By Ricky Zililo
The Zifa appeals committee’s decision to dismiss the association’s appeal that nullified the suspension of its vice-president Gift Banda can be viewed as a sign that the judicial bodies are free from manipulation and expose Zifa’s shortcomings.
Banda, who was suspended in January last year, just a month after being elected, has been in the cold for 15 months, with Zifa dragging its feet in concluding his matter.
In March the Zifa disciplinary committee cleared allegations against Banda of usurping the board’s powers by unilaterally dismissing then Warriors’ assistant coaches Rahman Gumbo and Lloyd Mutasa.
Zifa challenged its own disciplinary committee’s ruling in what was viewed as a ploy to sink Banda.
Accusations abound that Zifa board member Philimon Machana, who has been controlling the association’s finances, was “hell-bent” on getting Banda kicked out of football for good.
It is alleged that Machana, who has been “acting Zifa vice-president”, something not enshrined in the association’s constitution, views Banda as a threat to his ascendency and is said to be attempting to manipulate Zifa’s judicial bodies.
Zifa has been careless in pursuing Banda’s case by violating its own rules.
Lawyers representing Banda raised a preliminary point that Zifa had not complied with Article 7 of the rules and regulations, and argued that the appeal was defective and could not be heard.
Munyaradzi Nzarayapenga, of DBN Attorneys, representing Banda, raised the key preliminary point just before proceedings could commence at the beginning of the week, arguing that without confirmation that Zifa had paid the $40 000 appeal fee, the case could not be heard as scheduled.
He argued that this meant the appeal, as per the Zifa rules and regulations, was never filed in the first place and, without confirmation of the payment of a fee, the Appeals Board could not go into the merits of “a defective process”.
Nzarayapenga said the rules and regulations were clear and were meant to protect football and could not be violated by a party to the proceedings, without throwing the whole process into a sham.
“We raised a preliminary point that Zifa did not comply with Article 7, which says that the appeal should be accompanied by an appeal fee.
“The rule is very clear that such an appeal should be accompanied by the payment of a fee and, without such a payment, then the appeal becomes a nullity. It means there is no appeal that was lodged to the committee (Appeals Board).
“Without a record that the money was paid to support the appeal, the appeal could not be heard,” Nzarayapenga told our Harare Bureau.
He said given a ruling had to be passed to the preliminary point they raised, it was up to Zifa to satisfy its Appeals Board as to what happened to the money it was supposed to pay to accompany its appeal.
Without such satisfaction being provided, the Zifa Appeals Board ruled in Banda’s favour.
Zifa lawyer Chenaimoyo Gumiro of Harare law firm Ngaravo, Moyo and Chikono also confirmed that it was mandatory that an appeal should be accompanied by an appeal fee and a receipt to confirm its payment.
“We tried to contact the person, who does the payments, to see if we could get the receipt, but he said he couldn’t make it into town because of the lockdown issues today (yesterday),” said Gumiro.
“The Appeals Board said since confirmation that the fee had been paid was not there, they could not proceed with the case since the process could be deemed to be defective.
“The onus is on Zifa to satisfy the Appeals Board that, as and when the appeal was lodged, payment was done to accompany that appeal.”
Now that Zifa has failed to prove that it paid the appeal fee and has lost the Banda case, it now has to approach the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if it wants to pursue the matter.
The latest Zifa boob might give credence to earlier concerns that some people that participated in the last elections didn’t pay their nomination fees.
Banda chose to remain mum.
“At the moment I won’t comment. I’ll wait for Zifa to officially communicate their position,” said Banda. The Chronicle