FORMER Zimbabwe national football coach Sunday Chidzambwa has taken the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) to court to recover unpaid salaries amounting to US$67 000, a move that could disrupt the federation’s hunt for a new substantive coach.
Chidzambwa’s lawsuit comes at a critical stage when Zifa is under pressure to immediately appoint a new coach to prepare the Warriors for the 2012 African Nations Cup qualifiers.
The Warriors open their campaign away to Liberia on September 4.
Financially-troubled Zifa now have the unenviable task of convincing potential candidates that they will be paid in full, and on time.
A frustrated Chidzambwa quit his job as Warriors coach in April, but only after he had secured a new deal to coach South African premiership side Free State Stars.
High Court papers obtained by IndependentSport state that Chidzambwa was only paid US$23 000 out of a total US$90 000 between November 1 2008 — when he was appointed national coach for a second spell — and last April when he resigned.
Chidzambwa’s lawyer, Godfrey Mamvura of Scanleen & Holderness, said his client took the legal route after the new Zifa board failed to honour its pledge to pay him.
“On the 2nd of July, 2010, the defendant’s legal practitioners wrote a letter to the plaintiff’s legal practitioners advising them that the new Zifa board is willing and able to settle the plaintiff’s unpaid salaries. Despite this assurance the defendant has neglected to pay
to the plaintiff the outstanding sum of US$ 67 000,” reads the court papers.
The Zifa board is scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss, among other issues, the appointment of a new Warriors coach. A board source said a new coach would be chosen at the meeting.
“No negotiations have started with anyone,” said the source. “But on Saturday, after the meeting, we would have settled on a name.”
It’s hard to see how the board intends to appoint the coach that early when they have not been talking to any candidate.
The new Zifa board is reportedly in favour of a high-profile foreigner to take over from caretaker coach Norman Mapeza, but as things stand, the association does not have financial resources to afford such a coach.
“Ability to pay is a major concern,” said the source. “We need someone right now. We were interested in a high-profile coach, but we don’t have money. The option is to appoint someone who is available to start immediately. We don’t have that much time.”
With Zifa broke, yet keen on a foreign coach, they appear to have an alternative: appoint German national Klaus-Dieter Pagels, who will come to work in Zimbabwe on a bilateral arrangement between Zimbabwe and the German Federal government. But it is an option the board seems not willing to take.
“He is a technical advisor. The arrangement is not for him to be coach,” said the source. “He is going to be involved in development, which is important. It’s an important thing to have a long-term strategy on how to develop a team that’s good enough to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He is still to sit down with Zifa to work out a development programme. If we fail to start the programme, we will find ourselves unprepared. This is a top priority.”