Highlanders board survives ouster
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Highlanders' bona fide members had been eagerly awaiting the outcome of the forensic audit carried out by Grant Thornton auditors which revealed that there were financial irregularities at the club which were caused by lack of proper accounting systems at the club.
The auditors did the forensic audit in September last year, submitted their report to the executive who in turn forwarded it to the board of directors.
This was after Nkomo had taken $6 000 from revenue generated from Highlanders' 1-1 league draw against Dynamos.
In his report read by Mgcini Nkolomi, the board chairman Dumisani Sandi who missed the meeting as he is said to be out of the country said they instituted a forensic audit after Nkomo had "retrieved what he claimed to be a loan to the club."
"Midway through the season your board had to deal with a very unfortunate incident which involved the former executive treasurer — Odiel Nkomo. As members should now be aware, the man has since resigned from office. It all began as a case of insubordination on the part of Mr Nkomo when he disregarded an order given by his superior the executive chairman (Peter Dube) not to retrieve what he claimed to be a loan to the club. The issue degenerated into a misdemeanour after a similar order was repeated by me as board chairman as we both felt that the action was unprocedural.
"…A forensic audit was commissioned resulting in invaluable information being released including measures designed to detect any misdemeanours. However, the audit was non-committal as to whether or not club funds had been embezzled," reads part of the board chairman's report.
Omega Sibanda set the ball rolling when he asked about the absence of board chairman Sandi. He noted that Sandi missed last year's fundraising activity, the extraordinary general meeting, the players' awards night and yesterday's annual general meeting.
"Where is the board chairman because it seems he is not available to give us answers. Right now we have important issues that we need answered but he is not here. Is he ever there when you have meetings throughout the year? Members want to know and the general feeling is that you are failing to deal with important issues evidenced by your failure to deal with this Odiel issue," said Sibanda.
Nkolomi tried to defend the board and said they were the ones who had instituted the forensic audit.
Another member identified as Nkululeko Fuzwayo put the board into a corner wanting to know whether Nkomo committed fraud.
"The treasurer (Nkomo) has a right to answer back. To the board, please tell us, did Nkomo steal from the club or not? Let us not taint his name and drag it to the ground, did he steal or he just took his money?"
Responding to Fuzwayo, Nkolomi said: "The audit report revealed that there were many transactions which amounted to $80 000 owed to Nkomo's company. The audit report never said he stole the money or did not. The audit report is non-committal because of the nature of our system. As a board we accepted the auditor's report and we will follow the recommendations that they made," said Nkolomi, much to the chagrin of members.
By then emotions from the floor were high, with members grumbling at the responses they got from the board.
There were others who were saying the board has failed and they must quit.
"Nxa kulinzimela badala, nxa inkabi idiniwe, akhona amajongosi," said Dingani Sibanda.
A member identified as Thwala reminded members that former board member Titus Ncube was frustrated out of the club after noting that Highlanders' financial systems were not in order.
"Titus Ncube told you that there were no systems. We have no confidence in the board. You are not doing your job and we have lost faith in the board," Thwala said.
His contribution was met with a resounding applause from the members.
Others were heard from the floor grumbling suspecting that Nkomo might have had a hand in the China replica shirts deal which went sour.
Israel Moyo, who lost to Nkomo in the 2010 elections, was also furious that the suggestions that were made at the AGMs were not taken seriously.
"The system allows perpetration of fraud and we spoke about this long back but nothing was done. If these issues were raised and ignored, then we are insulting people who want to help the club. We may not be qualified to deal about this (fraudulent activities) but the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) are qualified and there is also the CID fraud. Why don't you engage these people. I am beginning to think that there has been an unholy alliance that prevented this matter (Odiel's issue) from being dealt with accordingly," said Moyo.
George Dube concurred with Moyo and said that after former club chairman Ernest "Maphepha" Sibanda misappropriated funds from the sale of Obadiah Tarumbwa, members agreed that in case of similar offences, that person should be reported to the police.
The Highlanders disciplinary committee suspended Sibanda for three years for that offence and he was required to pay back that money.
"Badala, litshaya inja lifihla umphini. Maphepha was suspended from the club because he had taken $3 000 from Highlanders coffers. Now Odiel decides to ‘pay' himself and you say he must resign. Isn't it we agreed that whoever dips his fingers into club coffers would be taken to the police?
"Please board, I think you are hiding the truth, tell us the truth before we tell you to get out,"said George.
Another member asked, "How much did Odiel take?. How much has been recovered and what measures have you done to recover what he owes? What have you done as a board seeing that there are loopholes? We are beginning to think that if someone you like in the executive does something wrong like what Nkomo did, you let them go scot-free."
Having spent much time debating on the Nkomo saga, the secretary Andrew Tapela's calls for adoption of the board chairman's report were met with resistance.
With matters seemingly headed for the worst, the executive chairman Peter Dube saved the situation and the board in particular as he intervened and responded to their questions which were directed to the board.
"It is painful but nice to see that you are concerned about your club. It was after the Dynamos game that the treasurer took his money and bayatsho abadala ukuthi wayithatha. There were anomalies in the way that funds came and left the club. Our system left us prone to fraud but we are happy with the step that we have taken and we learnt to accept the outcome," Peter said.
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