Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA Mashonaland West Province chairman Derrick Matapure appears to have torched a storm after he defied an Appeals Committee ruling over who should be promoted into the Northern Region Division One League from his area between Golden Valley and Chegutu Pirates.
There had been serious contention in the province over who were the legitimate winners of the Mashonaland West Division Two B League after the two sides’ decisive clash ended prematurely.
The matter was then referred to the disciplinary committee, which had ordered a replay but before the match could be played as directed, Pirates lodged a protest through the Appeals Committee, who then overturned the decision of the lower court and awarded them the game on a 3-0 score line.
With the top three teams having been tied on 76 points before the Appeals Committee ruling, it now means Pirates, who had been in third-place because of inferior goal difference before benefiting from the judgment, now leapfrog second-placed Makwiro Platinun and Golden Valley into top spot.
In terms of the judgment, Chegutu Pirates should now be declared the Mashonaland West Division Two winners and thus earn the sole ticket into Division One.
But Matapure stands accused of ignoring the ruling made by the Appeals Committee as well as a letter from ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze to the Northern Region, advising them to be guided by the judgment in registering the Mashonaland West winners in their Division One League.
In his letter to Northern Region administrator Andrew Javacha and which was also copied to ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa, regional chairman Willard Manyengavana and the association’s lawyer Ralph Maganga, Mashingaidze advised the region to follow the contents of the ruling.
“The ZIFA Appeals Committee set on 23 December 2015 and came up with a determination pertaining to the above matter. Please find hereto attached the judgment and be guided accordingly in terms of the enforcement of the judgment,’’ wrote Mashingaidze.
The Appeals Committee made up of High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi, Harare Deputy Mayor Chris Mbanga and lawyer Tich Garabga noted that the disciplinary committee “did not fully apply their mind to the facts of the dispute when they made their ruling’’.
“This is an appeal by Chegutu Pirates FC against a decision by the disciplinary committee, ZIFA Mashonaland West Province, ordering replay of a league match between the appellant and Golden Valley FC on November 28, 2015 at a neutral venue with both teams meeting the expenses of the match and security.
“The brief background facts are that the two teams had clashed in a league encounter at Pfupajena Stadium on August 8, 2015. The match was abandoned in the 85th minute with the appellant leading 1-0. The reason for the abandonment was that Golden Valley FC had only six players left on the field of play.
“The referee had sent off two of their players for violent conduct. Thereafter, their captain ordered his players not to return into the field of play. These facts are common cause.
“The appellant’s contention is that the disciplinary committee erred in their decision as referred to above as the correct decision in the circumstances ought to have been awarding the match to them on a 3-0 score.
“It is abundantly clear given the undisputed facts of this case that the disciplinary committee did not adequately apply their mind to them. In fact they did not at all. The result is a total misdirection.
“Accordingly, the appeal is allowed. The league match is awarded to the appellant on a 3-0 score line. Golden Valley are ordered to bear the costs of this appeal,’’ Chitapi’s committee said.
But in defiance of the Appeals Committee ruling, Matapure’s executive wrote to the Northern Region, advising them that it was Golden Valley who had won the championship and who should be promoted when in fact the three points and the 3-0 score line awarded to Chegutu Pirates helped lift them to the top of the log standings.
Mashingaidze also insisted that it was unconstitutional for executive committees to overturn rulings made by the judicial bodies of the association.
“Even FIFA are very clear about it that the executive committee cannot overturn a judgment that has been passed by a judicial body. For example even if the executive committee may have wanted Sepp Blatter to continue as FIFA president, they could not set aside what a judicial body of FIFA had ruled on.
“It is a similar scenario here. The Mashonaland West Province executive committee ought to respect and comply with the ruling made by a judicial body of ZIFA, which in this case is the Appeals Committee and hence my letter to the Northern Region administration to be guided by the judgment,’’ Mashingaidze said.
With the Appeals Committee having made clear who the winner of the disputed November 28 match is between Golden Valley and Chegutu Pirates, it remains to be seen whether the Northern Region administration will also be sucked into the controversy torched by Matapure and set a precedent where judgments are not followed to the letter and possibly brew lawlessness in the governance of the local game. It is also interesting that only goal difference had separated the three top teams before the ruling as the disputed match had been put on the initial log table — released on December 22 — as a drawn match.