Eddie Chikamhi Sports journalist
VETERAN sports administrator Tommy Ganda Sithole has distanced himself from accusations made by ousted ZIFA board members linking him to the draft forensic audit report leaked by BDO Zimbabwe.
The unsigned report, which uncovered serious financial wrongdoing within the association, circulated on various social media platforms this week and the story was later picked up by mainstream media.
Sithole, who is a member of ZIFA’s restructuring committee and also chairman of Zimpapers, yesterday denied a press release made by lawyers representing ousted ZIFA chairman Felton Kamambo, linking him to the leaked report.
The experienced administrator is currently in South Korea for the elective general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
“I am in Seoul, South Korea at the moment attending the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) Elective General Assembly,” Sithole said in a statement.
“1) I have been made aware of a statement purporting to have been issued by a law firm associating me with BDO’s leaked report on ZIFA’s forensic audit.
“2) They must first understand the simple facts. The Restructuring Committee does NOT have a Vice-Chair. I’m just one of the committee members, period.
“3) The statement associates me with the leak, apparently because I am also president of Zimpapers.
“4) The only name associated with the leak and therefore more than an insinuation that I may have had something to do with it is just a dumb, unamusing proposition that is definitely not appreciated.
“5) Since the allegations allegedly contained in the leaked report are, for a layman like me, borderline prosecutable. I absolutely challenge those who accuse me of being associated with the leak to either sue me or shut up forever. I know they are cowards.
“6) For greater certainty, at the time of writing this response, I have NOT read the BDO report and do not know what is in it.
“7) If those who were allegedly mentioned in the report feel that I slandered them and felt that I was rushing to their lawyers, they are free to go to court.”
The sports commission confirmed that a draft report was circulating, but urged stakeholders and the public ‘to exercise reasonable caution before drawing conclusions at this stage on the basis of an unofficial document’ .
But a press release from Harare lawyer Admire Rubaya, who represents former ZIFA board members, has desperately sought to cloud the findings of the impending audit report.
Sources said that ZIFA could have been harmed in excess of US$2 million by some board members led by Kamambo.
“It has been brought to the attention of our clients, Messrs. F. Kamambo, P. Machana, S. Chapeta, B. Malandule and J. Mamutse, all ‘suspended’ from the SRC, that an alleged unsigned ‘The draft forensic audit report on ZIFA’s financial transactions is circulating in various media spaces, especially on social media,’ Rubaya wrote in a six-page statement.
Former ZIFA board members, in their desperation, alleged that Sithole, whom they mistakenly called the vice chairman of ZIFA’s restructuring committee, may be behind the draft report circulating on social networks.
Sithole has since challenged them to prove the allegation.
“Our clients have seen numerous media reports, primarily from well-known state media critics, such as the Chronicle and the Herald, both under the Zimpapers stable chaired by Mr. Tommy Sithole, who is also Vice President of the ZIFA Restructuring Committee and also had sight. of the so-called draft forensic report, allegedly from BDO Zimbabwe.
“In addition, our customers have been made aware of the CBC’s press release on this subject. We would like to inform all individuals and sports authorities that our clients are eagerly awaiting receipt of the final audit report, to which they will respond after clearing all legal hurdles currently preventing them from commenting.
“This must be done using appropriate legal remedies against said auditors, BDO Zimbabwe and/or SRC, the ZIFA Restructuring Committee as well as the current unlawful ZIFA Board,” Rubaya said.
According to the draft report which has been making the rounds on social media, the findings of BDO Chartered Accountants revealed gross mismanagement in the way financial transactions were carried out.
The Sports Commission confirmed in a statement that “there are certainly very significant sums of money received by ZIFA which cannot be counted during the review period from December 1, 2018 to November 30, 2021”.
Sports Committee Chairman Gerald Mlotshwa, however, urged stakeholders to exercise caution before drawing conclusions at this stage based on an unofficial document.
“The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) has been made aware, following various media inquiries seeking its comment on the matter, that a draft forensic audit report is circulating in the public domain.
“SRC wishes to inform the public that auditors engaged for the company have made separate presentations to the Restructuring Committee as well as to the Commission of their detailed preliminary findings regarding the financial affairs of ZIFA.
“There are certainly very large sums of money received by ZIFA that cannot be accounted for during the review period from December 1, 2018 to November 30, 2021.
“The auditors have not signed the forensic audit report. They will do so shortly. ZIFA’s audit report, once formally and procedurally presented to the restructuring committee that commissioned it, is ultimately intended to be reviewed by ZIFA members at their general meeting scheduled for the end of October 2022.
“As a result, we advise stakeholders and the public to exercise reasonable caution before drawing any conclusions at this stage based on any unofficial material,” the Sports Commission statement read.