ZIFA has demanded that the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) withdraws the suspension of the association’s general-secretary Joseph Mamutse, arguing that his ban was unlawful and unprocedural.
BY HENRY MHARA
The SRC on Thursday last week suspended Mamutse and its director-general Prince Mupazviriho to pave way for investigations into how a number of national football teams were cleared for foreign assignments
Mamutse is also blamed for the recent disqualification of the Young Warriors from the Under-17 Cosafa tournament on age-cheating allegations.
However, Zifa has come out in defence of Mamutse, with the local football governing body writing to the sports regulator demanding for his reinstatement.
Through their lawyers Ngarava, Moyo and Chikono Legal Practitioners, Zifa gave SRC 24 hours to withdraw the suspension, failure to which they have threatened to institute litigation as well as report the matter to Fifa.
The ultimatum was served to SRC on Tuesday. It was not clear yesterday if SRC had responded to the letter.
SRC invoked section 30 of the SRC Act when coming up with the suspensions. However, Zifa has poked holes in the section, arguing that Mamutse was not given a chance to defend himself before he was suspended.
“The decision by SRC was arrived at without following the procedure, and in any event, it is unlawful,” Zifa wrote.
“Section 30 (1)(c) of the Act is adjudicative in nature and not investigative. The SRC can only resort to section 30 of the Act after having conducted its own investigation and found the association concerned guilty. For this to be done, the association should be accorded an opportunity to be heard. In casu, you have arrived at a guilty verdict for our client without having accorded it an opportunity to be heard. It is our view that section 30 of the Act should be read in conjunction with the provisions of section 68 and 57 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The said constitutional provisions are codified in the Administrative Justice Act. It is trite that the SRC cannot make an administrative decision without observing the audi alteram partem rule. To that extent, the decision to suspend our client’s general-secretary was arrived at unprocedurally.”
Zifa has also threatened to escalate the issue to Fifa in the event that SRC does not relent.
“Further, and in any event, our client is an affiliate of Fifa. The governing statutes for the administration of our client’s affairs are clear that they do not allow any third party interference in the administration of its affairs. Our client’s view is that the suspension of its general-secretary by the SRC constitutes direct interference in the administration of our client’s affairs. Our client’s constitution, statutes and by laws have adequate provisions to ensure that they deal with the issues that are being raised in your letter of suspension. Accordingly, our client is pursuing the issues raised in your letter separately without the involvement of SRC. Once the investigations are complete, you shall be notified.
As such, the decision by SRC is unlawful in that regard. The decision has not been served on our client, neither was it arrived at with the involvement of our client.
“We are instructed to, as we hereby do, demand that you retract the said suspension letter within the next 24 hours of the date of this letter, failing which we have instructions to instigate litigation to challenge the decision and further report the matter to our client’s parent body, Fifa,” the letter of demand added.
Zifa has said the move by the SRC constitutes interference by the government in the running of its affairs which could lead to a possible suspension of the country from international football.
SRC is a government body that regulates sports in Zimbabwe, although they refuse that they are a government entity.
Fifa does not tolerate government or any other third party interference in the administration of soccer and have previously handed punishments, including bans and suspensions to perpetrators.
A Fifa suspension would mean national teams and local clubs would be banned from playing in international competitions, and funding would cease until reinstatement was granted.
SRC has said they are prepared to risk Fifa sanctions.
This is not the first time that SRC has run into trouble with Fifa. They were last year cautioned by the world football governing body after they tried to remove the current Zifa executive board.
They also tried the same with the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) board in the same year, but were left with an egg in the face when the International Cricket Council told the Gerald Mlotshwa-led SRC to keep their hands off the running of cricket.
Mlotshwa was told to reinstate the board that he had suspended or the country face permanent exile from international competitions.
Zifa is accusing Mlotshwa of trying to muscle out the current football association executive and replace it with a normalisation committee made up of his friends and business associates.