Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
A Harare law firm Maganga and Partners Legal Practitioners, which represented the Zimbabwe Football Association in its legal dispute with two former national team coaches is suing the Minister of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Makhosini Hlongwane over unpaid legal fees worth $17 800. The lawyers were instructed to file appeals with the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport when ZIFA was trying to fend off suits from ex-coaches Tom Sainfeit and Jose Valinhos Geoghini.
Minister Hlongwane is understood to be the one who instructed the law firm to defend ZIFA. A senior partner with the law firm, Mr Raphael Maganga, reportedly travelled to Switzerland in October 2015 on the instructions from the ministry. He later billed the ministry $17 800 for the services. The law firm decided to approach the High Court this week after Government failed to settle the debt. Minister Hlongwane was cited as a defendant in his official capacity. In the summons, Maganga and Partners argued that it offered the legal services, but the client had refused or failed to settle the bill.
“Early in October 2015, the defendant, Honourable Makhosini Hlongwane, instructed plaintiff (duly represented by its senior partner Raphael Maganga) to mount appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland in matters of Tom Sanfeit versus ZIFA and Jose Valinhos Geoghini versus ZIFA,” reads the plaintiff’s declaration. Plaintiff, in conjunction with the defendant’s chief legal adviser Mr Mabhena and a representative from the Attorney-General’s Office, Mrs Hove, did proceed to Zurich, Switzerland from October 17 to October 21, 2015 where the appeals were lodged with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.” In terms of Section 6 of the State Liabilities Act Chapter 8:14, the lawyers properly notified the minister of their intention to sue.
“Due notice was given on March 1, 2016 and was duly acknowledged by the defendant, The defendant has no right to refuse to pay for professional services rendered by the plaintiff in the manner it is doing or at all” the lawyers said. Minister Hlongwane is yet to respond to the claim.