Zifa board member and Southern Region chairman Gift Banda has denied his alleged involvement in the match-fixing scandal that has rocked the Central Region.
Banda and Central Region chairman Patrick Hokonya have been accused of involvement in the match-fixing scam by some for the referees who were handling Central Region Division One matches together with suspended Zifa Referees’ Committee vice-chairperson Samukeliso Silengane.
Silengane was suspended with the committees’ Southern and Central Region representatives Cosmas Nyoni and Cedric Raisi in a meeting convened by acting chairman of the referees committee Ndumiso Gumede at Zifa Offices in Bulawayo on November 19.
The suspensions were confirmed by a Zifa board meeting last Friday, although Silengane has engaged lawyers to fight her case arguing the suspension was unlawful.
In an interview with NewsDay Sport on Wednesday, Banda queried why the suspended Nyoni changed his statements on three different occasions when he was questioned by the Central Region Committee about the alleged match-fixing.
“Nyoni wrote an affidavit denying everything about match-fixing the first time. A week later he pinpointed Silengane and then the third time he said me and Hokonya wanted Tripple B to be promoted ahead of Hardbody. Why would he change his statement three times and why would Silengane investigate Nyoni if they were working together?” he said.
Banda denied having met with Nyoni.
“I have never met Cosmas Nyoni, let alone entered into a conversation with him or anything like that. As chairman of the Southern Region these are very grave accusations against me. I am prepared to step down if there is a hearing and these allegations are found to be true. I would have done a disservice to football if I did that. But I know I am clean,” he said.
Banda said the problem with local football was that the law was not applied fairly.
“As the Zifa board we have failed because people are suspended before a hearing. An example is Asiagate where only three people have been suspended so far. This is a sign of how partially our laws are applied in investigations,” said Banda.
Vice-president Kenny Marange, board member (development) Methembe Ndlovu and Northern Region chairman Solomon Mugavazi were suspended from all football activities pending their appearance before an ethics committee chaired by Justice Ahmed Ebrahim.
Banda and Hokonya have been implicated in the scam by referees in Hardbody and Tripple B matches.
Hardbody had 42 points docked for allegedly using an ineligible player, but have since appealed against the decision. Tripple B, who finished second in the league, have not been confirmed champions after the appeal by Hardbody.
The latest developments are likely to spark a storm within Zifa with some now questioning how board president Cuthbert Dube rose to the highest office in football after a landslide 36-1 victory over main challenger Leslie Gwindi.
Allegations of serious vote-buying have been levelled at the entire process which took place in March 2010.