15 August 2012

Zimbabwe: Education Funds Diverted to Pay Zifa's Lodge Debt

The Minister of Education, Sport and Culture David Coltart, has revealed that $90,000 from the education budget was recently diverted to bail out the country's football association, ZIFA, who owed the money to Pandari Lodge.

Newsday newspaper had written an editorial blaming Minister Coltart and the Sport and Recreation Commission (SRC) for the failure by the Young Warriors football team to travel to Angola. The team had no money for the airfare.

In his response to Newsday Coltart said it is not the responsibility of his ministry to provide airfare for ZIFA, which is an independent organisation.

Regarding the diverted funds, Coltart said: "It is intolerable that a sport which should be self financing such as Football, is in such a chaotic state that funds we can ill afford to divert from Education and other sports, have to be spent in this manner bailing out ZIFA."

Asked why he would pay off ZIFA's debt to a lodge, Minister Coltart told SW Radio Africa that he only learned that the money had been given to them, when he returned to Zimbabwe from the Olympics on Tuesday.

"I am told that ZIFA property had been attached following a debt owed to some lodge in Harare. I am waiting to meet with the permanent secretary to find out why this was done," Coltart explained. He added that he was deeply concerned that the money was used to pay off a hotel debt, rather than buy footballs or other equipment.

"I recognize government has a responsibility to help football and other sports. I have no objection in principle because football is very important in Zimbabwe," the Minister said.

The fact that Coltart was not advised of the ZIFA debt before the money was diverted exposes the chaos within the coalition government itself, with ZANU PF officials continuing to make unilateral decisions without consulting their partners in the coalition. The Deputy Minister for Education is ZANU PF's Lazarus Dokora and the Permanent Secretary is Constance Chigwamba, also from ZANU PF.

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