. . . ex-Zifa boss refuses to co-operate
Former Zifa chief executive officer, Henrietta Rushwaya has declined to co-operate with the local football mother body in a match-fixing investigation, where she is accused of plotting to manipulate the outcome Warriors’ Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) 2017 qualifiers against Swaziland, among other allegations.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Zifa have charged Rushwaya, together with the mother body’s former programmes officer, Jonathan Musavengana, former Warriors coach Ian Gorowa, player agent Kudzi Shaba, Hwange coach Nation Dube and Edzai Kasinauyo, who was recently relived of his duty as an executive committee member in the country’s supreme football body.
Rushwaya has responded by saying she will not be dragged to any disciplinary hearing by Zifa, since she is not employed by the association.
She has challenged Zifa to instead charge its CEO, Jonathan Mashingaidze with corruption.
Zifa allege Rushwaya was the central figure in a plan to manipulate Warriors’ defeats in their two matches against Swaziland last month, where the team eventually prevailed, winning one and drawing the other.
Zifa wrote to Rushwaya on March 24, advising her of the commencement of disciplinary proceedings, but the former football boss, through her lawyer, Charles Chinyama, responded by advising the country’s football mother body that “both Fifa and Zifa statutes only apply to serving members and members of affiliate organisations to the two entities”, to which Rushwaya is not.
In a two-page letter dated April 1, 2016 addressed to Zifa, Rushwaya’s lawyer said: “You will agree with us that after allegations of corruption having been levelled against you (Mashingaidze) by our client (Rushwaya), the most honourable thing to have been done by you, as Mashingaidze,was to advise the Zifa board that you cannot yourself attend to writing such a letter given the allegations.
“That, our client is not a member of Zifa or any affiliate, thereof, which can possibly bring her to fall within the administration of Zifa, let alone Fifa, in terms of the governing statutes, if any.”
Rushwaya was categorical that she would not attend any disciplinary hearing.
“We, therefore, advise that you have no authority whatsoever to institute any disciplinary hearing with a view to discipline a non-member since your statutes are not of universal application or national application. Therefore, any attempted disciplinary action against our client will be an exercise in futility and we shall not lose sleep over that, neither shall we be made to attend any purported hearing which may be viewed as giving credence to a nullity by the general public,” the lawyer continued.
Zifa have since made a police report over the corruption allegations, but none of the accused have been questioned.
Unlike in South Africa, where the same group is accused of having been involved in match-fixing, in Zimbabwe there is no law specific to throwing matches.
Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane has since called for the arrest of those implicated in the scandal.
“The police must get involved. A person who does this is the worst saboteur. There’s no difference between this and an act of treason. The law must take its course,” he was quoted saying.
Rushwaya was implicated in the Asiagate scandal, where she was accused of being the mastermind in fixing the Warriors matches in Asia.
The case collapsed following Zifa’s failure to follow its disciplinary codes when they hired an independent body to conduct investigations.
Rushwaya then received a life ban from football, which was lifted in January, after the Philip Chiyangwa-led executive committee, assumed office.
Rushwaya’s lawyer also made reference to the Asiagate case, which Zifa has resuscitated against her.
“Further, you will notice that our client was once the subject of disciplinary hearing for the Asiagate scandal and consequent to such discipline, which took place at a time when she was a member of Zifa, she received a ban from football, which was later set aside by the Chiyangwa administration,” the lawyer said.
Chinyama said Rushwaya could not be tried in retrospect for offences allegedly committed between 2007 and 2010, when the match-fixing issues were not even offences in Zimbabwe.
“Further, still on your count one, let us bring to your attention that the Zifa rules and regulations of 2015 cannot apply in retrospect to cover for a gap/lacuna that existed from 2007 to 2010 to the extent of allowing the same regulations to be used to punish a person for an act that happened between 2007 and 2010, when the conduct complained of then was not an offence. Please kindly take (legal) advice,” Chinyama said.
The lawyer also expressed displeasure at the alleged continued reference to Rushwaya as “Zifa secretary-general on suspension”, saying it was giving a wrong impression of his client.
“Yet in truth and in fact the Zifa secretary-general is now Mashingaidze, as per his signature in the letter of March 24, 2016, which accepts the fact that Mashingaidze is not acting chief executive officer, but permanent.”