Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
A Bulawayo-based lawyer believes people castigating Highlanders life member Cornelius Ngwazana for threatening to take the club to court have no legal appreciation of the Fifa statute they are basing their argument on.
He said Ngwazana, like any other club member, has the right to seek legal recourse if he feels the club is not addressing his complaints.
Ngwazana sent the club an ultimatum to reverse the board’s decision to extend the tenure of three executive committee members in January after being denied permission to gather for an annual general meeting and elections due to the Level 4 lockdown that was in force.
Ngwazana wanted the club to rescind its decision in seven days.
Those arguing against court action cite Article 64 of the Fifa statutes, which frowns on taking football matters to court.
However, the lawyer, who cannot be named for professional reasons, says going to court is a constitutional right and Fifa statutes don’t trample the constitution of the land.
He said as long as the Highlanders constitution does not have a clause stipulating that its members can’t take disputes to court, then that member can’t fall foul of Fifa statutes because Bosso members do not fall under Fifa, Zifa or PSL.
This is why even during crowd trouble during matches, Zifa or the Premier Soccer League deals with clubs and not supporters or members.
“A member is covered by the club’s constitution. If the club’s constitution doesn’t bar that member, the member goes to court because the member is not in the books of Zifa, Fifa and PSL as an official,” said the lawyer.
“So if the Bosso constitution doesn’t bar its members from going to court, they shouldn’t expect Zifa or Fifa to bar their members for them because they are not controlled by them. In fact, one can go to court to enforce the contents of his letter to the board since they are ignoring him. It must be an application to enforce because he is being ignored.”
The lawyer said the case would have been different if the Highlanders constitution had a Dispute Resolution Chamber whereby aggrieved members could seek recourse.
Persons or institutions covered by Fifa statutes that are not expected to take football matters to court include; associations, members of associations, in particular clubs, officials, players, match officials, intermediaries, licensed match agents and anyone elected or assigned by Fifa to exercise a function, in particular with regard to a match, competition or other event organised by Fifa.
Ngwazana’s case has divided opinion among Bosso members. Below are some opinions expressed by Bosso members.
Mso Ndlovu (South Africa)
Ngwazana, being a life member of Bosso, has every right to exercise and protect his rights as enshrined in our constitution. Those entrusted with protecting the constitution must never be allowed to abuse their powers. However, we must all be cognisant of the fact that we’re indeed living in difficult times caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. All parties are better advised to find a middle ground solution which doesn’t bring the club into disrepute and whose effect may be felt when we lose sponsors. One hopes the court action will be avoided or prevented, but if not, courts are meant to adjudicate such contentious issues. However, the winner must always be Highlanders FC, the team Ngwazana and I love so much.
Leon Tshuma (Lupane)
As a Highlanders family, our decisions must always be informed by the constitution of the club. We can’t afford to set a wrong precedence by choosing to violate our sacred document with impunity. Our constitution is very clear on holding of executive posts by members; why then should we debate on something that was agreed on and documented as our operation manual. lf we choose to misinterpret the manual, then we are headed for disaster.
Simply put, let’s respect our constitution. The gentleman is very right, according to our constitution at the moment we don’t have a chairperson, secretary and committee member, and if they are operating, they are operating outside the dictates of the constitution.
Khumbulani Sibanda (Bubi)
I personally feel people should respect the constitution of the club. Unless the constitution allows, it’s fine, but if it is out of greed and need for power it’s uncalled for.
Faith Silandulo Dube (South Africa)
The executive positions are not specialised offices. Over the years, we have had scenarios where elected executive members failed to complete their terms for some reason. The board in consultation with the other executive members went on to appoint from among paid up members, given the fact that, there were other options under the circumstances. Unilaterally extending the terms of office on the eve of an election is by all standards unfair and democratically tangential.
Brian Moyo (Bulawayo)
He is a bona-fide member and therefore has a right to exercise his right, rightly or wrongly. I think he is right to address his grievances to the club and the club also is duty bound to hear him. Taking matters to court may be a bit extreme given the nature of the matter and also football’s opinion about taking football’s issues to court, and the costs of such a route.
Nomuhle Moyo (Bulawayo)
I think his move was uncalled for He blew this whole issue out of proportion. The elections couldn’t take place due to Covid-19 restrictions laid down by the Government so, there was no way Bosso would have been allowed to go ahead wth the elections under such an environment. Lami as a potential voter I was not going to attend the meeting fearing for my health. So his timing was very wrong to opt to do that. Let’s wait for the announcement of the new dates for both the AGM and elections.
Buhle Ncube (Bulawayo)
I wouldn’t comment much on whether he is wrong or not because we are different people who see things differently and won’t agree on all things. In my personal opinion, I see nothing wrong with the board decision to postpone the AGM and elections because we all know the situation that we were in. However, maybe the way the board made the decision is what didn’t go down well with Ngwazana.
If it is so, I think instead of taking football matters to court he should have instead approached the board in an amicable way and alerted them why he feels the decision they took is wrong and am sure the board have a valid reason why thy took that decision. They wouldn’t have minded clarifying things to him, but now when writing letters threatening to take matters to court ingathi kuyaliwa. It is wrong unless evele esilwa. This is giving a bad picture to the the world out there and it shows disunity in the Highlanders’ family. Abadala abahlale phansi belungise indaba zekhaya kuhle without drama.
Dumisile Ntini (South Africa)
In my opinion, as a member of the club Ngwazana has a right to say his opinion. If it was me having seen that they are not responding, I would have tried to approach them and let them hear me out. He has every right to demand explanations if he feels things are not being handled well. However, I am against taking this issue to court; we should find amicable ways of solving our differences like a family, not taking each other to court. It brings unnecessary attention to the club and gives our enemies a chance to poke fun at us, so to me court action is and must be totally out; it’s a big no. Let these guys find each other.
Lawrence Gwati (Bulawayo)
I personally think that what Bosso did was in the best interest of the club considering that they failed to get clearance from the authorities to hold their elections. By extending the stay of the current executive I think it made life easy because it was going to create a serious vacuum. And besides at times dragging each other to court in the name of the club also tarnishes the good standing of this great club. After all it’s just a temporary move. Remember our football will return. Taking each other to court is a very big no.