BY FORTUNE MBELE
LABOUR expert Davies Ndumiso Sibanda says football players’ contracts cannot be rolled over as has been said by Zifa concerning deals that expired in December following a COVID-19 hit football season, adding a new twist to the debate.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no football activity in the country last year but clubs continued to pay players’ salaries and Zifa is adamant that contracts should be rolled over to this year, much to the chagrin of the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) and legal experts.
Football resumes on Saturday with the Chibuku Super Cup and some players, who have moved to other clubs after their contracts ended on December 31, may be affected by the Zifa resolution which the Premier Soccer League governors have agreed to.
Sibanda, a former Highlanders board member, yesterday cited a Supreme Court case of Kundai Magodora and others vs Care International (SC 191/13).
“Contract of employment is governed by labour law. Players sign fixed-term contracts. It has a starting day and an ending day. Our leading case is Kundai Magodora and others vs Care International. The principle is once two parties write a contract; nobody can alter that contract other than the two parties. In the Kundai Magodora case what the Supreme Court said in principle was that it is not open to courts to rewrite contracts between two parties or excuse any outcome from the consequences they freely and voluntarily accepted even if they are shown to be onerous or oppressive,” Sibanda said.
Sibanda, who chaired the Highlanders human resources sub-committee, said there was no such thing as extension of contract without the players’ consent.
“The judgment tells us that once the football player’s contract comes to an end, it cannot be extended without the agreement of the player. The relationship between individual football players and a club extinguished when the contract ended. There is no body other than the two parties who can create a contract for them. Therefore, the alleged extension of contract in my opinion is null and void. However, where at the expiry of the fixed-term contract, the players continued to avail themselves to the employer and employers promised to pay or paid them; its means the parties had entered another contract,” Sibanda said.
He added: “That is a contract without limit of time (permanent contract). Such player cannot leave the club because they are now employees of the club. These are the players in my opinion who cannot move to other clubs and claim that the contract has come to an end.”
When Zifa made their resolution on player contracts, they claimed that their position was in line with Fifa guidelines.
Following that declaration by Zifa, Bulawayo Chiefs want to be compensated by Dynamos after the midfielder moved to the Harare giants after his contract expired on December 31.
Caps United also want to be compensated for striker Newman Sianchali, who also moved to Dynamos.
Dynamos have, however said the clubs should approach the players or their managers. Chicken Inn are yet to clear Valentine Kadonzvo to Ngezi Platinum Stars, while Highlanders lost Brian Banda and Tinashe Makanda to FC Platinum and Dynamos, but are not pursuing compensation.
Harare City also want to be compensated if Gareth Madhake’s move to Black Rhinos sticks.
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