Half-A-Million Dollar Bill

HALF A MILLION DOLLARSIAN GOROWA has become the latest coach to declare he has run out of patience with ZIFA, and could be approaching FIFA for a resolution of his case over unpaid dues during his time as head coach of the Warriors, dealing another big blow to hopes that Zimbabwe could be reinstated into the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

The Herald has established that ZIFA find themselves saddled with a debt of more than $600 000 for coaches who have been working for them, in recent years, and who have not been paid their dues.

Gorowa, who took charge of the Warriors’ 2014 CHAN and 2015 Nations Cup qualifiers, has been battling in vain — for the past year — to be paid his dues after working for eight months without being paid by the bankrupt association.

He claims he is owed $100 000 and this means that, should he take his case to FIFA as he has threatened, it could represent another huge blow in efforts being made to try and get the Warriors back into the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

The outstanding dues, owed to coaches, was one of the issues ZIFA Councillors wanted to discuss at their emergency meeting, a call that was rejected, unconstitutionally, by the Association chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze.

ZIFA acknowledged to BBC Sport at the weekend that “they owe Gorowa money”, and were “in the process” of working out a payment plan although the coach has insisted his efforts to engage Mashingaidze, for a resolution of the case, have been repeatedly ignored.

“ZIFA owes me close to $100 000 due to unpaid dues of eight months. My next action is to go to FIFA because it looks like I have exhausted all channels,” Gorowa told BBC Sport.

“This makes me sick because you can see how ZIFA is making frantic efforts to pay off former coaches Valinhos (Jose Claudinei Georgini) and Tom Saintfiet who they owe as well. But me nothing, not even an engagement and, to make it worse, these are brothers who treat their fellow brother this way. It’s a shame and the fact that I took it to the highest office of sport in the country and nothing has been done.”

Gorowa also criticised the game’s administrators, saying they were holding back the progress of a nation that had a lot of potential to bounce back as a powerful country in African football, describing ZIFA as “chaotic and directionless.”

“I think poor administration and infighting is costing the nation and budding footballers’ successful careers. I feel sorry for the boys,” he told BBC Sport.

“For example, we finished 4th in the CHAN tournament and the boys were promised half of the prize money for their efforts. The prize money was $250 000 and I got a letter from the chief executive officer which said they would make part payment and then make full payment by end of September last year.

“The whole team, including the technical bench, were given $30 000 and that was it. It’s really sad and the future of the players and their careers are at risk if the current situation cannot be resolved.”

ZIFA spokesman Xolisani Gwesela admitted they owed Gorowa money in unpaid salaries.

“We acknowledge that we owe him and we are in the process of engaging him for a reasonable payment plan,” he told BBC Sport.

“We appeal to all our creditors to be patient as we continue to implement our debt servicing strategy.”

ZIFA are running against time to pay Valinhos $81 000, with Mashingaidze telling councillors last week that the settlement will be done within the next two weeks, after they had first promised Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa that the debt would be dissolved within the next two days.

“Settlement, in full of former National Team Coach, Mr Jose Georgini ‘Valinhos’ by mid-May 2015 — Mr Valinhos is owed Eighty One Thousand Dollars ($81 000),” Mashingaidze wrote to ZIFA councillors last week, explaining the issues that had seized the attention of the ZIFA Board.

“Servicing of former National Team Coach, Mr Tom Saintfiet’s debt, beginning end of April 2015, ZIFA owes the National Team Coach One Hundred And Fifty Thousand Dollars ($150 000).”

But it appears at the rate that coaches are courting FIFA for payment of their dues, the resolution of the Valinhos and Saintfiet cases might now be enough to get the Warriors back into the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

In February 2013, former Warriors coach Rahman Gumbo took ZIFA and their president Cuthbert Dube to court over unpaid dues and, in his application filed at the Bulawayo High Court, the gaffer said he was owed $74 000.

The seasoned coach was demanding the amount in question with interest at prescribed rates with effect from March 31, 2012, to date of payment in full and the cost of the suit.

Gumbo claimed ZIFA allegedly paid him $36 000 out of the $110 000 they had reportedly agreed to pay him. After being promised to be paid $25 000 on December 7 2012, $30 000 on January 31 2013, $30 000 on February 28 2013 and $25 000 on 31 March 2013, Gumbo said he met Dube at his offices in Harare who made a binding undertaking to pay the $110 000. The money wasn’t paid.

The coach he replaced at the Warriors, Norman Mapeza, also won his case in November 2012 when an arbitrator, Caleb Mucheche, ordered that he be paid $243 000 for unfair dismissal.

“Consequent to my findings that the claimant was constructively dismissed by the respondent, the latter is hereby ordered to pay the former all his salaries and benefits for the unexpired period of his contract of employment, including all accrued leave days,” Mucheche said in his ruling.

“The respondent shall reimburse the claimant all his total legal costs for this entire dispute. His rights as an employee, enshrined in his contract of employment, the Labour Act and regulations made there-under were trampled upon by Respondent (ZIFA).

“To add salt to injury, the Respondent relegated the claimant to oblivion and unilaterally imposed Rahman Gumbo into the position of Head Coach, barely a day after discarding him.

“By employing Rahman Gumbo, when the claimant’s contract of employment was still legally valid, ZIFA repudiated or short-circuited the latter’s contract of employment.”

Mucheche said allegations that Mapeza could have been involved in match-fixing were not sufficient for ZIFA to act in the way they did.

“Even assuming that the claimant had been fingered in a match-fixing and better scandal, those were mere allegations which had not been proven,” Mucheche said in his ruling.

“An accused person is innocent until proven guilty. If the Respondent was fully convinced that the claimant had a case to answer, it should have arraigned him before a disciplinary panel for him to answer those charges rather than leaving everything to its whim and caprice.

“By suspending the claimant from employment on February 8 2012, on the basis of the so-called allegations of match-fixing and betting without carrying out diligent and proper investigations, the Respondent literally traded a legal minefield with reckless abandon.

“The treatment of the claimant at the hands of Respondent from February 8 2012 up to the date he resorted to legal recourse resembles deep agony of naked injustice at the hands of a spineless, heartless and cruel taskmaster.

“The claimant was lambasted and lampooned by Respondent and its misguided media agents. He was tried, convicted and sentenced by the media without being afforded an opportunity to be heard.” — BBC Sport/Sports Reporter.