Windhoek — Former Namibia Football Association (NFA) president Frans Mbidi yesterday distanced himself from mounting allegations that he and fellow Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) executive members maliciously pocketed thousands of dollars in allowances last year.
Mbidi, who is Cosafa's vice president, and Cosafa head Philip Chiyangwa of Zimbabwe, as well as the entire executive committee of the regional football governing body are at the center of headlines accusing them of having dishonestly pocketed over N$1.5 million in various allowances last year, at a time when Cosafa had posted a N$2.5 million loss.
Harare-based independent daily newspaper, the NewsDay, recently reported that a recent Cosafa audit report shows the executive members got N$1 429 400 in allowances last year, a massive increment from the N$857 064 they received in the previous year.
It is Chiyangwa, the NewsDay reports, who received a huge chunk of the money, as the Zimbabwean businessman-cum-football administrator allegedly took home a whopping N$301 150 in allowances, in addition to a N$580 000 payment he received as an "honorarium", the report further claimed.
An honorarium is a voluntary payment that is given to a person for services for which fees are not legally or traditionally required. It is a payment given for professional services that are rendered nominally without charge. The NewsDay broadsheet also alleged that Chiyangwa then claimed another N$19 696 from Cosafa in travel costs reimbursements.
The Zimbabwean newspaper also heavily placed Namibia's Mbidi on the spot, accusing the ejected former NFA president of having questionably pocketed over N$156 850 in travel and accommodation allowances last year.
Mbidi's fellow executive members Timothy Shongwe of Swaziland got N$147 390, while the other executive members, six of them to be precise, received just over N$100 000 travel and accommodation perks, it is reported. Contacted for comment yesterday, Mbidi leapt to his own defense, telling New Era Sport that the allegations are gibberish and baseless, because all money paid to him during the said period was duly earned and factually recorded in Cosafa's books.
"Last week, Cosafa held a congress in Johannesburg, South Africa, and all financial questions that were raised there were accurately answered, and all members that attended the gathering were indeed happy with Cosafa's books as presented to them at the congress. Those reports are baseless and out to tarnish people's names because what they (media reports) are claiming is not true at all. Cosafa financial books are open for all to scrutinise because we have nothing to hide to anyone. The money that they are claiming I and my fellow executive members dubiously pocketed is there in the Cosafa books for all to see; it is money that was owed to us. When we go on Cosafa missions, most of us put in unpaid leave at our respective workplaces, so that's why Cosafa pays us for the services rendered during that period. We have not claimed money that is not owed to us; we don't do that," said Mbidi as he distanced himself from the Cosafa money scandal.
-Additional reporting from www.newsday.co.zw