Trial of suspended Zifa bosses opens Felton Kamambo

Nyore Madzianike Senior Court Reporter

THE trial of suspended Zimbabwe Football Association executives accused of misappropriating their organisation’s letterheads after they were suspended from all Zifa operations opened yesterday.

The five deny the charges, saying the Sports and Recreation Commission concocted the allegations to sway political leaders and members of the public and divert attention from real issues that might result in the country being banned from participating in international football competitions.

Felton Kamambo, Phillemon Machana, Stanely Chapeta, Joseph Mamutse and Bryton Brighton Malandule also told the court the SRC board wanted the country to believe that the ban would be as a result of Government interference with the ZIFA administration, not because of lack of proper stadiums that meet FIFA standards.

They are charged with fraud.

In their defence prepared by lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, the five said: “The accused persons assert that the SRC has concocted these allegations simply because they want the country to be banned from playing football on the basis of interfering with the ZIFA administration instead of being banned on the basis of the lack of proper stadiums in the country.

“The SRC board wants to use these allegations as a diversionary tactic so that they can save face that there is virtually no infrastructure or stadiums which meets the FIFA standards.

“Those who seek to control football in Zimbabwe and have a ‘big brother mentality’ are the ones concocting and fabricating these malicious, frivolous and vexatious allegations in a bid to try and convince the political leadership that the ZIFA executive committee led by Felton Kamambo is the worst, yet it is the best which took the nation to three Africa Cup of Nations in a row.”

They also claimed that the SRC board chairperson raised the allegations as revenge against Machana, who he believes caused his arrest sometime in 2004.

In their defence, they expressed surprise as to how Mamutse was arrested as he was not a member of the ZIFA board.

“Thus, the charge preferred against him has not linked him to the gravamen of the offence since it cannot be alleged that he was one of the members of ZIFA executive committee, for he has never been one,” he said.

The five claimed that SRC was criminally abusing its office, as it did not have the mandate to suspend them.

Kamambo and his accomplice claim that their suspension was null and void, as it has not been accepted by Confederation of African Football (CAF).

“This has resulted in Zimbabwe being suspended from playing international football rendering the local premier league just a boozer’s league where winners of the local Premier Soccer League cannot play in the CAF champions league, CAF Confederations cup whilst the national teams cannot participate in the COSAFA Tournament, CHAN Tournament, Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup,” he said.

The five also claimed that their suspension by the SRC was not communicated to the ZIFA executive committee members since there was no letter addressed to any of them communicating the suspension.

They claimed that they were not given an opportunity to make adequate representations or adequate notice to explain themselves before the said suspension.

The trial is expected to continue on March 10 with the SRC acting director general Mr Sebastian Garikayi testifying.

Magistrate Mr Taurai Manwere presided, while Mr Oscar Madhume appeared for the State.

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