By Nigel Matongorere
HARARE – UNDER-fire Castle Lager Premiership side CAPS United have lost the labour dispute involving seven of their players.
Labour Court Independent Arbitrator Kenneth Nhongo presided over the case involving the Green Machine against Kenneth Bulaji, Dominic Chungwa, Dominic Mukandi, Stephen Makatuka, Tafadzwa Dube, Tendai Samanja and Ronald Pfumbidzayi.
Nhongo ruled in favour of the septet and ordered the cash-strapped Harare-based side to pay the players their outstanding salaries, signing-on fees and winning bonuses totalling $59 100.
The award is registerable with the High Court which gives the players a legal right to attach CAPS’ moveable assets to recover their money.
In the event that there are no assets, the players can go after the clubs franchise or they will be granted a garnishing order to recover their money from the club’s home gate-takings.
The players were represented by the Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Fuz) president Desmond Maringwa and secretary-general Paul Gundani while United were represented by their legal counsellors from Chizengeya and Partners Legal Practitioners.
The matter had been dragging on since the end of last season and Nhongo this week finally brought the matter to bed.
The Labour Court official slammed the Makepekepe management for the way they treated the seven.
“It is important to mention that the manner in which Respondent (CAPS United) has treated its players is disconcerting and reprehensible and must be deprecated. Players sacrifice their limbs on the soccer pitch because it is a job for which they must be paid,” said Nhongo.
“Playing soccer is not for enjoyment. I am of the firm view that it is very wrong indeed and unacceptable for club owners and administrators not to pay the players what is, contractually, agreed by both parties.
“Respondent is to be ordered to pay each Claimant his outstanding salaries, bonuses and signing-on fees.”
At the height of the legal wrangle, Samanja, Bulaji and Dube all sealed moves away from CAPS as their contracts had expired at the end of December 2014.
Although Chungwa also still had a year left on his deal, he also sought a move away from the club and eventually joined Dynamos.
CAPS, through their CEO Joe Makuvire and former managing director Sean Lapin of Zing, a south African mobile application company that used to sponsor the club, tried to enter into out-of-court settlements with Samanja, Chungwa and Bulaji behind Fuz’s back.
“Respondent did not challenge the claims, initially, in the hope that it would reach out-of-court settlements with the Claimants. At the hearing of February 27, 2015, Chikumba, for Respondent requested a postponement in order to get full instructions from his client,” read the judgment.
“The lawyer said he had been informed that only three Claimants were involved and not seven, as he had later learnt. Tribunal; directed the parties to engage each other in order to try and find common ground.
“On 3rd March Messers Joe Makuvire — chief executive officer and Sean Lapin — general manager, attended the hearing on behalf of respondent.
“Lapin told Tribunal that he would only pay claimants if his signatures appeared on the agreement document. He also, had been informed that only three players were involved and not seven. Daily News