Giants want bailout in forex Kenneth Mhlophe

Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE country’s traditional football giants Highlanders and Dynamos are leading the call for Zifa to pay affiliates Covid-19 relief funds in foreign currency.

Premiership teams are set to get a big chunk of the US$1,8 million Zifa received from Fifa and Caf to assist clubs survive adverse effects of the pandemic.

Zifa announced that it will allocate the PSL about $25,7 million (US$390 197), with each club set to get an equivalent of about US$5 000 in local currency, with the bulk of the money going towards funding Covid-19 tests for players and staff.

PSL governors have reportedly tasked league chairman Farai Jere, who represents them in the Zifa executive, to tell the association that they want the bailout in foreign currency.

The league’s bosses are likely to use Saturday’s special meeting with the Zifa executive to state their case and lobby for the relief money to be paid in forex.

This is the first time outside congress that the PSL governors and Zifa executive committee meet to discuss the state of football in the country in the wake of the paralysis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

All the 18 clubs’ chairpersons have been invited to the indaba, which will touch on a number of football issues, including the plight of topflight clubs during the lockdown period.

Highlanders chairman Kenneth Mhlophe said getting the relief in foreign currency will help the club preserve value of the funds.

“Look, we are grateful that aid has finally come to cushion us during these tough times. Under these circumstances, it will be wise if we are to be paid in foreign currency to preserve value of the funds because if you look at the economic environment, rates change every week and that makes it impossible to keep the money for a long time in local currency,” said Mhlophe.

“We are aware that Fifa is sending the money in US dollars and some are already asking why Zifa is not asking clubs to open nostro accounts and transfer funds instead of the association ‘burning’ the US dollar and giving clubs local currency,” he said.

Dynamos chairman Isaiah Mupfurutsa shared Mhlophe’s sentiments, saying most service providers are demanding payment in foreign currency.

Dynamos chairman, Isaiah Mupfurutsa

“I think it’s wise to be given the relief funds in forex because it doesn’t make sense for you as a club to go back and look for US dollars when you want to pay for some services. Rates change every week, meaning by the time you use that money the value would have been long hit by rates. We want the bailout in US dollars and that is also the view of most of our colleagues,” said Mupfurutsa.

Unlike Highlanders, who lost their sponsor NetOne when Covid-19 struck, Dynamos are enjoying fruits from their sponsors Remmington Gold.

Zimbabwe’s Twitter Kings Bulawayo Chiefs director Lovemore Sibanda also expressed his concerns in getting the bailout in local currency.

Sibanda, unlike most of the Premiership clubs that are backed by companies, is single-handedly bankrolling Chiefs.

“It’s not that when I get the relief fund I have to use it on a single day so that we get the most for the value; we have to spread it over time. Imagine, there is talk of the league starting in September, part of this money should be budgeted for activities leading to the start of the season. I trust that there are wise people who will see the value of our contributions and reconsider paying us in local currency,” said Sibanda.

Even lower division clubs are also eagerly waiting for a fair share of the cake.

Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela could not be drawn into revealing the structure of disbursing funds.

“It will be available at the appropriate time,” Gwesela said. — @ZililoR.

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