Farai Kuvirimirwa and Caroline Magenga
HARARE businessman Twine Phiri’s capacity to run Caps United has been put into question after it emerged that he is set to lose a car and an assortment of office furniture next week for failing to pay a debt owed to a local firm. The Premier Soccer League chairman faces a humiliation in public in his fallout with Digitech Brand Communications who took him to court for his failure to settle the debt.
Digitech Brand Communications assists clients in developing creative marketing and branding solutions.
The company sought legal recourse and won their two cases against Phiri leading to the attachment of the property by the Messenger of Court.
One of the cases involves a debt of $1,920 while the other case, and the magnitude of the debt involved, could not be established last night but that a Land Rover vehicle was attached appears to suggest that it could be substantial.
A debt of $1,920 is equivalent to a month’s salaries for two players at Caps United.
Phiri, through his company Twin Con, and an unidentified person, owe Digitech Brand Communications.
Twin Con was the holding company that Phiri used to buy his controlling stake in Caps United Football Club from CAPS Holdings at the turn of the millennium.
A Land Rover Freelander vehicle, registration number ABG 9517, is part of the property set to go under the hammer at a public auction by Ruby Auctions next week.
The other property include an HP office-jet premium printer, wooden display unit, round table, three piece Dell computer set, four swivel chairs, WRS television, HP laptop, four drawer wooden cabinet, dismantled table, two office desks and two wooden cabinets.
Phiri is not new to controversy after his estranged wife of 16 years dragged him to the courts this year where she was awarded a $2,913 maintenance order on February 17, by Chitungwiza Civil Court magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta.
Phiri later made an appeal through his lawyers Rubaya and Chatambudza Legal Practitioners, before Chitungwiza magistrate Lazarus Murendo reserved judgment.
He said his application was for the suspension of a portion of maintenance order in terms of Section 27 (3) of the Maintenance Act (Chapter 5:09).
“The noting of an appeal in terms of this section shall not, pending the determination of the appeal, suspend the decision appealed against,” reads part of the Act.
Phiri said he had been married to his wife Keresiya Phiri for the past 16 years and the marriage still subsisted.
The ruling was later made in the magistrate’s chambers.
Our Harare Bureau has since learnt that Keresiya is also demanding, as part of the final settlement, 20 percent of the shareholding of Phiri’s stake in Caps United.
Phiri owns 75 percent of Caps United with his partner Farai Jere owning 25 percent of the Premiership club.
If Keresiya is granted an order giving her 20 percent of Phiri’s shareholding, then she will effectively become a third shareholder of the club, splitting the ownership as follows — 60 percent for Phiri, 25 percent for Jere and 15 percent for Keresiya.
Phiri has also been battling waves of revolts in his camp by players demanding their outstanding dues in salaries and winning bonuses.
Things almost came to a standstill in the last two months when players twice refused to board a bus to fulfil league assignments.
The Green Machine players almost boycotted their away match to Chapungu, which they subsequently lost 3-0, and then staged another rebellion ahead of their trip to Bulawayo for a date against Bantu Rovers recently.
Caps United last year also used their players as security and gambled on potential earnings, which could be generated from proceeds from transfers both at home and abroad, as collateral to unlock a raft of interest-free loans from an investor that the Premiership giants used to service their operations.
The Green Machine committed themselves to pursue an aggressive strategy to try and sell their top stars as part of the grand plan to bring in funds into the club to enable Caps United to dissolve the debt it owed to the investor who pumped $52,000 into the team’s coffers last year.
The money is still outstanding and was used for various commitments at the club including, but not limited to, direct operational costs like incentives, the cost of surgery performed on Tawanda “Rambo” Munyanduri and Tawanda Nyamandwe, their physiotherapy sessions, payment for training grounds and lunches for the team.
In return Caps United committed themselves to cede the club’s rights to any transfer earnings that could be realised from the local or international transfer of their players as part of their package to pay back the loans to the investor who is also a fan of the Green Machine.
Phiri, in his capacity as executive chairman, and former chief executive Joe Makuvire, signed the agreement with the investor, who has chosen to keep his identity a secret for fear of being targeted by other fans given his other interests as a supporter of the club, in Harare on August 29, last year.
The Green Machine also committed themselves, alternatively, to cede their rights to any prize money that could be earned by the club, for the duration of the loan period, and channel it towards the settlement of the debt until the last cent had been paid back.
Makepekepe took home $45,000 for being runners-up in the Mbada Diamonds Cup and also pocketed a further $24,000, at the end of the season, after the Green Machine finished fifth in the championship race and, according to the agreement, part of this money should have gone towards liquidating that debt but it didn’t.
Caps United committed themselves to paying the debt by February 28, this year but when the day came and passed, without payment being done or any players being sold to generate funds to direct towards such payment, the investor decided to take legal action against the club.
The investor’s lawyers, Zimbodza and Associates, have written to Phiri demanding payment of that outstanding amount.
“Our client advises us that at your special instance and request he advanced to you a loan of $52,000 to finance your football club,” read the letter from the lawyers.
“You entered and signed with our client a letter of guarantee wherein you undertook to pay back the money, among other guarantees, on or before the 28th February 2014.
“On 28th of February you were reminded of the debt and called upon to liquidate it, which you totally ignored. We are instructed to demand, as we hereby do:
a) Payment of $52,000
b) 10 percent collection commission in the said sum within five days of receipt of this letter failing which we are instructed to proceed to court without any further communication to you.”