Source: THE GRAVY TRAIN | The Herald

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—
FORMER ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze has been accused of overpaying himself in excess of a staggering $700 000 — at an average of about $13 000 every month in suspicious payments over five years — during his time as the leader of the country’s football governing body’s secretariat.Mashingaidze, who was a leading member of the ZIFA leadership under Harare business executive Cuthbert Dube, was elbowed out of the country’s football leadership in April last year when the current board chose not to extend his contract.

He denies the allegations he overpaid himself such an astronomical amount. ZIFA have been head-hunting for a substantive chief executive since then with a number of candidates who had applied for the post being deemed, by the association president Philip Chiyangwa, as not suited for the position.

International banker Andy Hodges, who was appointed CAPS United chairman at the beginning of the year while still based in Malaysia, is reported to be one of the people who have emerged as suitable candidates for the post of ZIFA chief executive.

Hodges has relocated from his base in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and is now back home exploring possible opportunities, in business as well as in the game he has served with distinction, including a highly successful term as the Green Machine chairman in 2004 when he led Makepekepe to the league championship.

Last week, Hodges held a meeting with Chiyangwa were the two exchanged notes on the state of football in this country. Mashingaidze, who is now a football consultant, claims he is still owed a substantial amount by ZIFA for his services to the association and has dragged his former employers to the Labour Court seeking an order for them to pay him his dues.

Yesterday, the two parties came before a Labour Officer with ZIFA being represented by their legal adviser Itai Ndudzo where the association made the sensational claim that Mashingaidze overpaid himself more than $700 000 during his tenure as chief executive.

The association claim the accusations are contained in a report on the state of football in Zimbabwe that was compiled by the Sports and Recreation Commission and which covers, extensively, the time when Mashingaidze was the ZIFA chief executive between April 11, 2011 and April 1 last year.

This translates to more than $13 000 a month, in suspicious payments, which the Sports Commission claim Mashingaidze might have paid himself during that period and which the ZIFA board have now revealed.

It also means, if it is true, that Mashingaidze might have pocketed more than $1 million in earnings — both the legal and illegal payments — during his five year-stint in charge of the ZIFA secretariat when he was the second most powerful man in domestic football after Dube.

Some critics even claim he was the most powerful man in the game in the country during that time, saying his influence was such that Dube and his board were relegated to play second fiddle to their employee, although Mashingaidze has repeatedly denied those claims in the past.

He also denies this controversial payment of more than $700 000, which the Sports Commission claim he kept paying himself in suspicious circumstances, dismissing it as the work of enemies who want to see his downfall.

The former ZIFA chief executive claims he is owed $85 338.81 in outstanding salaries and $37 800 in unpaid allowances, which include accommodation, transport and tuition, which brings his combined claim to more than $110 000.

But ZIFA, in a counter claim, have said Mashingaidze could be approaching the Labour Court with dirty hands given that he is also accused of having pocketed more than $700 000, in questionable payments he allegedly authorised for himself, during his time as the leader of the Association’s secretariat.

The ZIFA legal advisers made the shock revelations, related to the money which Mashingaidze allegedly overpaid himself, in a memo that was sent to the Association’s acting chief executive Joseph Mamutse yesterday to advise him on the status of the labour dispute between the country’s football governing body and Mashingaidze.

We make reference to the above subject: We advise that we attended conciliation proceedings before a labour officer today at 11am at Makombe Building. The proceedings were attended by our Mr Ndudzo and myself on behalf of the Association and Mr Mashingaidze with his legal practitioner.

The Claimant (Mashingaidze), in his submissions, averred that he had a contract of employment with the Association between 11 April 2011 and 1 April 2016.

Further it was submitted that claimant’s gross salary in terms of the contract was $4 500as a result he is owed $85 338,81 in outstanding salaries and $ 37 800 in unpaid allowances which include accommodation, transport and tuition.

In response our Mr Ndudzo conceded to the existence of a contract of employment, but strongly disputed Mr Mashingaidze’s claim on the basis that there was no proof that he was owed the amount claimed.

Moreover it was submitted that he overpaid himself in excess of $700 000 as noted in the SRC Report on the State of Zimbabwean football. In response the claimant disputed the findings of the SRC and alleged that the allegations of overpaying himself $700 000 are trumped up charges with no basis.

It was then concluded that there was no possible settlement between parties hence the labour officer issued a Certificate of “No settlement”. The parties agreed the claimant would file his submissions by 10 July 2017, with the Respondent filing its submissions by the 24th of July 2017. ‘’We trust you will find the above to be in order,’’ the lawyers said in their memo.

Mashingaidze’s contract with ZIFA was not renewed in April last year with the Association’s leadership saying they needed a fresh face to lead their secretariat.