By Petros Kausiyo
As the cloud of uncertainty continues to hang over the Premier Soccer League relegation puzzle, it has emerged that the ZIFA Assembly’s vote to try and demote four teams from the top-flight league is procedurally flawed.
The ZIFA Assembly made a stunning about-turn at their annual meeting in Harare at the end of last month and reversed a decision they made on July 25 last year, which paved way for the relegation of two teams from the elite league this year.
That resolution also set the platform for promotional play-offs involving the winners of the regional Division One leagues.
But in a stunning turn of events that seems to have been more emotional than it was rational, the councillors smuggled the relegation issue onto the agenda in contravention of the statutes governing the national game.
That decision has also left the domestic game sharply divided with the PSL and their member clubs on one side fiercely opposed to a late notification of change in relegation format and a section of the ZIFA Assembly on the other pressing to have four teams demoted.
There are also genuine fears that ZIFA could face long-dragging court disputes over the ill-timed move, which came with just two rounds of the 2016 Premiership games to play.
Surprisingly, the Sport and Recreation Commission who had been expected to give direction and mediate in the row have adopted a “wait and see approach’’ with the supreme sports body hoping for a peaceful solution to emanate from the warring parties.
The Sports Commission are custodians of all the sporting associations’ constitutions and the supreme body’s officials could have reminded the ZIFA councillors of the violation of a resolution that was adopted and minuted at their last annual meeting.
But The Herald can reveal that minutes of deliberations pertaining to the relegation and promotion puzzle point to a ZIFA Assembly that has gone offside on their own resolutions.
“Four (4) teams would be promoted and demoted after the 2015 season.
“Two teams would be promoted and demoted after 2016 season with the PSL funding the promotional play-offs,’’ reads part of the minutes of that July 25, 2015 indaba.
There are also some procedural flaws in the manner in which ZIFA councillors reportedly led by Northern Region’s Martin Kweza and Southern Region boss Musa Mandaza ignored a requirement of at least 30 days notice for a motion to be discussed at such an indaba.
While the councillors seem to have cited the PSL’s alleged failure to honour a pledge to fund the play-offs, the fallout appears to have been premised on a debt of gratitude that was not fulfilled.
That debt of gratitude was based on the fact that while the PSL had supported the councillors when they revoked the mandate of the previous ZIFA board last year, the league would fund the promotional play-offs.
But more worryingly is the fact that the assembly ignored a resolution they made in terms of their constitution and instead brought in a fresh motion from the floor at an annual meeting without at least 30 days notice having been given for that motion to be tabled.
The relegation-promotion was not part of the agenda of the latest ZIFA annual meeting and only came to light after Northern region’s Martin Kweza and Southern region boss Musa Mandaza led debate on the matter.
Ironically, the councillors chose to vote on the issue of relegation when they had earlier in the same meeting adopted the minutes of the July 25 meeting.
That the regional chairmen met as late as September this year to prepare for the play-offs and had tasked ZIFA Communications and Competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela with drafting the play-offs show that the assembly knew of the resolution to demote only two teams from the Premiership.
“ZIFA DIVISION ONE PLAY-OFFS MEETING HELD ON THE 10TH OF SEPTEMBER, 2016 AT ZIFA HEAD OFFICE, CHISIPITE, HARARE, 11 am
Present: Mr Piraishe Mabhena (ZIFA Competitions Committee) — Chairing
Mr Philemon Machana (ZIFA Finance Committee Chairman)
Mr Musa Mandaza (ZIFA Southern Region — Chairman)
>Mr Willard Manyengavana (ZIFA Northern Region — Chairman)
Mr Stanley Chapeta (ZIFA Central Region Chairman)
Mr Davison Muchena (ZIFA Eastern Region Chairman)
Mr Xolisani Gwesela (ZIFA Communications and Competitions Manager) (Minuting)
Apologies: Premier Soccer League
Agenda: Division One Champions Play-Offs
Mr Mandaza gave a word of prayer. The chairperson, Mr Mabhena welcomed everyone to the meeting, thanked everyone and expressed confidence of a fruitful meeting.
He told the gathering that the purpose of the meeting was to deliberate on how Division One play-offs ought to be carried out. He then called for unity among all stakeholders involved in the play-offs.
The following issues were agreed upon:
The Division One playoffs were going to be administered by the National Association through ZIFA Competitions Committee which comprised of representatives from all regions. All Regional Presidents will be ex-officio members of the organising committee.
Competition rules and regulations
The Competitions Manager, Mr Gwesela was tasked to draft the rules and regulations in liaison with the Competitions Committee.
End of 2016 Playing Season
All the four regions should aim at concluding their games by the weekend of the 19th/20th of November 2016.
Venue and period of play-offs
It was agreed that the National Sports Stadium in Harare will host all play-off games over three weekends — November 26-27; December 3-4 and December 10-11, 2016
Format of the Competition
A round robin format would be used and a draw will be conducted by the organising committee at their next meeting.
The Premier Soccer League would sponsor the play-offs since they had already made the commitment. The PSL to be requested to submit their commitment in writing indicating how much money they’ve budgeted for the play-offs.
This money will cover transport and accommodation costs for the teams and also payment of the match officials.
Revenue from gate takings
Revenue from gate takings would be used to finance other cost centres i.e. Security, Stadium Hire, Ambulance Services, Cashiers etc.
Mr Manyengavana, in consultation with the Competitions Committee, was tasked to continue discussions with Kwese TV for broadcast rights during the play-offs. Proceeds from play-off matches will be distributed as follows
Premier Soccer League 10pc
Submission of teams to the national office
It was agreed that only players registered with ZIFA will be eligible to play in the play-offs and all Regions should submit their top 5 teams to the National office by September 30, 2016.
These players must have ZIFA licences valid until the 31st of December, 2016.
“There was no other business and the meeting ended at 12.30pm with a closing prayer from Mr Manyengavana,’’ read part of the minutes.
It is against the background of such meetings as the one attended by the regional chairmen, the resolutions made at the last annual meeting and the constitutional requirements such as Article 27 of the statutes which render the councillors move a nullity.
Article 27.1 states that:
“The General Secretary shall draw up the agenda based on proposals from the Executive Committee and the Members.
“Any proposal that a Member wishes to submit to the Congress shall be sent to the general-secretariat in writing, with a brief explanation, at least 30 days before the date of the Congress’’. The Herald