Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Ndebele courts Zifa wrath over critical media statements

By Ricky Zililo

The country’s football motherbody, Zifa might have overstepped when they demanded that Premier Soccer League chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele responds to misconduct allegations for raising critical points on how Covid-19 funds were being distributed.

PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele
PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele

In a letter dated November 18, signed by the association’s chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse, Ndebele has been given seven days to respond to the strange and shocking allegations ‘of misconduct’.

Zifa say media statements attributed to Ndebele in stories published between August 23 and September 9, 2020 “demean the standing of the association and are meant to bring the game of football into disrepute”.

The first story that Zifa is basing their investigation on was published on August 20.

The story stated that Zifa left PSL sides shocked when it announced slashing of funds that they were availing to the league in their revised schedule of the funds they are disbursing as part of the US$1,5 million relief package availed by world soccer governing body FIFA.

The association slashed by half the initial US$20 000 they had allocated to the PSL for administration in the facilitation of football’s safe return in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The clubs, represented by their board of governors, then assigned Ndebele to respond and implored their chairman Farai Jere to revisit the matter and make a strong representation of their plight to the Zifa board.

Caps United president Jere sits on the Zifa board by virtue of his position as PSL chairman and the clubs believe he should do more to convince his Zifa executive committee colleagues to consider the plight of the top-flight clubs.

It is also the clubs’ contention that Zifa could be punishing them for demanding their share of the Fifa funds in hard currency.The clubs steadfastly maintained their position when they met the Zifa board in Harare on July 18.

Unfortunately, when the majority of 17 other clubs gave greenlight to Ndebele’s letter, Jere was in remand prison with two Zesa employees facing charges of fraud involving, it is understood, the sale of electricity meters using allegedly falsified documents to prejudice Zesa by as much as US$4 million.

The PSL boss only got his bail on September 3.

In that letter, the PSL said reduction of the relief fund was going to cripple an already ailing organization and also highlighted the importance of strictly adhering to Covid-19 protocols to ensure a safe return.

PSL governors who spoke to this publication yesterday lashed out at Zifa, saying the association should have raised their complaint with their chairman Jere, who in turn could have instituted disciplinary measures in the event that Ndebele erred.

“It’s funny because when the letter or letters that Ndebele wrote on behalf of the league were sent to intended recipients, they were first discussed in the board of governors’ group. The CEO consulted us as his bosses and we gave that six-page document the greenlight. It passed through the league’s emergency committee that has Jere, Dynamos’s Isiah Mupfurutsa, Kenneth Mhlophe of Highlanders and the league’s vice-chairman Lifa Ncube before it was sent to all the governors.

“Since we are the ones that gave the greenlight, maybe Zifa must charge us for giving Ndebele who is our employee an instruction to write that letter. We can forgive Jere because he was not there when the matter was discussed but that decision was in the best interest of the clubs,” said a PSL board member.

Zifa said its investigations were bsed on stories published by different newspapers.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the statements in issue are published in the following newspaper articles and on the stated dates:

23-08-2020, The Sunday Mail — Zifa, PSL covid-19 battle rages on by Petros Kausiyo;

24-08-2020, The Standard – PSL, Zifa on collision course by Munyaradzi Madzokere;

06-09-2020, Daily News – PSL, ZIFA tiff over relief funds spirals …. league seeks increase in covid-19 relief aid by Godknows Matarutse;

08-09-2020, The Herald – PSL dismiss football restart by Eddie Chikamhi;

09-09-2020, Daily News – ZIFA, PSL row over 2020 season start …. As they say return to play protocols are too costly.” ead part of Zifa letter.

Zifa wants Ndebele to release a press statement denying the media reports or face sanctions.

Zifa also accuses Ndebele of writing a “letter clearly showing the writer’s negative view of the association” to the Sports and Recreation Commission at an unknown date.

They also questioned why Ndebele copied SRC and the World League Forum an organization for global elite leagues information related to the PSL’s updates on Covid-19.

“It appears to show that there is conflict between the association and the affiliates. As an official of the association, you are expected to act in a manner consistent with the mandate of the association in the advancement of football in the country.

“…Confirm whether or not you authored the aforementioned letter to the SRC and the basis upon which the allegations against the association contained therein are made,” reads part of the letter.

Zifa accuse Ndebele of failing to “make available the accounting details of the PSL clubs” without “reasonable excuse” for Covid-19 funds to be disbursed.

The league clubs had instructed their secretariat headed by Ndebele to wait for determination of their issue after asking Zifa to pay their Covid-19 package in forex instead of local currency.

Another board member said: “Ndebele is only being persecuted for asking what has been happening to the US$50 000 fund from FIFA that the PSL is supposed to be getting each year? Zifa acknowledged that FIFA gives them US$50 000 every year that is meant for the PSL but failed to account for it. Maybe they are seeing that Ndebele is making governors aware of the money that Zifa isn’t giving them? The Chronicle.