Asiagate — the match-fixing scam that has rocked Zimbabwe since 2007— moved a step closer to its conclusion after Justice Ahmed Ebrahim was unveiled as the chairman of the six-man Zifa Independent Disciplinary Ad Hoc Committee.
The other members of the committee, commissioned by Zifa president Cuthbert Dube yesterday, are lawyers John Reid-Rowland (author of the book Criminal Procedure in Zimbabwe) and Tererai Gunje of Chasakara and Gunje law firm.
Former Police Assistant Commissioner Emmanuel Chimwanda and former Sports and Recreation Commission chairman Gibson Mashingaidze are also in the committee.
Former referee and Fifa panellist Kenny Sigoba was also named in the committee. Another legal practitioner, Lewis Uriri, will represent the national association when the committee starts conducting interviews with players, coaches and administrators.
Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Paul Gundani was also present during the commissioning and will be consulted time and again as players constitute the bulk of the personnel to be interviewed.
The committee convened their first meeting immediately after the commissioning.
Ebrahim acknowledged the mammoth task ahead for his committee.
“We have a mammoth task in investigating almost 80 players and an array of officials. This investigation covers a period in excess of three years and cannot be completed overnight.
“Please be patient, it will take time, but we will do our best and complete this as soon as we can. The football season ends next month and will restart in March (2012), so we will have some time to do this,” Ebrahim, a former Zimbabwe Cricket vice-chairman, said.
The committee will draw up their calendar of activities, appoint each other to the positions of vice-chairman, secretary and committee members, conduct and record hearings from individuals.
The committee will also pronounce sanctions for individuals in terms of the Zifa and Fifa statutes, submit findings and recommendations to the Zifa Board for enforcement of the sanctions.
Zifa president Dube reiterated the independence of the committee and zero tolerance stance on match-fixing, saying there would be no sacred cows.
“There will be no interference at all; they will execute their decisions freely and the Fifa statutes will guide them,” he said.
The committee, using the Zifa and Fifa statutes and code of ethics, shall establish through the hearings, which persons committed crimes against football and what kind of sanctions should be preferred against the individuals concerned.
The findings and judgments passed down by the committee shall be communicated to the individuals by the Zifa Board, who in turn shall request Cosafa, Caf and Fifa to have the sanctions adopted globally.
“Individuals found guilty of throwing matches and illegal betting would face heavy sanctions as presented by the Zifa and Fifa statutes.
“Football cannot be defaced by selfish, shameless, corrupt, unpatriotic and morally bankrupt individuals for a mere 30 pieces of silver.
At the same time, this is in an opportunity for individuals to be cleared or otherwise of their involvement in the scandal,” Dube said.
The committee will start their work, basing their starting point on the two reports produced by the Ndumiso Gumede-led investigating committee and their work is part of the agenda for this Friday’s special board meeting.
The meeting will also look at the Warriors’ failure to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in January and February.
Zimbabwe finished third with eight points in a Group A that was won by Mali after the Eagles just pipped Cape Verde for the sole ticket to the Nations Cup.
The Warriors lost the final match 2-1 to Cape Verde. The Warriors, under Norman Mapeza, paid the price for Zifa’s disorganisation in the two games against the Cape Verde.
The first in Harare ended in a 0-0 draw after the national association appointed Mapeza and Madinda Ndlovu to co-coach the team after initial target, Belgian Tom Saintfiet, had been deported after violating immigration laws.
According to the agenda of the meeting sent out by Zifa communications manager Nicky Dhlamini, the board will also discuss the revival of Zifa (Pvt) Ltd and the hosting of the 2012 Confederation of African Football (Caf) Women’s Championships.
Yesterday’s commissioning was attended by Members of Parliament Jefferyson Chitando and Marvelous Khumalo who sit on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of Education, Arts, Sport and Culture, Zifa lawyer Ralph Maganga and honorary member Cornelius Bganya.
Zifa Board members Elliot Kasu (finance), Mavis Gumbo (women) and Nigel Munyati (marketing) were also present.