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Date: 23 April 2019

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Saintfeit's work permit not approved

[Posted 11 Nov 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Tom Saintfeit has reportedly failed in his bid to get a work permit to coach Zim"s Warriors

Reports on Thursday indicated that the Belgian coach Tom Saintfeit, who was appointed Zimbabwe national team coach in August this year has failed to get a work permit to take up his role as the Warriors coach.

News doing the rounds in Zimbabwe and South Africa has it that the department of Immigration has turned down Saintfeit's application for a work permit to coach the national team.

While the Zimbabwe-based newspaper The Chronicle reported that Saintfeit's work permit was still being processed by the Immigration department, South Africa's was bold enough to declare that the Belgian's permit application has failed.

Saintfeit has been staying out of the country awaiting the finalisation of his work permit which has been taking longer than expected to be processed.

In October, the Belgian national was thrown out of Zimbabwe for violating the immigration laws by conducting training sessions without the requisite papers. He was taken to Botswana from where he stayed for a few days before resurfacing in Namibia.

Saintfeit was Brave Warriors' (Namibia's national soccer team) coach before he jumped ship to join fellow Southern African nation Zimbabwe's Warriors in August. His move created acrimony between the two COSAFA nations' FAs.

A letter purpotedly from the Principal Director of Immigration, Clemence Masango to ZIFA, spells out Saintfeit's fate.

"Reference is made to the application for temporary employment permit submitted in respect of the above-named (Saintfiet Tom Julianus Maria).

"I regret to advise that discretion has not been exercised in terms of Section 22 (1) (a) of the Immigration Regulations SI 195 of 1998 and consequently a temporary employment permit has not been approved.

"It is now necessary that the above-named should go with his letter to his/her nearest immigration office so that departure arrangements can be made, read part of the letter which is in possession of. argued in early October that the real reason for the delay of Saintfeit's work pemit was because of the fact that ZIFA had failed to prove to the department of Immigration  why Saintfeit, a foreign national should be appointed ahead of some national coaches who could potentially do a similar job.

It is a requirement of the law that an employer who is motivating for the employment of a foreign national should satisfy Immigration department of the exceptional skills that the foreign applicant possesses which local applicants lack.

While ZIFA could potentially have argued for the appointment of Saintfeit based on his UEFA coaching qualifications, in football, what makes a coach who has more than 10 years of coaching experience at international level attractive are results, an area in which Saintfeit sadly fell short.

Meanwhile, former Warriors winger Madinda Ndlovu will be acting coach when Zimbabwe takes on neighbours Mozambique in a friendly match in Maputo on 17 November. He is likely to be assisted by Taurai Mangwiro and Friday Phiri, Under 20 and Under 23 coaches respectively.

Norman Mapeza, who resigned last week, will not be part of the technical team that will travel to Maputo, despite that fact the ZIFA board is yet to received even accepted his resignation.

Barring any surprises, if Saintfeit's application has failed and if ZIFA decides not to appeal the decision, this development is set to torch speculation as to who will be appointed Warriors coach, with the Belgian presumably now out of the way.

His shortcomings aside, some sections of the Warriors fans hoped that this whole saga of the national team coach would come to rest and Saintfeit would be given the opportunity to prove what he can offer Zimbabwean football.

Tom appears to have genuinely fallen in love with Zimbabwe, and perhaps the sensible thing to do would have been to afford him the chance to prove himself.

But Saintfeit's loss will be celebrated by those who were seriously eyeing the job that ZIFA had awarded to be Belgian.

Nigerian soccer legend Stephen Keshi recently lost the battle to coach the Super Eagles to his former team mate Samson Siasia last Thursday.

Keshi was reported to have been interested in the Warriors' post, but at the same time he emerged as a strong contender for the Eagles post. It will be understandable if he renews his interest in the Warriors' job.

ZIFA has not confirmed whether they intend to appeal the decisiion of the Immigration department or not. The national soccer mother body still needs to decide if they will re-advertise the Warriors post and call for new applications.

As it stands, ZIFA has serious decision-making to do regarding Zimbabwe's top soccer job.

The failed application for Saintfeit's work permit, while it is a bad thing for ZIFA, there could be a silver lining in that outcome. It could provide a chance to put all the controversy surrounding appointment of the Warriors coach to rest. 

ZIFA could now get an opportunity to consider new coaching candidates such as Rahman Gumbo, one of the best coaches ever to emerge from Zimbabwe in the recent years.

Gumbo is unlikely to turn down the offer to coach the Warriors if ZIFA are prepared to match what he is earning in Botswana or what the association was prepared to pay Saintfeit.


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