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Simmons fights deportation

FORMER Zimbabwe cricket coach Phil Simmons, who was served with a deportation notice by the Immigration department last week, has filed an urgent application in the High Court to block his deportation.



“Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Simmons’ work permit was withdrawn by the Immigration department after Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) terminated his employment contract last month following his sacking as national team coach in August.


In the founding affidavit, filed in the High Court by Simmons’ lawyer Jonathan Samkange this week, the Trinidadian has been threatened with immediate detention and deportation.


Simmons is contending that detention and deportation would be unlawful and “a naked abuse of power” as he had not committed any offence which would justify such action against him.


The papers further claim that the respondent, cited as the chief immigration officer, had “shown interest in domestic internal affairs of cricket and has allowed himself to be used by ZC who themselves are acting unconstitutionally and not following proper procedure”.


The affidavit further claims that there was an underhand plan in ZC to scapegoat Simmons for allegedly belonging to a camp which is opposed to the manner in which cricket is being administered, particularly in the way funds from television rights, other electronic media rights and ICC grants were being handled.


Also attached to the court papers are separate letters written by ZC board members Macsood Ebrahim and Rick Pettipher, who has since resigned, saying no board meeting had been convened to discuss the termination of Simmons’ contract and that the directors had not agreed to terminate the contract and give current coach Kevin Curran a one-year contract.


The letters were sent to ZC chairman Peter Chingoka, managing director Ozias Bvute and human resources general manager Wilfred Mukondiwa.


The nature of Simmons’ employment with ZC has also come under the spotlight after it emerged that the West Indian was attached to ZC through a United Kingdom-based firm, Corehaven Limited, who Simmons is contracted to, and not ZC.


Mukondiwa confirmed to IndependentSport yesterday: “He was not directly contracted to us. It’s through an agent.”


Simmons’ application further states that ZC had no mandate to terminate his employment, saying the proper procedure would have been to contact his employers in the UK who would then reassign him.


Simmons is seeking an interim relief to prevent Immigration officials from canceling his work permit, and restrain them from detaining or deporting him.


 Meanwhile the ZC power struggle has taken a new twist, with three provinces distancing themselves from a plot to oust the Chingoka-led board.


Provincial chairmen last Friday held a meeting in Harare where they allegedly resolved to pass a vote of no confidence in Chingoka’s board over alleged financial irregularities and other concerns.


However, Manicaland, Midlands and Masvingo have since written to Chingoka distancing themselves from the coup plot.


Caesar Bond Nayoto, on behalf of Midlands clubs, disowned Tim Savory, who attended the chairmen’s meeting as the provincial chairman.


“It has come to our attention that Mr Tim Savory passed a vote of no confidence on the current ZC board,” Nayoto said. “I would like to mention that Mr Savory does not represent the Midlands Cricket Association.”


The Midlands clubs have also through their lawyers challenged Savory’s mandate as the province’s chairman.


The Masvingo board, whose chairman Ebrahim was part of the provincial chairmen’s meeting last week, claimed it had “learnt with shock” about the vote of no confidence. They said Ebrahim had not consulted his board.


Manicaland board member Phillip Matiza and representatives of three clubs in the province wrote a joint letter denouncing their board chairman Allan Walsh’s “unilateral decisions and actions”.


However, a spokesman for the chairmen who preferred anonymity said they had not yet passed a vote of no confidence in Chingoka’s leadership, but were still compiling a comprehensive petition with their grievances and “the way forward”. – Staff Writers.

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