A dark cloud of uncertainty hangs over the passing of the appeals verdict of the Central Region Division One teams Hardbody-Tripple B match-fixing case.
The matter — which was heard on December 9 in Harare by the Zifa Appeals Committee comprising of Timothy Sangarwe, Tererai Gunje and one Mabhundu. The verdict has delayed the crowning of Central Region Division One champions.
Zifa has not come forward to explain the long wait.
Yesterday, Zifa communications officer Nicky Dhlamini said the committee “might” pass the verdict today or tomorrow.
“Honestly I do not know why this is taking long, but I will meet them on Friday (today) and I am sure I will know then. Officially, Zifa offices are closed for the holidays until January 3, but a few staff are reporting for duty at the moment,” said Dhlamini.
This has fuelled speculation the ruling would only be made known after January 3. Central Region leaders Hardbody were in November found guilty by the region’s disciplinary committee of using a fraudulently registered player, Tatenda Chingara, and docked three points in each of the 14 games they fielded the midfielder, translating to a staggering 42 points.
This briefly allowed second-placed Tripple B — who were trailing the busmen by three points — to be confirmed as champions before Hardbody filed an appeal which effectively suspended the judgment.
The two clubs involved in the saga have responded differently to the delay.
“We are patient. We are new in these things and whatever outcome, we will just accept it,” said Tripple B secretary Gibson Makhanda. Hardbody wants the verdict “yesterday”.
“We need to know the verdict soon so that we prepare for the next season for whatever league we would be playing in,” said Hardbody Press and liaison officer Tapiwa Shoko.
Various theories for the delay have been tossed around with some quarters in the region claiming some papers for the disciplinary hearing held in Gweru were missing, while others were saying the hearing was unconstitutional under Zifa statutes.
The match-fixing saga has opened a can of worms which has seen the Central Region chairman Patrick Hokonya and his Southern Region counterpart Gift Banda being suspended by Zifa president Cuthbert Dube.
Dube has also suspended his vice-president Kenny Marange, Northern Region chairman Solomon Mugavazi and board member (development) Methembe Ndlovu for their alleged involvement in Asiagate.
They are scheduled to appear before an Ethics Committee chaired by Ahmed Ebrahim.
The Hardbody-Tripple B case is also linked to the defamation case instituted by Banda against former referee Cosmas Nyoni-named in Asiagate as well — and is set to continue in Bulawayo on January 31.
The delay in determining winners of the Central Region means whoever gets the ticket into the top flight has very little time in putting up a strong team for the more rigorous Premier League campaign next season.