Eddie Chikamhi-Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA have approached the Administrative Court to formally challenge the decision by the Sports and Recreation Commission to suspend the association’s executive committee.
The Notice of Appeal was filed by Moyo, Chikono and Gumiro legal practitioners on Wednesday in terms of Section 32 of the SRC Act, which provides for aggrieved parties to seek recourse with the Administrative Court.
The ZIFA lawyers want the November 16 decision set aside as they feel it was in breach of the same SRC Act. However, some commentators have said that ZIFA have misdirected themselves in seeking to set aside the decision via the noting of the appeal.
“Section 32 of the Act doesn’t give ZIFA the power to appeal. They only have a right of review. Those are two different concepts at law.
“Ask any lawyer they will explain it. The “appeal” is dead in the water. It’s a nullity at law. They are better withdrawing it and filing an application for review.
“That’s why ZIFA will need to get a High Court order to suspend the SRC’s decision pending the outcome of the Administrative Court. They used the same section for (suspended chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse). And he remains suspended,” said the source.
The suspended ZIFA executive committee, led by their president Felton Kamambo, are the appellants in the matter.
The other members cited in the Notice of Appeal as appellants are board members Philemon Machana, Bryton Malandule, Sugar Chagonda, Stanley Chapeta, Farai Jere and Barbra Chikosi.
The Sports Commission wielded the axe on the ZIFA 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 Sports Commission said ZIFA did not respond to the request to account for the money and the circumstances surrounding the charter plane that carried the delegation to Egypt.
There are also allegations of how they sent national teams outside of Zimbabwe without Covid-19 clearances, the failure to act on serious allegations of sexual harassment of female referees, the lack of grassroots development and the “looming constitutional crisis within ZIFA viz pending elections.”
The move received support from the local football family. The matter is already being assessed by FIFA, who have been involved in a series of meetings with the Sports Commission on the way forward.
But the ZIFA lawyers have sought to reverse the suspension of the board.
They cited 10 points in their grounds of appeal, alleging that the Sports Commission breached the SRC Act when they came up with the decision last month.
“1. The decision of the Respondent is so outrageous in its defiance of logic more particularly in that it was reached at without according the other party an opportunity to be heard. The procedural irregularity is so gross that it amounts to a serious miscarriage of justice rendering the decision of the Respondent a legal nullity. It is tantamount to a ground of appeal as opposed to review.
“2. Respondent misdirected itself in failure to identify the national interest breached by the appellants. The Respondent can only act in accordance with Section 30 of the Act, in the event of breach of national interest. Respondent has failed to demonstrate the breach of national interest done by the appellants.
“3. The Respondent misdirected itself in failure to appreciate that the issues raised as reasons for suspension of the appellants were all addressed by the appellants to the Respondent in 2019.
“4. The Respondent erred in finding that appellants failed to provide the details as enumerated in the notice of suspension, whereas the requested details were accorded to the Respondent by appellants.
“5. The Respondent misdirected itself in dismissing the appellants. The decision of the Respondent is titled suspension but a reading of the letter clearly show that the appellant have been dismissed from office. The Respondent stated to the appellants that a committee is to be established leading to elections of new office bearers. As such, the Respondent dismissed the appellants from office.
“6.The Respondent erred at law in acting ultra vires the powers conferred to it by the Act. The Respondent does not have the authority or power to dismiss the office bearers of association.
“7. Respondent misdirected itself by making a decision in a matter after an inordinate delay, thereby breaching the provision of the constitution of Zimbabwe more particularly Section 68 thereof. Respondent
“8. The Respondent misdirected itself in finding the appellant guilty without having preferred a charge to the appellants. The Respondents did not serve the appellants with any charge prior to the decision made.
“9. The Respondent erred in finding the appellants guilty for contravention of Section 30 of the Act, whereas the said section is not an offence creating section.
The said section 30 of the Act is adjudicative in nature as opposed to investigative or offense creating.
“10. The Respondent erred in suspending all the appellants without making a finding of fact of the offenses created or committed by each appellant in their individual capacities,” said the ZIFA legal advisors in their notice of appeal.