Suspended ZIFA executive demand public apology from Kirsty Coventry
Suspended Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) board members have come out ‘all guns blazing’ against Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry, accusing her of defamation of character following her recent utterances that they were ousted for corruption and sexual abuse.
Led by suspended ZIFA president Felton Kamambo during a media briefing held in Harare on Monday, the members demanded that the former Olympic winner and world record holder “retract her words as well as to issue a publicly apology”.
This comes after Coventry told the Parliamentary Committee last week Monday some of the reasons why the suspended ZIFA board members were relieved of their duties by the government arm, the SRC.
She said that Kamambo and company were suspended for allegedly failing to account for US$2 million they received from the government in 2019 and also for sexual abuse of female referees.
The accused who spoke publicly for the first time since their suspension in November 2021, have dismissed the allegations ordering Coventry to “issue a public apology” saying the “baseless accusations (are) inaccurate, patently false, misleading and unsubstantiated”.
“We respond to the false allegations as follows, the false assertion that ZIFA was in acts of corruption failed to account for US$2million given to them by government,” reads the statement.
“No such money was ever given to ZIFA during the three years the suspended Board were in office. ZIFA only received USD$53 000 from government in 2019 and such was fully acquitted, SRC also confirmed same through their forensic auditors on ZIFA affairs that only RTGS$85 800 was paid to ZIFA by government.
“The Minister therefore misrepresented to Parliament, the entire Country and rest of the world that government gave ZIFA through her Ministry a whooping USD$2million dollars which has not been acquitted to this day and justified the ZIFA Board suspension on that false narrative.
“False assertion that three ZIFA Board members were accused of sexual harassment of female referees and that one former Board member had since been found guilty by FIFA and another was facing disciplinary processes by FIFA. This is utterly false and the Minister knows it.
“We have also through our lawyers written and served the Minister with a letter of demand asking her to do the honourable thing through retraction and public apology to us for the pain she has caused,” ends the statement.
Nehanda Radio reports the accused have through their lawyers Rubaya and Chatambudza Legal Practitioners served the Sport Minister with the letter dated 03 April 2023 “urging her to be truthful to the nation as well as the political leadership”.
The letter also reads: “In the event that you (Coventry) fail to retract defamatory statements as demanded, our clients shall proceed to issue summons and claim damage for defamation without any further notice.”