ZIMBABWE Football Association (Zifa) president Philip Chiyangwa has threatened to buy The Standard and close it down after the weekly publication exposed the rot and lack of good governance at the local football governing body.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE/MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
The flamboyant property mogul and self-acclaimed “king of selfies” told a media conference at his office-turned-local football federation headquarters that he would buy The Standard — owned by Alpha Media Holdings — and shut it down as a way of dealing with the journalists who have exposed the rot in his administration.
“Anybody who chose to fight me, I will fight them back. I made money specifically to defend myself and my family, especially these broke newspapers. I will buy it and shut it down, I Phidza,” Chiyangwa said.
In the past months, Chiyangwa has been exposed for having improperly moved the association from its headquarters in town to his private premises — in violation of Fifa statutes and he has engaged people linked to his private enterprises to Zifa affairs, exposing the association to conflicted management.
The press conference, which was meant for clarification of how much Zifa has received from Fifa in grants since 2016, was turned into a platform to attack journalists from The Standard, accusing them of corruption — although no evidence was tabled to substantiate the claims.
“A bribe-taking journalist writes money is missing at Zifa. Is it your mother’s money? Did you ever see the money in question?” Chiyangwa rhetorically asked, despite having been offered an opportunity to respond by this publication before the issue was published. Instead, he chose to insult the reporter, calling him a nuisance.
The Standard had sought a comment from the Zifa boss for him to clarify on how the funding had been used, amid complaints from women’s football authorities as their league is currently in disarray.
The story which was headlined Zifa mum on Fifa funds stated that the association had been given close to $2 million for operations, pitch development, women football and employment of a secretary-general.
In his address, Chiyangwa only confirmed that his association had received $851 000 since 2016, which Fifa had indicated was for operations and administration and not women football as well as pitch development.
Also, Chiyangwa was not happy with the publication of a report that he had failed to settle the debt — mostly inherited from his predecessor, Cuthbert Dube.
The Zifa boss blamed the Dube administration of corruption and said he was the football messiah as he was frequently donating to the association and getting a minimal fee in rentals for the use of his premises.
“I took over in 2015 and there is no one who is owed money. We don’t owe either a creditor; we don’t owe staff. We have worked around what we can afford here and when there is no money, I put my own money. Not a loan because I am into this to make it successful,” he said.
“That’s what [why] [sic] I donate money extensively, my time also. I am not paid by Zifa but they operate from my own premises with minimal rentals while at the same time I am donating money, which means I am benefitting absolutely nothing.
“I don’t want a situation where somebody begins to create a story to say there is a problem when there is no problem. I was called by my vice-president [Omega Sibanda] telling me to tune in to Soccer Africa on Supersport, whom I am suing; these ones I won’t forgive because South Africa is a wealthy economy. I want to sue them heavly for lying. They cannot go about peddling falsehoods, which are manufactured here by bribe-taking journalists,” Chiyangwa fumed.
“I have no time for games. I am a serious person because I am dealing with the international community, the world outside there while you continue to rumble. I am vice-president of Caf while you are watching. I will be occupying a Fifa office soon and enjoying myself while you continue to write bad about me,” he charged.