Home » Sports » Zifa in Fresh Bid to Close Asiagate

FOLLOWING the lifting of Sunday Chidzambwa’s ban, zifa have set a renewed deadline of end of June by which they now hope to bring to finality the long-dragging Asiagate match-fixing saga that has also proved a huge financial strain on the cash-strapped association.

Former Warriors coach Chidzambwa had been slapped with a life ban after being accused of being one of the key figures behind the match-fixing saga during his stint with the senior national team with the gaffer’s suspension only being lifted this week,.

The lifting of Chidzambwa’s ban has opened debate on the future of all the individuals fingered in the scam and handed varying penalties by zifa with questions also being posed on whether the former Dynamos coach was only an isolated special case.

zifa lawyer Ralph Maganga, however, revealed yesterday that Chidzambwa’s case had heralded the start of a final process which his association had undertaken to bring to finality the Asiagate matter and conform to a directive they received from fifa last year.

Maganga said he would be heading a zifa prosecution team that was preparing cases for the association’s disciplinary committee that will review all the sentences passed on each individual and clear those found innocent.

The Harare lawyer said although zifa’s financial constraints were pegging them back, there was g determination by all parties involved to ensure they put a lid to the Asiagate saga.

Maganga also acknowledged the flawed process which zifa had earlier undertaken in dealing with match-fixing allegations and said it was those shortcomings which his team and the disciplinary committee were moving to address and satisfy fifa’s demands.

“We are basically following the fifa’s roadmap. fifa wrote in March 2014 to say that they were unable to extend the bans to have a worldwide effect citing the reason that the Ebrahim Committee (which dealt with the matter and recommended the bans) had not complied with the fifa requirements.

“In short what fifa were saying was that the Ebrahim report was as a good as the Gumede report and it must now be taken to a disciplinary committee.

“fifa basically said take these reports to the judiciary bodies which in our case is the disciplinary committee set up in terms of our statutes.

“So the process which has commended now is to use the three investigation reports which are the two done by Gumede and the one by Justice Ebrahim to resolve this matter through the zifa judicial process which is the disciplinary committee,” Maganga said.

Maganga also admitted that the previous zifa board had erred in pronouncing the suspensions as they were not a judicial body and attributed this serious procedural flaw to one of the major reasons why fifa declined to endorse the bans to have a worldwide effect.

fifa have always insisted that the accused individuals ought to have been properly tried by a zifa judicial body.

“This his credit Judge Ebrahim had always made it clear that his independent team was not a disciplinary committee and would therefore not hand down any penalties as that was the role of a disciplinary committee.

“The fifa letter also stated that the bans remained effective locally until the disciplinary committee dealt with the matter.

“This is the process that we have now started and the prosecution team and the disciplinary committee is interviewing witnesses and recording statements so that the committee can sit and hear the cases.

“So far some people have been interviewed but I am not yet at liberty to divulge their names.

“A decision will be made after the interviews because there are some people who went to Kenya but did not go to Malaysia or Vietnam and vice-versa so the disciplinary committee will decide how they want to proceed with all the accused and whether it will be all at once or individually.

“It would be expedient to deal with all the respondents at one go but that may also prove difficult to do as not everyone may be available at the same time and it is something that we have to discuss”.

Maganga said the disciplinary committee was also expected to table to the zifa board the logistics they need to complete the task by the envisaged date of June 30.

“We have also identified the key witnesses for each particular trip so the process of interviews is the one that is resulting in some people’s cases being dropped.

“Everybody will get his day in court.

“It is not like there are certain special people but I must reiterate that is it a process.

“We have interviewed 10 people to date and we had started with some out of Harare but resources have slowed us down so now we now hope to have concluded the interviewing process of key witnesses by mid-May.

“Our initial target was to complete the hearings by end of May so we now hope to finish by the end of June except for appeals if there are any but we should not be speaking about Asiagate beyond June 30,” Maganga said.

Maganga said zifa were also looking at how best to handle the issue of the cases that were dealt with by the special appeals committee chaired by veteran lawyer Silas Chekera on the same Asiagate matter where such individuals like Method Mwanjali and Thomas Sweswe paid US$6 000 in appeal fees.

The zifa lawyer insisted that the process they had undertaken in order to fall in line with FIFA requirements would not be deterred by the court action being taken the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe.

“The majority of those involved in the Asiagate issue are players so this process we are undertaking is addressing their cases, the same way that FUZ would probably want the High Court to do”.

After Chidzambwa was cleared to resume his coaching career, a host of individuals whose images have been tainted after being fingered in the scam will now be hoping that zifa will this time stick to their renewed deadline and follow the necessary steps to truly end the matter next month.

Source : The Herald