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Gift Banda saga rages on

By Langton Nyakwenda

Domestic football may be in lockdown just like all activities in the country owing to the coronavirus but a protracted battle is looming in the ZIFA boardroom following fresh attempts to bar vice president Gift Banda’s return to office.

Gift Banda
Gift Banda

ZIFA recently appealed against a ruling that cleared Banda of all charges leveled against him in January last year.

However, the decision has touched off a number of conspiracy theories amid revelations that it has also sharply divided Felton Kamambo’s board.

The association’s unprecedented decision to appeal against a ruling by its own disciplinary committee, which on March 7 acquitted the suspended Banda of charges levelled against him in January 2019, appears to be the main bone of contention.

Banda, who polled 35 votes to beat the then-incumbent Omega Sibanda for the vice presidency in the December 2018 ZIFA elections, was suspended a few weeks into office on allegations of usurping the board’s powers by unilaterally dismissing then-Warriors assistant coaches Rahman Gumbo and Lloyd Mutasa.

The ZIFA board meeting of January 16 resolved to suspend Banda, who went for 14 months on the sidelines until March 7, when he was exonerated by the soccer body’s disciplinary committee.

Before the ink on the ruling that acquitted Banda had dried, the board contested the judgment, with the matter now before Stead Kachere’s ZIFA Appeals Board.

The Banda case is one of two which the board will be seized with when the situation normalises.

The other case involves Herentals’ appeal against expulsion from the Premier Soccer League. But unlike the Herentals appeal, the ZIFA board’s latest move has raised questions within the board and among some of the association’s councillors.

It is ZIFA’s contention that their disciplinary committee erred when “it disregarded all other counts in Banda’s charge sheet and only dealt with the aspect of appointment or recommendation of assistant coaches’’.

In confirming receipt of the appeal, Harare lawyer Stead Kachere said the ZIFA board were the appellants.

“We are yet to receive the full record of proceedings. However, from the notice of appeal it shows that ZIFA is the appellant.

“They (ZIFA) confirmed payment though we are yet to see the proof of payment. You can check with Mamutse (ZIFA CEO),” said Kachere.

ZIFA chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse referred questions to their spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, who confirmed that they had paid $125 000 in appeal fees.

It has, however, emerged the decision to appeal was not ratified by the full ZIFA board.

“We just read about it in the press, we do not know who authorised both the appeal and the payment of the appeal fees,” said one board member, who requested anonymity.

The decision is understood to have been made by the ZIFA emergency committee, which comprises Kamambo and three other members — Philemon Machana, Farai Jere and Brighton Malandule.

The emergency committee ordinarily carries association’s urgent business between regular board meetings.

But the ZIFA constitution requires that the emergency committee’s decisions must be ratified by the full board when it meets.

According to Article 40 (3) of the ZIFA constitution: “All decisions taken by the emergency committee shall be ratified by the executive committee at its next meeting.”

It has emerged that no full ZIFA board meeting was held before the resolution to appeal against the Banda ruling was made, as the last full indaba had been held at a Harare hotel on January 29.

“Maybe it is the emergency committee which passed that decision. We are not privy to the issue, we are wondering who authorised the payment of the appeal fees, which is the mandate of the full board,” said the board member.

The emergency committee trio of Kamambo, Malandule and Machana declined to discuss the appeal on the basis that the matter was subjudice, while PSL chairperson Jere expressed surprise on the matter.

“Sorry, I cannot comment (on the appeal) at the moment, the case is sub judice,” Kamambo said.

Board member (finance) Machana, who had been doubling as vice president during Banda’s suspension, referred all questions to Mamutse.

“Can you check with Mamutse, my brother? I do not comment on judicial processes, especially those that involve a colleague and fellow member of the board,” said Machana.

Malandule similarly indicated that he did “not comment on judicial matters”.

The football body’s constitution states that the expulsion of a member of the association should be ratified by the full congress, which seems not to have been followed in Banda’s case.

Article 36, subsections 1-4 of the constitution, reads: “The congress may dismiss a person or body. The executive committee may place the dismissal of a person or body on the agenda for the congress.

“The executive committee may also dismiss a person or body provisionally. Any executive committee member may submit a proposal to place such a motion for dismissal on the agenda of the executive committee or congress.

“The motion for dismissal must be justified. It will be sent to the members of ZIFA along with the agenda.

“The person or body in question has the right to speak in his or its own defence.

“If the motion for dismissal is upheld, the congress or executive committee shall reach a decision by means of secret ballot. For the motion to be passed, a majority of two-thirds of the valid votes cast is required.

“The person or body dismissed (provisionally) must be relieved of his or its functions with immediate effect,” reads part of the constitution.

When ZIFA held their annual meeting in May 2019, Banda’s case was also never discussed in that congress and Kamambo confirmed as much.

“The Banda issue is within the judicial processes, so it was not touched here (at the AGM),” Kamambo told a post AGM press conference then. The Sunday Mail

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