The Sunday News
Petros Kausiyo, Harare Bureau
ZIFA remain resolute in their bid to keep Gift Banda suspended and have now filed their heads of argument in which they are contesting the
decision of their disciplinary committee to exonerate the association’s vice-president from charges of usurping the powers of the board.
Banda — elected during the December 2018 Zifa polls — 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. However, the Bulawayo businessman and legislator, through his lawyers, is counter-arguing that the board has no legal basis “to contest their own application”.
The Zifa board meeting of 16 January 2019 resolved to suspend Banda, who then sat on the sidelines for 14 months. On 7 March this year, he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the football mother body’s disciplinary committee. Before the ink on the ruling that acquitted Banda had dried, the board contested the judgment and have now turned to the Zifa Appeals Board chaired by Stead Kachere to overturn the acquittal.
Although the appeal is understood to have raised questions within the board and among the association’s councillors, some of whom are among the 35 that voted Banda into office, the matter has gone ahead.
The board want Banda found guilty of all the charges, arguing that the disciplinary committee misdirected itself by focusing on issues that were not up for determination. Zifa filed made their submissions through Harare law firm Ngaravo Moyo and Chikono.
“It is respectfully submitted that the disciplinary committee misdirected itself by arriving at a decision based on technicalities without looking at the merits of the matter that had been brought to its attention for a determination. The disciplinary committee erred at law in that it failed to make a determination on various charges that had been levelled against respondent. The hearing was concluded without a pronouncement being made on many charges being faced by the respondent,” reads part of Zifa’s heads of argument.
The local football governing body also believes that “the disciplinary authority disregarded the issue that was before it for determination”. It is Zifa contention that the matter has to be determined on its merits.
However, Banda’s lawyers — Dube-Banda, Nzarayapenga and Partners — say the Appeals Board should bear in mind that it was the appellant (Zifa) that “requested that the matter . . . should be decided as a stated case”. Parties, therefore, had to agree on all the facts which led to the proceedings, and the disciplinary committee had to decide whether those facts amounting to a breach of the law. Overall, the decision that was taken by Zifa dispensed with the need to call witnesses, since they serve the purpose of proving facts.
Banda’s counsel cites the case of Premier Soccer League v Freddy Mangoma and Anor HH 291-17, which also proceeded as a stated case. The court ruled that where parties have agreed on the real issues to be decided, through a stated case, as in this case, neither party should cry foul in the event of an unfavourable ruling.