Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
SKELETONS are coming out of the 2014 African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games’ local organising committee closet following leaked correspondence between a high ranking Government official and the Loc chairperson authorising the release of US$7 210 as allowances for five volunteers.
However, the five volunteers who were attached to the Loc marketing and technical departments said they never received payment for their services, with the Government official saying the five were omitted when other 745 volunteers received their allowances during the Games.
In a letter dated May 18, 2015, to Thokozile Chitepo, the permanent secretary of the then Ministry of Sport, Arts and Recreation by Loc chairperson Khonzani Ncube which is referenced; ‘Request for payment of allowances to volunteer workers attached to the Loc secretariat before, during and after the hosting of the 2014 Ausc Region Five Under-20 Youth Games’, revealed that the volunteers were engaged in October 2014 and remained on duty until they were released in January 2015.
“The Loc secretariat is kindly requesting for permission to pay allowances to volunteers who were attached to the Loc secretariat before, during and after the hosting of the Ausc Region Five Under-20 Youth Games. The volunteer workers attached to the secretariat were not paid volunteer and meal allowances paid to the rest of the secretariat staff for the duration of the Games.
“The catergory of volunteer workers assumed duty in October 2014 and were released in January 2015. The volunteer workers in the category are the ones who were manning mainly marketing and technical arms of the Loc secretariat hence their early assumption of duty and release in January 2015. By virtue of their nature of work, they became part of the secretariat staff who are entitled to payments of amounts paid to the rest of the secretariat. The Loc secretariat still has an obligation to pay the secretariat volunteer workers as per Loc’s initial submission. In light of the above, permission is kindly requested to pay the outstanding volunteer allowances for the period at a rate calculated using the approved daily volunteer allowance rate,” reads Ncube’s letter to Chitepo.
She also attached a list of the volunteers, indicating their department of attachment, day of engagement, number of days worked, daily rate and total amount that each of the volunteer was entitled.
The first volunteer (name withheld), attached to Loc marketing was engaged on August 12, 2014, and she worked for 136 days and ought to have been paid US$ 1 360. The second one was engaged two days letter under the marketing department and worked for 152 days and was entitled to US$1 520. The third and fourth volunteers were engaged on August 20 in the technical department and both worked for 144 days, translating to an allowance of US$1 440.
The last of the volunteers joined the technical department on August 21 and worked for 145 days and ought to have been paid US$1 450.
In her response on June 4, 2015, which she hand scribbled at the bottom of Ncube’s letter, Chitepo consented to the request and said the five were going to be paid from the GoZ (believed to be Government of Zimbabwe) funds.
“Recommended for approval as the remaining five volunteer workers were omitted when the 745 others were paid during the Games. The US$10/day allowance rate was agreed upon by the Roc (regional organising committee) and Loc with the concurrence of treasury,” wrote Chitepo.
However, in separate interviews, the volunteers said they were never paid and suspected that some members of the Loc helped themselves to the money.
“We never saw that money and we kept asking about it until we heard that there is in fact a memo from the permanent secretary instructing Loc to pay us, an instruction which up to now hasn’t been fulfilled. Why and how, we don’t know, but serve to suspect that some people helped themselves to our money,” said one of the volunteers.
Efforts to contact Lathi Sijingo, the Loc director of finance, who was responsible for payments, were fruitless.