By Eddie Chikamhi
HARARE – It just keeps getting worse for beleaguered ZIFA, with suspended board member Bernard Gwarada becoming the latest in a string of creditors to secure a writ to attach the association’s properties in a bid to recover $90 000 that is owed to his company LED Car and Travel.
LED were given the green light by the High Court in Harare to attach the properties, which include the ZIFA House in Bulawayo, the association’s Kensington house and the ZIFA head offices in the capital in their bid to offset a long-standing debt.
The debt emanated from an agreement between ZIFA and LED Car Hire for the company to borrow money from two banks on behalf of the association to finance the Warriors’ failed 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The loans were to cover the cost of the air tickets, with the ZIFA Trust underwriting the transaction and the former chairman of the board of Trustees Tshinga Dube, providing the security.
Despite those assurances, it was LED who were targeted by their bankers and bore the brunt of the demands.
Now the company which unsuccessfully tried to get ZIFA to settle the debt have turned the screws on the troubled association whose leadership was booted out of office when unhappy councillors revoked the mandate of Cuthbert Dube and his board.
LED lost faith in the association after several attempts to have ZIFA settle the debt failed to yield results.
ZIFA chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze yesterday acknowledged the debt and claimed that they are making plans to engage the creditors.
“As an association, we have always been open to engagement with all our creditors and I can confirm that we have instructed our lawyers to engage the lawyers of the creditors.
“So I can’t say much at the moment because the issue is being handled by the lawyers,” said Mashingaidze.
Mashingaidze also acknowledged in writing in December last year that they owed LED Travel and Tours a total of $90 306,04 and even undertaken to start servicing the debt by January of this year.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association wishes to acknowledge the above debt made up as follows:
“(1) $32 118,96 owed to LED Travel and Tours for facility offered to the company by FBC Bank on behalf of the Zimbabwe Football Association and (2) $58 187,08 owed to LED Travel and Tours for facility offered to the company by BancABC on behalf of the Zimbabwe Football Association.
“The association undertakes to commence servicing the amount with effect from 31st January, 2015,” wrote Mashingaidze then.
But after making that undertaking, ZIFA, as they often did under the ousted leadership defaulted.
ZIFA cited their poor financial standing and the demands by the national teams to meet their commitments in various competitions this year as one of the major reasons why they could not service the LED debts.
Of the attached properties, the Harare house in Kensington is being leased to tenants while ZIFA marketing manager Wellington Mugwagwa also uses part of the property.
The ZIFA House in Bulawayo houses the association’s Southern Region offices.
This is also not the first time that the ZIFA House in Bulawayo has been attached over the association’s failure to service a debt.
Earlier this year the house was due for auctioning and was only saved from the hammer at the last minute over a US$1,5 million that was owed to CBZ Bank Limited with Dube acting as guarantor for ZIFA and putting his Waterfalls home at stake.
ZIFA Southern Region chairman Musa Mandaza said the picture was not looking good and appealed to LED Car Hire to give the association more time. Mandaza said the Southern Region headquarters had suffered the brunt of a transaction done by their head offices.
“We have been told that the property is now under the High Court, but everything is being handled by the chief executive officer who has indicated that they have engaged the lawyers representing LED Car hire.
“We understand they are working on a plan and hopefully a favourable solution will be found. It will be a sad day for football in the Southern Region if these properties are to be auctioned.
“This office is the epitome of football here, you cannot talk of football without the mention of the Bulawayo office because that is where the development of the game takes place.
“These are assets that have been in existence for a long time and they are there to serve even the future generations. So we are pleading with LED Car Hire to bear with us especially at this point in time when we are going through a transition.
“We are hoping a new board will be in place very soon and they will look into those issues with more seriousness,” said Mandaza. The Herald