EFFORTS by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa), to be placed under trustee management and avoid settling sky-rocketing debts of more than $6 million, have been dealt a major blow, after the Master of the High Court filed a report urging the court to dismiss the application, arguing the national soccer governing body has no legal capacity to file such a petition. BY CHARLES LAITON -NEWSDAY
In a report filed at the High Court in response to Zifa’s request, Additional Master-Insolvency, Reuben Mukavi, said Zifa does not have a legal personality separate from its members allowing it to sue or be sued in its own name before suggesting that all members of the organisation should have also applied for voluntary sequestration.
Mukavi said: “the net effect of these facts on the present application is that Zifa has no legal capacity to bring this petition in its own name, and for that reason the petition is a nullity”.
The application is set to be heard today.
Early this month, Zifa filed an application seeking to be placed under trustee management on the basis that it had failed to pay its creditors and was failing to abide by court orders since it had nothing to offer and was left with assets worth only $30 000.
But, the Master of the High Court accused Zifa of acting fraudulently against its creditors by coining a new outfit — the National Football Association of Zimbabwe (Nafaz) — in a bid to avoid its responsibilities.
“That new outfit is composed of the same members and office bearers as Zifa had. In fact, it would appear that all that was changed was the name of the association, the membership and the objects remained the same,” Mukavi said.
“It then is an escapable conclusion that the said dissolution of Zifa and the simultaneous constitution of Nafaz were simply a method by the members of evading paying creditors. . . the court might also want to know that the Zifa constitution, in Article 77(2) provides that upon Zifa being disbanded, its assets shall be transferred to the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), which shall hold those assets in trust until Zifa is re-established.
“It follows, therefore, that Zifa could not dissolve itself without transferring its assets and liabilities to its successor, Nafaz. By dissolving their Zifa, and then purporting to have the estate of Zifa sequestrated, the members are not only breaching article 77(2) of the Zifa constitution by failing to transfer Zifa’s assets and liabilities to Nafaz, but also roping in the court in the breach.”
Zifa (Pvt) Ltd, which claims to be a separate entity from the football association, owns four properties — Zifa House at Number 53 Livingstone Avenue in Harare, Zifa Village in Mt Hampden, a house along McLaughlin Road in Kensington, and another house in Bulawayo.
In its application, Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa said his association’s financial position had crippled the smooth running of the country’s football mother body.
“By and large, the key reasons for the predicament of the applicants are that they are unable to meet their obligations, pay for services they receive(d) and pay their debts on the basis that it has no capacity to do as and has no source(s) of income to meet such obligations,” he said.
“The applicant has been exposed to litigation on numerous occasions and, in the process, has lost money, goodwill, reputation and any assets of value and is now left with a depleted asset register, which virtually has nothing, such that its liabilities, debts and obligations now far outweigh its assets.”
Among the notable creditors is CBZ Bank Limited, which is owed $1 795 000. Other individuals and firms are owed more than $6 million, while Buymore Investments, which is owned by former Zifa president Cuthbert Dube is also owed $438 222.
Other notable creditors include the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority ($504 998, 62), Pandhari Lodges and Conference Centre ($268 436), the Asiagate investigating committee ($650 000), international match agents, Kentaro ($600 000), NSSA ($149 517,14), SRC ($180 386,40) and Led Travel &Tours ($244 527).
Former coaches, who are yet to get their dues include Norman Mapeza ($245 000), Rahman Gumbo ($78 000), Sunday Chidzambwa ($68 000), Charles Mhlauri ($17 270) and Nelson Matongorere ($113 463).