PLAYERS WIN CASE

CAPS Utd ordered to pay about $60 000

Twine Phiri says club will settle its dues

Ronald Pfumbidzai

Ronald Pfumbidzai

Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
SEVEN CAPS United players, who dragged the Harare giants to court, have been handed a $59 000 arbitration award after winning their case at the Labour Court.

Kenneth Bulaji, Tendai Samanja, Dominic Chungwa, Tafadzwa Dube, Dominic Mukandi, Ronald Pfumbidzai and Stephen Makatuka were owed various amounts in signing-on fees, salaries and winning bonuses.

Goalkeeper Dube, who is now at Harare City, is owed in excess of $14 000 while utility player Mukandi is demanding $13 200.

The players argued that Makepekepe breached the terms of their contract of employment after failing to pay them their dues.

CAPS United president Twine Phiri said last night that although they had not yet seen the verdict, his club respected the laws of the country and will pay the players accordingly.

“We are a law-abiding club and once we are furnished with the verdict we will look at it and we will make arrangements to pay the players,” said Phiri.

“We never argued that we did not owe the players and we are not the only football club in this country that finds itself in such a situation in this difficult operating environment.

“The good thing is that we are working around the clock to ensure that CAPS United, as a brand, remains standing and I can promise our stakeholders that this will certainly be the case.

“We have been charmed by the response that we have been getting from our fans, some from as far as the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, who have said they are ready to help their club with financial injections in these trying times.

“These people value the CAPS United brand and have said they will not watch while it goes through all these challenges and I am happy to announce today that we have opened an EcoCash account where every supporter, who believes that he can make his or her small contribution to the club, can do so.

“This initiative came from our fans and the facility will be under the supervision of our former supporters chairman, Abraham Kawadza, and all those funds will be audited and we will publish the statements of income in the mainstream newspapers, including those who helped us and how much they put in.

“It’s a difficult phase for the club, but we are confident that, working hand-in-hand with our fans and other stakeholders, the brand CAPS United will not die.”

Phiri said they were not the only football club facing challenges, but conceded that because of their high-profile, they will attract headlines now and again.

Acting ZIFA chairman Omega Sibanda said the association would not just watch and see football institutions like CAPS United collapse and urged the club to resolve its dispute with players and former board members within their family.

“I was there in Bulawayo when CAPS United players boycotted that game and I intervened because, as football leaders, we should be seen to be trying to protect the interests of the sponsors, the paying public and the image of our game,” said Sibanda.

“There are some issues that need to be resolved at CAPS United, at board level and with their players and they should find time to sit as a family and see how best they can sort out those problems without tarnishing the image of their brand.

“In football we always believe that the courts should be the last port of call and we have channels in the game which are there to resolve disputes and my advice to the CAPS United family is that they should find unity and if they sit down, within their family, they will see they can get solutions.

“The economic climate right now is tough and the last thing we need is to celebrate the possible demise of CAPS United, instead of helping them find solutions to their challenges, because they are not the only club who have such challenges.

“As football leaders we have a duty to ensure that we protect our institutions and the fans look up to us to ensure that we preserve Highlanders, we preserve Dynamos, we preserve CAPS United, we preserve How Mine and all the clubs in the league.

“We have lost too many clubs in recent years and we can’t afford to lose any more otherwise there will be no football to talk about and CAPS United, just like Highlanders and Dynamos, is an institution of Zimbabwean football.”

The seven players approached the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe to assist them following a prolonged dispute with the club’s management.

Samanja, Chungwa, Bulaji and Dube have since left the Green Machine.

The players were represented at the tribunal by FUZ president, Desmond Maringwa and his secretary-general, Paul Gundani, while Chizengeya and Partners Legal Practitioners stood for Makepekepe.

The independent arbitrator, Kenneth Nhongo, established that Makepekepe indeed owed the players and were in breach of contract.

“In view of my findings in this matter, it is awarded as follows:

1. That the Employer breached the contracts of employment.

2. That the Respondent be and is, hereby, ordered to pay claimants their outstanding salaries, bonuses and signing-on fees as follows — Kenneth Bulaji $2 650; Tendai Samanja $3 300; Tafadzwa Dube $14 300; Dominic Chungwa $5 650; Dominic Mukandi $13 200; Ronald Pfumbidzayi $10 200 and Stephen Makatuka $ 9 800 — totalling $59 100,” read part of the award.

The Harare giants argued that they had reached out of court settlements with Bulaji, Chungwa and Samanja, but the players denied they signed the documents. The arbitrator annulled the separate contracts which CAPS United claimed they had entered with the three players to forfeit their dues as he argued that the negotiations were also supposed to be conducted in the presence of FUZ, who represent the players.

“It is evident and that is my finding that the Respondent’s influence weakened the three claimants’ powers of resistance and rendered their will compliant.

“Respondent used its influence in an unscrupulous manner and intended to do so by avoiding the Union who represented the claimants.

“Respondent’s undue influence induced the conclusion of the contracts. As is evident, the contracts were prejudicial to the claimants.

“In the result, the separate contracts, clandestinely entered into between Respondent and Kenneth Bulaji, Tendai Samanja and Dominic Chungwa are not valid and are, hereby, dismissed as null and void . . .

“In the result, I come to the conclusion that all seven Claimants are owed outstanding salaries, bonuses and sign-on fees. Players sacrifice their limbs on the soccer pitch because it is their job for which they must be paid.

“They have families to support. Playing soccer is not for enjoyment . . . Respondent is to be ordered to pay each Claimant his outstanding salaries, bonuses and signing-on fees.”