ZIFA has vowed to challenge the suspension of its board by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) early this week.
The beleaguered leadership of the local football governing body has revealed it has written to world football body FIFA, and the continental body CAF challenging the suspension.
ZIFA’s lawyer Chenaimoyo Gumiro Thursday confirmed Zifa had been served with the suspension letter but questioned the legality of the SRC’s decision.
The SRC’s move is expected to attract sanctions from FIFA resulting in Zimbabwe being barred from participating in all international competitions.
“The SRC does not have that mandate or authority to suspend ZIFA based on incompetence. SRC is not the employer of the ZIFA executive committee, neither are the ZIFA executive committee employees of SRC. The role of the SRC is clearly defined that it is a regulatory body and not the employer,” Gumiro said.
“The SRC can only act within the confines of the law and, as such, if it intends to suspend the executive committee of an association, it can only do so in terms of section 30 of the SRC Act. The letter goes on to purport to suspend the ZIFA executive committee in terms of that section of the SRC Act.
“But, however, due process was not followed in that ZIFA was not accorded an opportunity to be heard and to present its side of the story. The decision to suspend can only be reached upon after according to the other party an opportunity to be heard.
“In this case, this was not done, rendering the whole process unlawful. Even if we are to give credence to the letter, the basis alleged do not hold.”
The SRC Tuesday disbanded the ZIFA board, accusing it of several transgressions, including abuse of public funds, gross incompetence, failure to adhere to Covid-19 protocols when sending national teams outside the country.
Some members of the ZIFA board are also accused of sexual harassment of female referees as well as failure to address the gender imbalances relating to the treatment of female national teams compared to their male counterparts.
The SRC also accused ZIFA of failing to account for public funds relating to the Warriors’ participation at the 2019 AfCON finals in Egypt, but Gumiro dismissed the allegation.
“Various legal issues arise, one to do with prescription and secondly the allegation that ZIFA did not respond to the communication dated 3 July 2019,” Gumiro told NewZimbabwe.
“It is clear that Zifa did respond to that correspondence through a letter dated 14 August 2019, and addressed to the SRC. So, this allegation is patently false as the response is there and can be ascertained through checking the records. If the response is not the one that the SRC expected, then it should have said so, not to say that there was no response.”
Meanwhile, the suspension has divided the ZIFA board with Sugar Chagonda urging his colleagues to respect the sanctions imposed on them by the SRC.
ZIFA president Felton Kamambo, Philemon Machana, Barbra Chikosi, Bryton Malandule, Farai Jere, and Stanley Chapeta are some of the board members that have been placed on suspension.
ZIFA immediately reacted to the suspension by the SRC, by withdrawing all referees who had been billed to officiate at the Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches from Tuesday to Friday.
However, Chagonda, the board member in charge of competitions, said it was important for his ZIFA colleagues to respect the decision.
“Like any other institution or committee, nobody wants to leave office, or the mandate they would have been given especially in public office by way of suspension or being fired,” Chagonda said in a statement.
“The SRC gave their reasons and in their statement, they also indicated that they had consulted before acting, which might suggest that their move has the blessings of the government. As a result, it is my appeal to fellow ZIFA board members that we need to respect the SRC decision and take it on the chin.”
He added: “At law, they are our sporting authorities as enshrined in the Sport and Recreation Act.”
The Manica Diamonds FC official also distanced himself from the ill-advised move to bar referees from officiating at PSL games.
“I want to also categorically distance myself from any moves to sabotage any of the game’s structures including the regrettable move to withdraw referees from all Premier Soccer League matches. To me, that is synonymous with daylight witchcraft or sorcery.”