THE Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) is feeling the heat as more affiliates are demanding the disbursements of the coronavirus (Covid-19) relief aid to be made in foreign currency.
This comes as the association is entitled to receive US$2,5 million from Fifa and Caf as a stimulus package to help the game stay afloat during the pandemic which has forced local football into hibernation since March.
Already, Zifa has received the first tranche of the payment and the association has began making payments to their affiliates after converting the money into local currency.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) was the first affiliate to raise a red flag over the local currency disbursements at a time Zimbabwe’s economy is in a hyperinflation state.
Zifa held an emergency meeting with top flight clubs last weekend where the association was told plainly that converting the relief aid into local currency was an infernal move when teams are struggling to remain afloat during the pandemic.
Latest figures released by ZimStat showed that inflation currently stands at 785 percent from May 2019 to May 2020. When Zifa announced the stimulus package, the local currency was trading at 1:63 against the US dollar on the official market and it has since increased to 1:72 this week.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela told the Daily News that the board will consider the requests from the affiliates if approached.
“We don’t have any complaints on the issue of currency on record. However, the president indicated that we have an open-door policy and we value our affiliates. Whatever is going to be presented to Zifa the executive is going to deliberate on it,” Gwesela said.
After receiving $1,6 million, Zifa Southern Region Division One chairperson Andrew Tapela said they would petition the association on the way forward.
“We received $1,6 million from the association last week and we have since started the process of disbursing the money,” Tapela told the Daily News yesterday.
“It’s not like we are happy to receive the money in local currency. We would have loved to get it in foreign currency but what do we do now? We would rather disburse the money while talking to the association to say this is what we feel should have been done or should be done in future.”
While Zifa Eastern Region chairperson Davison Muchena was unavailable for comment, clubs from the league held a meeting earlier this week to discuss the matter and roundly condemned the association.
“To allocate just $1,6 million for the entire region is a joke and as clubs we rejected the association’s offer as a whole,” said a club official, who attended the meeting.
“We have petitioned Zifa to give us the relief aid in US dollars so that the money will maintain its true value. Inflation will erode the value of money if we accept the aid in local currency.”
National Association of Secondary Schools Heads (Nash) president Arthur Maphosa also concurred with Tapela on the foreign currency issue. “We only read from the press that we will be getting money but there is no official communication yet from the association,” Maphosa told the Daily News.
“But all the same, if it’s true that they are giving us US$5 000, then it’s quite significant and we are grateful, surely.
“The money will go a long way in the development of the junior football. We will be even happy if we get the money in foreign currency so that it maintains its value.”
An official with a Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer League side told the Daily News that it was counterproductive to give clubs money in local currency when inflation figures are very high.
“It’s a tragedy I tell you. We were never consulted we just woke up with money in our accounts. The problem is that while we are working on the modalities on how we share the money, it’s losing value,” said the official. I don’t really understand the logic behind giving us money in local currency when they got the money in foreign currency.”