Zifa in trouble over Saintfiet

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The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has been summoned to appear in court on April 24 this year to answer to allegations of employing a Belgian national, Tom Saintfiet, without a work permit.

According to the summons, Zifa would be charged with contravening Section 10(1) of the Immigration Regulations Statutory Instrument Number 195/98 as read with Section 36(I)(j) of the Immigration Act.
The Act states: “No person shall employ a visitor in any occupation unless the visitor has been issued with a work permit authorising such employment.”

However, it was not clear from the summons as to who shall represent Zifa in court between Zifa president Cuthbert Dube and chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze if the trial kicks off.

But the complainant was cited as the State.

Allegations against the domestic football governing body are that in October 2010, it contracted Saintfiet as the Warriors head coach on a four-year contract without going through proper procedures.

Zifa then allowed the Belgian to conduct a training session with the Warriors squad who were preparing for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Cape Verde, but without a work permit.

The blunder attracted the Home Affairs ministry’s rebuke who quickly moved in and served Saintfiet with deportation papers for breaching work permit procedures and regulations.

On October 5, 2010, just four days before the Afcon qualifier at the National Sports Stadium, Saintfiet, who has since resurfaced in Nigeria as the country Football Association’s technical director, was ordered to leave.

He had to drive throughout the night to neighbouring Botswana as Zifa battled to secure a permit, which never came through.

The development ignited a court battle between Zifa and the Belgian coach who took his case to Fifa demanding $450 000 from Zifa for breach of contract.

Norman Mapeza and Madinda Ndlovu were named as joint coaches for the match, but what followed was a lifeless performance in a match that marked the end of former captain Benjani Mwaruwari’s international career.The disjointed Warriors team, low on confidence and the players’ loyalty split between the two coaches, eventually drew the match 0-0, a result that put paid to the team’s hopes of reaching the Afcon finals that were held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon early this year.