ZIMBABWE is never short of drama. One may look at it from a political, religious, economic or social point of view and still come to the same valuation.
Over the last week, newspapers have bristled with the football match-fixing scandal and, according to indications, it would appear the alleged match-fixers are in real trouble this time around.
Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa has been fuming, vowing that this time, the match-fixers would fall.
The same anger has been palpable in radio interviews held; virtually everyone is angry and rightly so.
To think that people leave their homes in droves, carry the national flag, travel distances, at times flying out of the country footing costs from their own pockets and shouting their lungs out to support and cheer in a pre-determined losing cause is heartbreaking and infuriating.
The recent wave of allegations has seen Zifa board member Edzai Kasinauyo being suspended alongside Warriors assistant coach Nation Dube, following allegations of a plot to fix the upcoming 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers between Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
Former Zifa chief executive officer Henrietta Rushwaya and ex-Warriors coach Ian Gorowa have also been fingered as key players in the scandal, which was allegedly masterminded by convicted notorious match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal’s younger brother, only known as “Chief”, from his South African base.
Now, it must be clear that this is not the first time a match-fixing scandal has hit the soccer-loving nation of Zimbabwe at such a magnitude.
We are all aware of the Asiagate scandal which, after all the hype, suspensions and life bans on players and officials, crumbled like a deck of cards because of procedural irregularities in handling the cases.
For a moment, Zimbabweans thought that would be the end of the ugly game of fixing matches, but alas, here we are today with sordid details from yet another scandal involving people entrusted with administering the beautiful game.
But are we not witnessing yet another case of much ado about nothing? Will this yield the much-needed end result of termination of the unholy practice of match-fixing?
Are we not likely to end up at the same place that we found ourselves at a few years ago with all the bans and suspensions coming to naught?
Has Zifa not put the cart before the horse by having the matter all over before the hearings?
It would appear all that exists now are allegations and purported “damning evidence” against the culprits, but just like the previous scandal, there is no denying that hype has preceded proper fact-finding.
A few years back when the first scandal broke, there was much noise and much misdirected action to the detrimental effect that the cases died a natural death.
Effort was expended in shouting the allegations and the outcomes culminated in nothing.
It is understood that Zifa’s case is constructed on the information provided by their “key witness”, Leeroy Waguta, a Harare socialite with links to current and former footballers.
Wasn’t it wise for Zifa to have handled the matter with extreme privacy, meanwhile, putting a tight lid on their investigations as to conclusively expose the culprits officially before the matter spilt into the public domain as things now stand.
Legally, every accused person has a right to have their side of the story heard before they are condemned; that is a principle of natural justice.
Gorowa would, therefore, be well within his rights to strongly warn people of lawsuits because what Zifa has are mere allegations and a dossier of evidence, which is yet to go through a proper hearing.
As a nation, we seem to have replicated the all-too-common emotive behaviour, which winds up in nothing, but lawsuits by those accused.
Just a week ago, we found how self-defeating emotional responses are in handling sensitive cases.
There was so much hype created about the model who was humiliated in the media for allegedly deliberately infecting a young boy with her HIV-infected blood.
Her traumatic ordeal grabbed headlines for the better part of this month, only for things to turn the other way when she was found not guilty.
This is not to argue for those accused of fixing matches, but it is a call for the proper handling of the matter; any bungling as in the past would result in the waste of time, effort and resources. The country should effectively deal with this cancer. Zifa should tread softly and carefully and not act on the whims of emotion.
Chiyangwa, in principle, is right that match-fixers should go down this time, but it is critical that proper laid-down procedures are followed to the letter, otherwise the nation would yet again find itself licking wounds as happened with the first match-fixing scandal.
Learnmore Zuze is a legal researcher, author and media analyst. He writes here in his own capacity.