Bikita Minerals case:  ZIFA make U-turn Yvonne Manwa

Petros Kausiyo Sports Editor

JUST when they thought there would be light at the end of the tunnel and that they would kick-start the 2024 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season with the rest of the top-flight sides, Bikita Minerals remain frozen out following delays by ZIFA in determining their status.

In fact, the ZIFA Normalisation Committee have made an unprecedented U-turn on the matter and have now hauled the Eastern Region Soccer League (ERSL) board into the dock to answer to allegations of incompetence.

ZIFA, who late last month had referred the case to an Appeals Committee, have made an about turn, and have now tasked a prosecutor to sit as a disciplinary committee to try the ERSL board for allegedly not considering a complaint by Tenax to be factored in as an interested party in the dispute involving Bikita and Grayham.

It is a rare move by the Normalisation Committee to put on trial a member of the ZIFA Congress who in terms of the association’s constitution should be dealt with by the assembly.

But in the latest of a string of controversial decisions by the Normalisation Committee, they appear to have already convicted ESRL chairman Davison Muchena, his deputy Wisdom Simba and their board well before today’s hearing.

While the summons to today’s hearing cite Tenax as the complainant and the ERSL as the respondents, the charges suggest a different story.

ZIFA chief executive Yvonne Manwa, in her letter to the ERSL dated February 19, also indicated that Mutasa had flexed his muscles and waived the seven-day notice period for the summons.

“You are hereby invited to attend a disciplinary hearing arising from complaints/ grievances raised by Tenax Football Cub, one of your members, and a disciplinary hearing shall be held on Saturday 24th February 2024 at ZIFA head office at 10.30hrs.

“Please note that in terms of rule 4.4 of the ZIFA disciplinary rules and regulations, you are ordinarily entitled to 7 days’ notice. However, the chairperson by virtue of the power vested in him in terms of section 4.7.4 and 4.7.1 has directed that the 7 days’ notice be abridged due to the urgency of the matter,’’ wrote Manwa.

Curiously, in the summons, Bikita — who thought they had done enough to be seal the ERSL promotion into the Premiership — have virtually been sidelined.

Instead, the ambitious lithium miners have been made to continue with their anxious wait to know if they will play in the Premiership following delays emanating from the belated intervention of the Normalisation Committee on the matter.

Bikita were awarded points for their final league game against Grayham, after playing under protest and successfully appealing against the use of an ineligible player by their opponents.

But the decision taken by the ERSL’s disciplinary committee did not sit well with eventual runners-up Tenax, who took the matter up with the Normalisation Committee.

Initially, Lincoln Mutasa’s leadership had set an Appeals Committee to preside over the case before noting their boob in starting a fresh case at an appeal stage.

They have now summoned the ESRL board to come for a disciplinary hearing to answer to charges of ignoring a complaint from Tenax in their determination of the Division One champions.

An analysis of the charge sheet outlined by ZIFA prosecutor — Chipo Chichetu — suggests finality on the status of the ERSL champions is still a long shot.

“You the ERSL are hereby invited to answer to the charges set out hereunder:

  • Violating rule 16.1 of the ERSL Division One rules and article 55 of the ZIFA statutes in that you failed to appoint a disciplinary committee to deal with the problem that arose between Bikita Minerals and Grayham on the 18th November 2023
  • Violating ZIFA rules and regulations in that you failed to give notice of attendance to a hearing to determine the issue between Bikita Minerals and Grayham for the purpose of ensuring that parties adequately prepare and if need be, enlist the services of a legal practitioner for representation
  • Violating rule 4 of the ZIFA rules and regulations 2015 in that you failed to conduct a hearing in terms of ZIFA statutes to determine the above dispute
  • Violating, infringing Tenax Football Club’s administrative right to be heard and to be informed timeously of all decisions affecting it
  • Violating Article 2 proviso e and f of the ZIFA statutes in that you failed to observe and respect the objectives of ZIFA
  • Violating Article 32 of the FIFA rules and regulations in that you failed to uphold and maintain the spirit of independence and impartiality contemplated by the FIFA rules and regulations
  • Violating ZIFA statutes in that you failed to act reasonably and in a fair manner in your determination of the complaint by Tenax. This contravenes the objectives of ZIFA as set out in Article 2 of the ZIFA statutes,’’ read part of the long charge sheet.

Chichetu also accused the league of being “consequently liable for its failure to conduct the hearing’’.

“The conduct by the league of responding to Tenax way after a determination had been made and not awarding the team opportunity to be heard was grossly unreasonable and unfair,’’ added Chichetu.

ERSL vice-chairman Simba while confirming they would attend today’s hearing, maintained that his board was innocent.

“The decision we made was above board and guided by the Eastern Region Soccer League’s rules and regulations.

“We believe that someone is misleading the Normalisation Committee on this matter hence it has had a lot of procedural flaws.

“We feel that ZIFA have become the complainant through their prosecutor,’’ argued Simba.

As ZIFA continue to drag their feet on the case, the PSL would have to wait much longer to welcome the last of the Division One leagues’ champions.

PSL have already inducted Chegutu Pirates, TelOne and Arenel after their confirmation as Northern, Central and Southern Region champions.

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