SUNDAY 25TH of November 2018
PRESS STATEMENT BY PHILLEMON MACHANA (CURRENT ZIFA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER IN CHARGE OF FINANCE AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER ASPIRANT FOR PENDING ZIFA ELECTIONS) pertaining to the falsehoods contained in the Standard Newspaper Article penned by Mr. Munyaradzi Madzokere
I wish to begin by stating that l am not one to always search for unnecessary limelight through continuously issuing statements, commenting or worse still taking to a sparring exercise with members of the fourth estate, the media, on matters involving football, my personal or professional life. When it comes to ZIFA issues, l usually only comment or make presentations in fora where l am expected to speak while leaving the day to day communication to a dedicated and capable ZIFA communications Manager, Mr. Xolisani Gwesela and the ZIFA President. However, this release is one of those rare situations where it becomes necessary to respond and in particular to falsehoods which are contained in The Standard newspaper publication of Sunday 25th of November 2018 in a back-page story titled “ZIFA elections in doubt” and authored by one Munyaradzi Madzokere.
I wish to start by categorically mentioning that l respect the media and the critical role they perform in educating and informing the nation and holding various institutions to account. In particular, l respect the shareholders and directors of the concerned publication who have kept the paper going in a tough economic environment where others may have long closed shop. It is also my firm belief that as a respectable publication, the paper does not harbour as its editorial policy, criminal intentions to wilfully mislead the public, lie and /or even injure innocent persons’ reputations by seeking to peddle non-existent issues as news and for ulterior motives.
I have reasons to therefore believe that the reporter of this article intentionally misled, lied and injured my reputation without any provocation from me and l clarify the falsehoods in this release.
Mr. Munyaradzi Madzokere alleges without quoting his sources (l sincerely hope he has them) that there is rampant misappropriation of funds at ZIFA. He went on to claim that his sources informed him that, “The money from FIFA and the COSAFA winners’ cheque was deposited into the account of Phillemon Machana in South Africa.” As if that is not enough the same reporter shamelessly went on to mislead the public that he made efforts to solicit for a comment from my person but failed to get to me because my mobile was unreachable.
The following are therefore the correct verifiable facts with regards to this unfortunate claim by Mr. Munyaradzi Madzokere, The Standard reporter who wrote the libelous article:
FIFA does not pay any Football Association (FA) funds to individuals and has not and will never do such transactions.
FIFA periodically audits all the money it pays to FAs, ZIFA included, and it uses for this exercise as one of the primary sources the dedicated FAP bank account operated and run by the association for that purpose. For the past 3 years including 2018, FIFA has been sending its own auditors to audit all ZIFA transactions regarding the FAP funds and in all instances ZIFA has been found to be clean. This for a well-meaning journalist who is bent on writing the truth is not at all difficult to confirm even from FIFA itself.
I do not operate a bank account in any country outside Zimbabwe and surely if Mr. Madzokere was serious he would have provided details of the account and the banking institution which l purportedly bank with. I must at this point indicate that what the reporter and his non-existent and self-created sources fail to appreciate is that they are accusing me & ZIFA in cohorts with FIFA of externalization and money laundering and such are very serious crimes in the current dispensation and in accordance with our laws.
Apart from the alleged criminality, these lies naturally put dents to my profession and everything good that l stand for. I therefore publicly challenge the reporter to come clean and show the world proof of these transactions he has referred to.
Mr. Munyaradzi Madzokere never attempted at any time to contact me as he alleges. My call records will show that at no time has my phone been unreachable in the last 4 days and that l have been receiving and making calls. It is very clear as a blue sky that this bad apple of a reporter never had any intention of contacting me and clearly because he obviously knew that what he was about to write was false.
Regarding COSAFA prize money, again the journalist lied as such has never and cannot happen. The reporter could have easily requested from COSAFA for details on how any proceeds of prizes were distributed to ZIFA and l am sure such would have been provided, but again he deliberately avoided that verification route and chose to scandalize me for crimes not committed.
It is also a fact that ZIFA has been audited every year by a very reputable firm. To show no bad intentions, the current executive found the same firm auditing our books and no effort was made to change them. This we did so that no one can accuse us of putting our own firm and tinkering with the auditors’ independence. Surely if such transgressions of externalizing were happening this could have also been picked up by the auditors.
It is also a fact that annual audit reports on ZIFA have been religiously done with the reportage continuing to improve in successive years since our coming into office and in particular my taking over the position of Board Member responsible for finance. We have improved in all areas be it existing internal controls, transparency, accountability issues, procurement policies and honouring of created current obligations. We have been in every football competition and have made sure football is played with minimum incidents. It is therefore sad that an individual reporter sought to soil the good working relationship between The Standard and ZIFA to pursue an individual agenda devoid of fair reporting whose motive only him can answer.
Finally, while l appreciate ZIFA is in an electioneering period, l do not however believe that reporters can use that to unnecessarily defame and attack other people’s professional status and even going as far as creating non-existent activities which border on serious crimes.
For the avoidance of doubt, Mr. Felton Kamambo is a colleague of mine, l speak to him regularly even now, l have no personal issues with him and l am sure as a former board member he also knows too well how FIFA and COSAFA transact and that there is no way funds can ever be paid directly to individual owned foreign or local bank accounts. I believe he also knows me too well that this which is being alleged is a white lie.
I would also want to put it in record that l am a candidate in the coming ZIFA election, l am being contested by all those whose papers were independently assessed by the electoral committee and found to be in good standing and thus l cannot accept my name to be unfairly soiled by the said reporter. I thus demand a retraction of the lies and in the same prominence it was given in the said story. I have not, am not and will never fight with anyone for a football position and I urge Mr Madzokere to be a professional and cease these funny childish games he is playing at his employer’s time.
As a disciple of good governance, l will never allow under my watch meagre ZIFA funds to be misappropriated. I came to serve football not for football to serve me. I have never personally interacted with this Madzokere guy and would not know him even if l meet him.
I therefore rest my case by assuring all stakeholders including current and potential ZIFA partners that the association funds have been in good, trustable and professional hands. I urge these to ignore the prophets of doom and those that think news is only news when they portray a negative picture such that if they fail to find any bad realities they will rather go ahead and create fake news in their news rooms and lace them up with some fake and non-existent sources “who refuse to be named” and also be the only ones that fail to go through a phone which is very reachable. Such is the kind of gutter journalism as exhibited by Munyaradzi Madzokere of the Standard newspaper that kills a nation, kills sport and kills players who in essence must survive out of this noble profession.
Whilst I take criticism, such must however not be founded on lies. If the reporter sought to damage my reputation ahead of the ZIFA election, my advice to him is that the ZIFA council is full of professionals who can for themselves check and make decision on the correct situation on the ground as opposed to relying on cheap propaganda from a fighting reporter.
I do hope the stakeholders of the paper will take appropriate action on this one journalist who seems to be doing everything to destroy a good newspaper’s image.
I end by wishing all football loving persons an enjoyable festive season and wishing all those brave candidates for the pending ZIFA election the very best.
ZIFA Executive Committee member in charge of Finance and aspiring Executive Committee Member.