‘ZIFA Running Away From Debtors’

‘ZIFA Running Away From Debtors’
Published: 2016 June 07 06:07:29 (1156 Views)
LEGAL experts say the local football leadership has plunged itself into a seemingly intractable quagmire over the rushed decision to announce the dissolution of Zifa and formation of the National Football Association of Zimbabwe (NFAZ) without following proper legal channels.

An extraordinary congress convened at Zifa Village on Saturday resolved to dissolve Zifa with effect from yesterday and the decisions were reportedly formally communicated to world football governing body Fifa, continental body Caf, regional body Cosafa and the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).

Premier Soccer League (PSL) chief executive Kenny Ndebele was appointed general secretary of NFAZ, while the executive committee comprises Philip Chiyangwa as president, Omega Sibanda as first vice-president and PSL chairman Peter Dube as second vice-president in charge of the PSL. Other members are Philemon Machana, Piraishe Mabhena, Felton Kamambo, Beaula Msara; the four regional presidents are Musa Mandaza, Stanley Chapeta, Davison Muchena and Willard Manyengavana.

However, lawyers that spoke to a local publication yesterday said the move was fraught with a number of flaws and legal nullities that could not stand in the courts.

“Firstly, we hear that they immediately held elections after dissolving Zifa. Did they have a constitution? Did the councillors see the constitution that governs NFAZ? Councillors represent affiliates and the affiliates elected them using the Zifa constitution and not NFAZ’s constitution,” said one lawyer, who chose to remain anonymous.

“What should be done in a proper situation in terms of elections is that they start by having them at lower levels going up to national level. Besides, seeing that these are the same people who dissolved Zifa, it can be legally argued that they don’t have moral ground to lead a new association having failed the one they dissolved. They’re the same people who were in office when Zifa was declared insolvent and on what grounds can we expect them to be the right people to lead our football?”

He said Zifa was being sued by a number of debtors and dissolving it was not the way out as the cases are before the courts, which are the only ones that can make a binding ruling on the status of the association at this point in time.

“When you’re being sued and you dissolve your organisation, it’s some form of liquidation and only the court can do that, not a Zifa assembly,” said the lawyer.

He said the legal standing of NFAZ was on shaky ground because it was not even on the agenda of the Zifa extraordinary meeting on Saturday and councillors were forced to vote for a new association whose constitution they did not and have still not seen.

“You need a proper notice for such a crucial decision so that those opposed to it can file their objections. Worse still, some of the affiliates that voted for the resolution aren’t in good standing and their participation was in violation of the Zifa constitution.

“There should be a period of 90 days after dissolution of an organisation like Zifa with an interim leadership before elections are held, so you can see that their approach was rather simplistic in this case,” said the lawyer.

Life bans were handed to former Zifa CEO Henrietta Rushwaya and Jonathan Musavengana for their alleged involvement in the match fixing scandal that rocked local football just before the Warriors’ away Afcon qualifier against Swaziland. Edzai Kasinauyo and Ian Gorowa were handed 10-year bans, while Nation Dube received a five-year ban for their implication in the same scandal.

The lawyer said these bans would fall away if Zifa is dissolved, which shows that Saturday’s meeting was mired in confusion.

A football official familiar with the matter said Zifa was dissolved in terms of Article 77 of the Zifa constitution and deregistered under the SRC Act.

Zifa is saddled with debts of over $7 million and had been operating without a bank account for fear of losing the little they collected from gate takings involving Warriors’ matches, six percent from PSL gate takings, affiliation fees and levies, and from time to time “sponsorship” from benefactors.

Dissolving Zifa is a way of rebranding and untangling the association from the huge debts presently choking it.

The official said the suggestion to dissolve Zifa was first made by Fifa to the Cuthbert Dube-led executive to enable the association to start on a clean slate since it was being weighed down by massive debt.

Fifa, the official revealed, promised to be guarantors of the new association as long as Zifa’s dissolution was done in accordance with Zimbabwe’s laws.

He said Fifa had been frustrated that money it released to Zifa under the annual Financial Assistance Programme meant for development was being seized by debtors.

“Zifa is not being liquidated, but being dissolved since it’s not a company. A trustee will deal with the debtors, who will be paid from assets owned by Zifa,” said the official.

“A lot of ground has been covered from a footballing perspective and only legal aspects are left.”

However, Bulawayo-based lawyer Tanaka Muganyi said the problem was that Zifa is trying to rebrand by destroying history and it would just need debtors to prove that the formation of the NFAZ was to avoid repayment of debt.

“There’s no way you can sue a newly constituted body, unless you can prove that its formation was to avoid repayment of debt. The problem is that it’s the same people (leading NFAZ) under a different name, but they’re bound by the contracts they signed,” Muganyi said.

- Chronicle
Tags: ZIFA, Chiyangwa, NFAZ, ,
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