Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Zifa executive committee elections took a new twist yesterday when the national association questioned the authenticity of the 2012 letter lifting the suspension of former Southern Region boss, Gift Banda, which was allegedly authored by former chief executive officer, Jonathan Mashingaidze.
Banda who wants to contest the post of Zifa Vice President against the incumbent Omega Sibanda in the December 1 elections, is challenging his disqualification.
Yesterday Zifa produced two other letters on the association’s letter head that were written by Mashingaidze in September 2013 summoning Banda to appear before a disciplinary committee over Centralgate scandal.
The first letter is dated September 16, 2013 and the second one is dated September 24, 2013, both signed by Mashingaidze.
In the first letter, Banda was supposed to appear before the disciplinary committee on September 20 while the second one said his appearance date was September 27 of the same year.
“The 2012 letter is a clear fraudulent act as the association does not have such records,” said Zifa.
Instead the association produced two letters, all bearing Mashingaidze’s signatures.
Re: Invitation to attend Centralgate Hearings 27th September, 2013.
The above matter refers.
The Zimbabwe Football Association hereby invites you to the Centralgate Hearing which shall be conducted as follows;
Date: Friday 27th September 2013
Venue: Zifa office, Bulawayo.
Should you fail to attend, the committee shall proceed with the case in your absence.
Thank you for your consideration,” reads one of the letters signed by Mashingaidze and copied to the then Zifa president Cuthbert Dube, then vice Ndumiso Gumede, board members, then Zifa lawyer Ralph Maganga and the Centralgate disciplinary Committee members.
However, Banda yesterday denied ever receiving the two letters.
“I never received the said letters. Go back to your archives, if you do have them. When these people fired me in 2011, I insisted that they call me for a hearing according to the Zifa Constitution which said one must have a hearing within seven days. They failed to do that. After they had failed to do that for close to a year I then went to court, I didn’t leave it there. I wanted to force and let them know that my suspension was unconstitutional and was never rectified at that particular moment. I won the case because I didn’t want to join politics with a tainted name.
“I then said I no longer wanted anything to do with football because I was joining politics, that is why I wrote to Mashinga-idze and Cuthbert Dube (former Zifa president) who ended up writing a letter to me in 2012 signed by Mashingaidze, that is the letter that I do have.
“For them to then start the issue of Centralgate in 2013, I am not aware of that. Nonetheless, how would people proceed and start a case two years down the line? Where are they getting the issues from if those letters are authentic? The person drawing up those letters is forgetting that at that time I was already a Councillor, I had nothing to do with football,” said Banda.
“If he (Sibanda) thinks he is clever, sizahlangana because what I know is that 70 percent of the people who vote in these elections are in my structures in the MDC and I know I will beat him hands down,” said Banda.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mashingaidze also denied any knowledge of the 2013 letters.
“I have no knowledge of the letters you are talking about. Honestly two years down the line and you call someone to a hearing, we would have lost on a technicality,” said Mashingaidze.
Banda was last week barred from contesting the elections by the Vusi Vuma-led electoral committee on the grounds that he did not pass the integrity test and was still undergoing rehabilitation having been previously banned.
His attempt to appeal against the electoral committee’s decision was also thrown out.
“As a Citizen of Zimbabwe they must allow me to exercise my constitutional right to appeal. Whether they are going to throw away the appeal is neither here nor there. I must be heard and that right can not be taken away by Mamutse (Joseph), who is the secretariat but by the Appeals committee, not the chief executive officer,” said Banda.