Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THE Sports and Recreation Commission yesterday warned the rebellious ZIFA board members they risk facing severe consequences if they go ahead with their plans to defy the suspension imposed by the country’s sports regulator.
The ZIFA leadership, who were suspended last month over governance issues, had issued a statement claiming they have resumed duties, after noting an appeal against the suspension, with the Administrative Court.
Through their legal advisors, the suspended ZIFA board members said the noting of the appeal would allow them to resume their functions, until a final determination, at the courts.
The association’s chief executive, Joseph Mamutse, who was suspended last year, had also returned into his office.
However, the Sports Commission responded to the ZIFA legal advisers, Moyo, Chikono & Gumiro, advising them their clients remained suspended.
This rendered the board meeting, held on Thursday night, illegal.
SRC acting director general, Sebastian Garikai, said the suspended ZIFA board members and their lawyers had misdirected themselves in thinking that the noting of an appeal, at the Administrative Court, would automatically lead to the setting aside of the suspensions.
“Your letter dated 3rd December, 2021 refers. Whilst a so-called ‘appeal’ has been noted in terms of Section 32 of the SRC Act, kindly note that this action does not have the effect of suspending the decision of the SRC to suspend the entire ZIFA Board.
“Indeed, it is for this reason that the general secretary of ZIFA (Mamutse) remains suspended to this day, notwithstanding his own ‘appeal’ to the same Administrative Court, just under a year ago.
“For your information, and further research, we refer you to these various authorities to the effect that your ‘clients’ ‘appeal’ requires further relief, in the form of an interdict from the High Court, in order that this ‘appeal’ is deemed to suspend the decision of the SRC, pending the outcome of the administrative court proceedings:
Milmath Security (Private) Limited v Tabatana Mining Syndicate & Ors HH480/18
John Makarudze & Anor v Cosmos Bungu & Ors HH08/15
Longman Zimbabwe (Private) Limited v J Midzi & Others HH16/06
To quote Garwe JA in Longman Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd v Midzi & Ors: “The position may now be accepted as settled in this jurisdiction that unless empowered by law to do so, an inferior court, tribunal or other authority has no power to order the suspension of its own orders or judgments and, further, that the noting of an appeal against the judgment or order of such a court, tribunal or authority, in the absence of a statutory provision to that effect, does not have the effect of suspending the operation of the judgment or order that is sought to be appealed against.’
“The SRC is an ‘authority’ for the purposes of these provisions.’’
Garikai challenged the ZIFA legal advisors to desist from fanning the tensions by advising their clients to rebel against authority.
“We further note that you do not have express written instructions to represent ZIFA or indeed some of the suspended ZIFA board members.
“It would help immensely if you could clarify exactly, in writing, whom of the suspended directors you purport to represent in these flawed proceedings, and attach in such confirmation, a power of attorney signed by each of these directors giving you authority to act on their behalf, or indeed, issue statements on behalf of ZIFA or them.
“Lastly, and we are emphatic in this respect, the ZIFA directors and the General Secretary (Mamutse) remain suspended until and unless the SRC either revokes that suspension or a court of law having final jurisdiction in the matter, sets it aside.
“Your clients, whoever they might be, will face severe consequences should they try and exercise any authority over ZIFA following their respective suspensions. Please be guided accordingly,” wrote Garikai.
The Sports Commission wielded the axe on the board on November 16, in terms of Section 30 (i) (c) of the SRC Act, citing a litany of charges that included mismanagement and lack of accountability in the use of public funds, with specific reference to how public funds were spent during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
The suspended ZIFA executive committee led by their president Felton Kamambo have been fighting the suspension.
The other members affected by the Sports Commission decision are Philemon Machana, Bryton Malandule, Sugar Chagonda, Stanley Chapeta, Farai Jere and Barbra Chikosi.
However, the suspended ZIFA board members had forced their way back in office and were already putting in place plans for the appointment of the Warriors coach this weekend to prepare for the AFCON tournament set for Cameroon next month.
They held a board meeting on Thursday despite the suspension hanging over them.
Their lawyers had instructed them that the noting of the appeal at the Administrative Court would set aside the Sports Commission decision.
ZIFA outlined their course of action in a communiqué released yesterday.
“ZIFA would like to inform the nation that following the suspension by the Sport and Recreation Commission almost two weeks ago, the ZIFA board after extensive consultations instituted an appeal with the administrative court in line with provision of section 32 of the SRC Act which provides for appeal by an aggrieved part to any decision by the SRC.
“The nation and the world must know that this application was informed by the need to utilise available local legal remedies for the prime purpose of clearing the names of the board members which have been unfairly soiled as a result of the suspension which according to the SRC was informed by a litany of allegations chief among them failure to respond to 2019 Afcon enquiry letter and abuse of public funds.
“The legal effect of the appeal is to among other things immediately suspend the decision by the SRC to suspend the ZIFA board meaning the ZIFA board is fully back by operation of law pending the finalisation of the matter by the administrative court,” said the statement.
The ousted members said after their discredited board meeting that they needed to put in place preparations for the AFCON tournament, which is now five weeks away.
ZIFA said in their communiqué that they will appoint the Warriors coach this weekend. Zimbabwe have had no coach since the expiry of Norman Mapeza’s short term contract as interim gaffer last month.
The Warriors are part of the 24 finalists at the continental football jamboree set for Cameroon. Zimbabwe are in Group B along with Senegal, Guinea and Malawi. They are scheduled to play their first game on January 10 against Senegal.
“Bringing back AFCON preparations back on track taking cognisance of limited time before January 2022. As such the board resolved to immediately engage the targeted coaches and conclude such engagements within two days.
“Two board members and the CEO were tasked with this obligation. Immediately after coach appointment, the coach and members of the technical team together with ZIFA secretariat are tasked with sending player invites, arrange for training camp, friendlies.
“The Board is also to immediately reengage valued stakeholders regarding its fundraising initiatives to partner the team in its 2022 Cameron AFCON sojourn.”
The board also confirmed the plans to lure midfielder Khama Billiat out of retirement and play at the AFCON tournament.