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Mwanjali, Zhokinyi curse

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FORMER Warriors captain Method Mwanjali and Dynamos skipper Guthrie Zhokinyi were initially given 10-year bans from all football-related activities, but the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) upgraded their status to life prohibitions, NewsDay Sport can reveal.

Report by Daniel Nhakaniso

The duo are part of the 15 players and officials who were last week banned for life from all football-related activities for their alleged role in the match-fixing scam during the national team’s controversial tours to Asia in 2009.

The bans are expected to have a worldwide effect, once enforced by world football governing body Fifa and the Confederation of African Football.

According to the 128-page report by the Ebrahim Commission, titled Asiagate Report, dated October 11, 2012, the Independent Ethics Committee chaired by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ahmed Ebrahim had recommended 10-year bans for Mwanjali and Zhokinyi.

Zhokinyi, who was left out of the Dynamos squad for their Mbada Diamonds Cup quarter-final at the weekend, captained the national side that took part at the 2009 Cecafa tournament in Kenya where some matches are alleged to have been fixed.

He was found guilty in respect of that particular tournament.
The commission noted that he was instrumental in negotiations about money to be paid and recommended a 10-year ban.

But Zifa slapped a life ban on the defender when finalising the sentences.

“He was the captain at the Cecafa tournament and was instrumental in negotiations about money to be received, about which he was truthful. He rallied his troops in the wrong direction. Although he has been found guilty in respect of only one tournament, as captain he ought to have known better.

“His moral blameworthiness is high and he deserves to be out of football for a long time. We recommend a ten-year ban on taking part in any football-related activity,” read Zhokinyi’s recommended verdict.

Mwanjali, whose future at South African club Mamelodi Sundowns is now in jeopardy following the bans, was also a victim of Zifa’s “upgrading” system.

The utility player recently said he was being used as a scapegoat in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal.

According to the document, the former Shabanie Mine and Caps United defender captained the national side in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.

In passing their recommended judgment, the commission said they had taken into consideration Mwanjali’s contribution to local football.

“He was in Vietnam and he was the captain in Thailand and Malaysia for the ‘holiday’ tour, but he did not effectively play the role as captain. In his favour is the fact that he has contributed immensely to Zimbabwean football. Having been involved in two fixed tours, we consider that he should be out of football for a long time. We recommend a ten-year ban on taking part in any football-related activity,” read the report.

Mwanjali and Zhokinyi were not the only players whose recommended judgments were changed by Zifa for better or for worse.

The committee had recommended a life ban for Democratic Republic of Congo-based striker Darryl Nyandoro before Zifa reduced his sentence to just five years. The committee described the former Monomotapa defender as a “habitual offender” who deserved a life ban.

“He has no part in Zimbabwe football. He took part in the Monomotapa tours of Malaysia and Tunisia and then the Cecafa tournament in Kenya. Like Sweswe (Thomas), he became a habitual offender. We recommend a life ban from taking part in any football-related activity,” read the recommendation.

Sundowns striker Nyasha Mushekwi got a lighter sentence of one year for travelling to Malaysia because “he was very young at the time he participated in the ‘holiday’ tour.

“He feigned injury to be able to withdraw from the match, and this is to his credit. He did, however, accept payment of money which was not due”.

Suspended Warriors coach Norman Mapeza got a six-month ban because “he dissociated himself from the scam, but allowed other players to participate. He should have shown more leadership”.

It also emerged in the official report that fingered referees Cosmas Nyoni, Christopher Manuel, Masimba Chihowa and Kenny Marange were absolved by the Ebrahim Commission on the grounds that “we can make no findings against referees”.

But the four referees were not among the list which was publicised by Zifa last week, implying that they might be “upgraded”.

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