Robson Sharuko-Senior Sports Editor
THERE was a 22-month gap between the suspension of ZIFA vice-president, Gift Banda, and the subsequent imposition of similar sanctions on the association’s chief executive, Joseph Mamutse.
Banda spent barely a month on the ZIFA executive before he was suspended by his fellow board members in January 2019 for unilaterally changing the composition of the Warriors technical department.
Almost three years later, the Bulawayo businessman remains on the sidelines, locked out of the domestic football leadership, even though he apologised and, along the way, won a number of judicial battles to return to the fold.
Mamutse was suspended by the Sports Commission in November last year to pave way for an inquiry into how national teams were being cleared for international assignments in violation of the national Covid-19 regulations.
The SRC also felt Mamutse needed to answer questions over the expulsion of the Young Warriors from the Under-17 COSAFA tournament in South Africa on age-cheating allegations and the embarrassment which this caused to the nation.
On Tuesday, Mamutse flew to Cairo, Egypt, to represent ZIFA at the CAF Extraordinary General Assembly set for today.
ZIFA lawyer Chenaimoyo Gumiro launched a passionate defence of Mamutse’s controversial presence at the CAF EGA, given the SRC insist he remains suspended.
“The issue of Mamutse was thrashed out with the SRC long back,’’ Gumiro told The Herald. “We noted an appeal against the decision, of which we are entitled to, at law.
“What then this means is that after noting an appeal, the decision being appealed against is automatically set aside until a final determination is made.
“Under the labour laws, there is nothing that should stop Mamutse from conducting operations.
“We even wrote to the SRC when the appeal was made and they are aware of it.
“The labour law is quite clear on this matter but the SRC Act is silent, so we go with the labour law.’’
Clearly, Gumiro is convinced Mamutse is a bona-fide ZIFA representative at the CAF EGA, even though the association had all year been sending communication addressed by an acting chief executive.
ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, has been the acting chief executive as Mamutse fought his boardroom battles to bounce back into his job, with the association fighting on a number of fronts to get him back.
However, sources have already indicated that, all along, Mamutse had been reporting for duty, at the association’s headquarters, even though he wasn’t availing himself for public functions.
While Gumiro could be right that Mamutse, who went in the company of suspended ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo, has every right to exercise his functions, as the association’s chief executive, a number of questions have emerged.
Interestingly, Gumiro, finds himself at the centre of this drama.
Why were ZIFA seemingly so desperate to the extent of going on an offensive, including approaching the Administrative Court, for a quick resolution of Mamutse’s case, yet they didn’t show the same urgency, let alone interest, in the resolution of their vice-president’s case?
Why have the ZIFA board seemingly been reluctant to bring closure to the case of their vice-president, the only man who is empowered by their constitution to act as the association’s president, in the event that Kamambo either becomes incapacitated or is removed from office by the Assembly?
Why have the ZIFA board not seen any urgency to bring closure to the case of a leader in their football structures who garnered 37 of the 59 available votes from the councillors, in a huge show of their confidence in him, to be their deputy president?
Why have the ZIFA board not seen any need in three years of boardroom chaos to bring closure to a case in which the man who was voted into the second most powerful position on the executive, with an impressive 62,71 percent of the vote, remains on the sidelines three years down the line?
Are the ZIFA judicial structures, which have a number of lawyers who hear the cases, people who swore to uphold the principles of justice and understand that justice delayed is justice denied, become incompetent structures to such an extent they have become an insult to everything which justice stands for?
Do these legal experts, within these structures, suddenly find themselves being blinded from ensuring that justice must not only be done but must be seen to have been done, itself a very key requirement, in the execution of their duties, to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance?
Admittedly, Banda and Mamutse have different statuses within ZIFA, with one being a worker while the other is a board member, but shouldn’t the delivery of justice, when it comes to both men, be guided by the principles of Fair Play, which even FIFA preach on a daily basis?
Why should Mamutse be protected by conditions different from Banda when they sit on the same ZIFA executive committee and, for better or worse, collectively make decisions that have a profound influence on the state of football in this country?
If Mamutse’s sanctions, as Chenaimoyo argued on Wednesday, disappeared the moment he appealed against the SRC decision to suspend him, what about Banda, who has lodged appeal after appeal, without the case being exhausted, for the last three years?
If, for argument sake, his appeal also set aside the suspension imposed on him by his fellow board members, who themselves are not legal experts compared to the fellows found in the judicial structures, why is it that Banda was never invited to even one meeting, of the ZIFA executive, during the window when his sanctions were quashed?
Why should it be right for the ZIFA board, to pull all strings to ensure that Mamutse is brought back into the fold, within a year of his suspension, even if it means doing so in clandestine fashion, while they don’t believe there is something wrong with Banda spending three years, on the sidelines?
Is there something, beyond the issue of the changing of the coaches, who were reinstated to their positions, which has been pushing the ZIFA board to ensure that, no matter what, Banda should never be seen coming back into the fold and, doesn’t that add weight to suspicion he is being isolated for declaring he would call for a forensic audit?
It’s not Mamutse’s fault that he is in Cairo, some people told him he had a right to be there and, the only concern is that goalposts seemingly get shifted when other people, like Banda, are the ones who should be given such benefit of doubt.