COSAFA president Philip Chiyangwa is in the eye of a storm after it emerged that he and his executive members at the regional football governing body allegedly pocketed over R1,5 million in allowances last year, at a time the association had posted a R2,5 million loss.
BY HENRY MHARA
The details are contained in an audit report done by Baxters and Co, which was circulated to member associations ahead of the Cosafa annual general assembly (AGM) meeting set for Saturday at the Southern Sun OR Tambo Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The audit shows that the executive members got R1 429 400 in allowances last year, a massive increment from the R857 064 they received in the previous year. It is Chiyangwa, the report shows, who received a huge chunk of the money. The flamboyant businessman was allegedly given R301 150 in allowances, in addition to a R580 000 payment he received as an “honorarium”.
An honorarium is a voluntary payment that is given to a person for services for which fees are not legally or traditionally required. Honoraria are typically used to help cover costs for volunteers.
Chiyangwa then allegedly claimed another R19 696 from Cosafa in travel costs reimbursements.
His deputy Frans Mbidi of Namibia received R156 850 while Cosafa executive member (competitions) Timothy Shongwe of Swaziland got R147 390. The other executive members (six) received just over R100 000. Travel and accommodation alone gobbled R749 055.
Member associations who spoke to NewsDaySport on condition of anonymity said they were not happy with the huge perks that Chiyangwa and his executive awarded themselves, when the organisation is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
They complained about the honorarium payment, a sum which is above the prize money given to the team that wins the Cosafa senior men’s football tournament. Winners of the Cosafa senior men – the flagship competition of the organisation, receive R500 000, while the runners-up get R250 000.
“And all that money was paid in a year the organisation posted a record loss. How do you justify paying one person allowances that are above the winning prize money for your main competition? It’s unacceptable. We will want that to be debated at the AGM. There will be fireworks this year and heads will certainly roll,” a president of one of the member associations wrote to NewsDaySport last week.
Another member association also alleged mismanagement of funds by the Cosafa executive. They said that former Cosafa president, Patel Suket, who was deposed by Chiyangwa, left huge cash reserves of more than R13 million, which have since been reduced to R3,8 million.
“We have also been made aware that all private trips to South Africa by the Cosafa president and some members of his family and friends have been covered and paid for by Cosafa and such are tucked in the R749 055 summarised figure of travel and accommodation for the year 2019. We are not sure which rule, policy or resolution is being followed. This is violation of financial prudence and we will request detailed reports and ledger accounts to unlock and lay bare what lay beneath these summarised figures,” another source said.
“Also worrying is a figure of R19 696 which was paid to Chiyangwa as reimbursements. Cosafa has always provided tickets to officials and so under what circumstances was the refund paid to the president? Was this not a case of double dipping after another organisation like Fifa had provided the travel tickets? How and why has such only happened to one person, the president? Is it a coincidence or an act of fraud?” the source queried.
Some were further infuriated on realising that one of the items on the agenda was a proposal for an annual contribution by member associations to competition funds.
“We will totally rebuff such. The executive wants the member associations to pay money so that they can get more perks. If they can avoid paying huge allowances and the so-called honorariums, they will be able to fund competitions easily.”
NewsDaySport yesterday sent questions to Cosafa secretary-general Sue Destombes, and the spokesperson Lynda Greeff, but they had not responded by the time of going to print last night.
The audit report also noted that there were party transactions involving a company called Execusports Proprietary Limited which is “owned by a close family member of a key management”.
The company received business from the organisation worth almost R2 million in the last two years, something that has rattled the member associations.
Execusports Proprietary Limited, which is allegedly run by a daughter of one of “a very senior figure” at Cosafa, received R790 201 last year. They were paid R970 917 in the previous year for the services they provided to Cosafa. It is not clear what kind of services the company provides.
Some member associations, perceived to be outspoken, are complaining that Destombes allegedly withheld critical information and also deliberately communicated late about the AGM.
Some claim that they only received the notice and agenda of the AGM and the financial statements on Friday last week, on the deadline day to submit their proposals, submissions and questions for consideration and actioning during the meeting.
They said this was a deliberate ploy to disenfranchise and suffocate their input. Some immediately wrote back to the Cosafa secretariat requesting for “more time and details to enable them to adequately prepare and effectively participate in the AGM”.
Zifa have also made their proposal to make a presentation at the meeting, where they are planning to move a motion to dismiss Chiyangwa.
The association last year unsuccessfully made a bid to recall Chiyangwa as the president of the 14-member regional body.
They accuse him of interfering with their administration. “Football in Zimbabwe is being poisoned by someone who should be at the worst not negatively interfering and at most complementing efforts of the FA,” wrote Zifa to Cosafa last week. Chiyangwa, who was removed from the Zifa presidency by Felton Kamambo in 2018, maintains his innocence.