Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
A MESSY five-year battle — which sucked in three ZIFA presidents, rumbled in the courts, dragged a leading bank into the drama, resulted in a luxury bus donated by SAFA being attached and had a hand in the chaos which rocked the Warriors camp in Egypt — finally ended yesterday.
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Daisy Lodge, who have been battling to be paid their dues in foreign currency after ZIFA ran a $161 000 bill after the Warriors camped at the complex in 2014, had no case against the association which settled that debt, in full, in February this year.
ZIFA paid 195 000 in RTGS dollars in February this year to cover what the association said was the full amount they owed, including the money due to Daisy Lodge plus interest, and other costs related to the case.
Officials at the country’s football controlling body, and their legal representatives — Ngarava, Moyo and Chikono Legal Practitioners — argued that at the time the payment was done, the rate of the RTGS dollar and the United States dollar was at par and the settlement cleared the debt.
However, the owners of Daisy Lodge challenged that settlement package and insisted they had to be paid in foreign currency and this sparked a legal battle which finally spilled into the Supreme Court which ruled yesterday that ZIFA had fully serviced their debt in February.
‘‘The judgment from the Supreme Court is that this lodge was paid in full by ZIFA and, therefore, the attachment of the foreign currency account of ZIFA by Daisy Lodge should be set aside,’’ ZIFA lawyer, Chenaimoyo Gumiro of Ngarava,Moyo and Chikono Legal Practitioners, told The Herald yesterday.
‘‘This related to the $161 000 debt which ZIFA accrued before the current executive came into office.
‘‘ZIFA paid the whole amount in February this year, that is $195 000, in RTGS dollars, and this included interest and execution costs.
‘‘But, Daisy Lodge wanted payment in United States dollars and they managed to attach the foreign currency accounts of ZIFA. Our argument was that on 11 February this year, there was no interbank rate and the RTGS value was one to one to the United States dollar.
‘‘We said the payment that was done satisfied the US dollar value which Daisy Lodge were demanding and this has been confirmed by the Supreme Court.’’
Gumiro said the ZIFA foreign currency accounts were attached just before the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt and the association could not access some of the funds they needed to use for that mission.
ZIFA acting vice-president, Philemon Machana, confirmed the developments yesterday.
‘‘Yes, we have just won our case against Daisy Lodge at the Supreme Court,’’ he said.
‘‘The court ruled that Daisy Lodge were paid their dues in fill and have no claim against ZIFA anymore.
‘‘Our bankers, in this case, acted correctly and legally.’’
Gumiro said there were still two outstanding cases, one involving the association’s former workers, and the other involving ex-ZIFA senior administration officer, Lazarus Mhurushomana.
‘‘We are trying to discuss Mhurushomana’s case and the other related to the former workers is still at the High Court,’’ said Gumiro.
Machana also confirmed the two cases were outstanding but the relief from the Supreme Court was significant.
‘‘Yes, those two cases are outstanding but I think you can see from the one related to the Daisy Lodge that there is a similarity to the cases.’’
The Daisy Lodge case has been weighing heavily down on ZIFA.
Three ZIFA presidents — Cuthbert Dube, Philip Chiyangwa and Felton Kamambo — have found themselves having to deal with the long-running case.
At one stage, a luxury Hyundai bus, which ZIFA received from SAFA as part of the 2010 World Cup legacy, was attached because of that debt.
Then, the association’s bankers were also dragged to court accused of allowing ZIFA to access their funds from accounts that were supposed to have been garnished because of this case.
The ZIFA officials cried foul, during the 2019 AFCON finals, when they said their operations were immobilised as they could not access some of the funds which they wanted to use to pay the players and technical staff.
Chaos kept slamming the Warriors camp, during that adventure, with the players repeatedly going on strike as they demanded their dues.
This week, Machana revealed they have a bill of close to US$200 000 to foot the opening fixtures of the 2021 AFCON campaign against Botswana and Zambia.
The matches are set to be played in a space of four days.
The Warriors are set to go into camp next Monday ahead of the home game against Botswana at the National Sports Stadium next Friday evening.
They will then take on Zambia four days later in an away fixture.
“What I can only say is that it’s very expensive to host back-to-back games of this kind,’’ said Machana.
“Imagine up to 70-80 percent of our players called for this game are coming from outside the country and that would mean they have to be flown in.
“From the quotation that we have, we would need something like US$4 700 to bring in one player from Europe, inclusive of the airfares and accommodation for the duration of the two games.
“The association needs about US$80 000 to travel with the whole team to Zambia and this includes accommodation.
“This figure also covers the air tickets for the referees and payment of the match commissioner for the home game.
“Then we will need camping for the two games. We need transport and the allowances for the players, among many other things, yet the economy is screaming like this.
“And we still have people (ZIFA creditors) coming after our accounts every time we have these games. For now it seems like we are on our own in this. We have been knocking on the doors of both the Government and private sector.’’