ve since paid in excess of US$200 000 which covers the debt and all costs such as storage and the sheriff’s charges,” he said.
Machana said the association had to prioritise the clearing of the Daisy Lodge debt following the garnishing of its bank account where Fifa funds are deposited.
“Fifa is specific that development money should be for development and not to pay debts so we had to run around to raise money to clear the Daisy Lodge debt so that the garnish could be lifted,” said Machana
Zifa has a debt of about US$8 million and Machana said plans are underway to clear the debt.
He said they have been “quietly” engaging debtors and clearing smaller amounts.
Machana who has been accused of abusing Fifa funds, said he was innocent.
“People always talk and there’s nothing that can stop them from talking. I don’t abuse Fifa funds. Zifa doesn’t abuse the Fifa funds and that is why we always get support from Fifa after submitting our budget and accounting for the money received. We also have Zifa financials audited every year. Fifa also audit the development funds and go through every detail to ensure the funds are used for their intended purpose.
The audited financials are available for members of the public who might want to check the books, ” said Machana.
He could not be drawn into commenting about the half a million rand in allowances that a 12-member Zifa entourage blew on a five-day capacity-building and benchmarking interactive junket at the South African Football Association last month.
It is said the 12 officials each received varying amounts ranging from US$700 to US$1 000 per day.
For the whole delegation, Zifa paid about R600 000 in allowances, with Zifa president Felton Kamambo getting the lion’s share.
“I think the association’s spokesperson (Xolisani Gwesela) answered that one,” said Machana.
On the debt retirement plan, Machana said they were engaging all creditors.
“The president Kamambo is on record saying, we want to engage everyone and that is what we are doing. Remember, in 2015, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) board called for an inquiry into the status of football and met various stakeholders, who included former players and administrators.
“One of the recommendations was that Government intervention was needed to save Zifa. A forensic audit was supposed to be done before any Government bailout and Kamambo is leading us in trying to pursue that route. We’re open to a forensic audit because that’s the only way we can be assisted by Government and also gain confidence of the corporate world,” said Machana.