By Petros Kausiyo |The Herald|
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa has come out guns blazing and obtained a court order barring freelance photographer Lazarus Riva from troubling the association over highly questionable claims that he is owed more than $30 000 for services rendered to the soccer mother body.
Riva has over the last year been securing writs to attach ZIFA property on claims that the association owed him large sums of money for allegedly taking photographs at the association’s official functions.
ZIFA have been disputing the said debt, arguing that Riva was neither their official photographer nor did he submit pictures worth over $30 000 to the association.
Matters, however, came to a head when Riva tried to raid Chiyangwa’s business premises to try and attach property on the basis that the Harare businessman is the ZIFA president.
Chiyangwa yesterday responded by securing a peace order against Riva and immediately slapped the freelance photographer with a $2,7 million suit.
The peace order obtained at the Harare Civil and Customary Law read:
“It is hereby ordered that respondent (Riva) is hereby ordered to keep peace towards the applicant (Chiyangwa) and shall not conduct himself in any manner likely to provoke peace or violence.
“Failure by the respondent to comply with (the order) any member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police is ordered to arrest the respondent and to bring him before this court within 38 hours of his arrest to answer to charges of contempt of court,” ordered the magistrate Y Dzuda.
Chiyangwa also revealed that ZIFA had begun engaging “bona fide creditors” with a view to clearing the huge debt believed to be around $6 million, which has literally crippled operations at the soccer mother body.
The ZIFA boss also issued a stern warning to “fraudulent creditors seeking to milk money out of the association for unclear services”, indicating that they risked facing the full wrath of the law.
Chiyangwa said ZIFA had found common ground with some of the creditors while negotiations with others were continuing.
ZIFA’s move to engage creditors is also in line with the recommendations which the association received from FIFA, whose development officer for Eastern and Southern Africa Ashford Mamelodi has been on a number of trips to Harare to try and find solutions on the crippling debt.
But it is the claims by Riva that have riled Chiyangwa and his board and the ZIFA boss warned that they would not be pressured into paying for services of a questionable nature.
“While ZIFA has taken appropriate commercial and administrative steps to manage its bona fide creditors, the ZIFA president has stepped up efforts of taking appropriate action against the association’s fraudulent and dubious creditors.
“Recently, the Magistrates’ Court granted a restraint order against one Mr Lazarus Riva, who has made fictitious claims of having provided photographic services to the association when there is not even a single record of such services.
“Mr Riva had taken his extortive acts beyond reason and decency by continuously trespassing and being a legal nuisance at the private offices of the ZIFA president, which caused Dr Philip Chiyangwa to obtain an order restraining Mr Riva from interfering with his peace,” read the ZIFA statement.
Chiyangwa indicated that the damages he was claiming from Riva had been necessitated by the photographer’s persistence in disrupting order at his business premises, with the Harare property magnate questioning the motive behind the actions given that other creditors such CBZ Bank had been civil in their pursuit of what they are owed.
“Further in a separate action, the ZIFA president is seeking damages against Mr Riva in the amount of $2,7 million for damages occasioned by his disruptive conduct at the ZIFA president’s private businesses.
“The ZIFA president would like it to be known to the public at large that this is just but the beginning for many of the wolf in sheep skin fraudulent and dubious creditors purporting to be owed by the association.
“Genuine creditors have been engaged and are aware of the steps being taken to deal with the ZIFA debt situation.”
Chiyangwa added that ZIFA would soon announce details of the measures they have taken to deal with the debt issue.
“We are aiming to announce comprehensive details soon on the way forward to those cleared by the audit. There are likelihoods of settlement after discounting the amounts to 30-50 percent of the acceptable amount after the forensic audit.
“We will announce the audit firm, law firm and methodology thereafter,” Chiyangwa said.
Chiyangwa is also expected to update the ZIFA assembly on the measures that his executive has put in place to try and overcome the long dragging debt situation when his presents his report to the councillors.
The ZIFA councilors will converge for their annual meeting in Harare on October 29 where members are also expected to be given the audit report and to ratify the 2017 budget that should pave the way for the association to access FIFA financial support.
On his last visit to Zimbabwe last month, Mamelodi however, warned creditors that the world body’s financial support to ZIFA was not meant to clear the debt but was earmarked for development especially the revival of the junior structures.
While noting that they indeed owe money to creditors who helped them in their hour of need, ZIFA have also vowed to be through in the manner they deal with claims that come their way to avoid being hoodwinked by bogus creditors who are ready to pounce on any opportunity to demand money from them.