By Petros Kausiyo
Former Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya has been fingered as the alleged mastermind behind the Asiagate scam that rocked Zimbabwean football and turned the Warriors into a punching bag of many teams in the Far East.
Rushwaya – fired by Zifa last year for “mismanagement and insubordination” following recommendations of a Labour tribunal set up by the association – is also accused of allegedly prejudicing the football mother body of over US$450 000 from proceeds of the Warriors trips to Asia.
Former Zifa president Wellington Nyatanga has also been fingered as being guilty by complicity in the match-fixing and betting scandal.
In a comprehensive report by the Zifa probe team, which investigated trips by the Warriors, Young Warriors and Monomotapa to Asia, Rushwaya was accused of being the main actress in the scam with former Zifa programmes officer Jonathan Musavengana and Fifa-registered match agent Kudzi Shaba, also featuring prominently.
Zifa vice president Ndumiso Gumede led the probe team, which also included board members – Elliot Kasu, Fungai Chihuri and Benedict Moyo. The quartet came up with a 162-page report whose findings have since been copied to Fifa, Caf, the Sport and Recreation Commission, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.
Gumede’s team also felt there was a pattern in the way the games were undertaken.
“All these trips and subsequent games undertaken have a consistency on the pattern of events and evidence/submissions made clearly indicate that all trips/matches organised to Asia and Cecafa in Kenya were for personal gains by the syndicate.
“All the personnel in particular the technical teams were into it a big way and they understood the rules of match-fixing very well and their benefits to them. It was by no fluke that someone travelled more than once to those games.”
Gumede’s team also listed the players, coaches and officials who were part of the trips and tabled the number of games they took part in during the Warriors and Young Warriors trips and also covered 2008 Premiership champions Monomotapa’s farcical tour of Malaysia in July 2009.
Former national Under-17 coach Rodwell Dhlakama and Taurai Mangwiro were in charge of Monoz when they masqueraded as the Warriors during the club’s tour of Malaysia. The coaches who took charge of the nationals teams on different occasions include former Warriors gaffer Sunday Chidzambwa, Masvingo United mentor Luke Masomere, Zifa board member development Methembe Ndlovu, Motor Action coach Joey Antipas and Emmanuel Nyahuma.
Chidzambwa was in charge of the highest number of matches together with Masomere with the veteran Black Leopards mentor also having travelled as a technical advisor to the Under-20 coaches on the Young Warriors tour of China.
Gumede’s committee noted that Rushwaya, Shaba and Musavengana, who are alleged to have been working closely with a syndicate that involved Singapore national Wilson Raj Perumal, benefited financially from the games with each individual reportedly receiving varying amounts for their roles in arranging the games.
“This report must be read in conjunction with and as an addition to the two other reports previously released by the committee set up by the Zifa board to investigate the trip taken by the national team (to Thailand) in December 2009.
“The trip was not sanctioned by Zifa or by the Sport and Recreation Commission. As seen in the previous reports, the evidence that games were fixed or thrown was overwhelmingly demonstrated in the submissions of those willing to divulge information relating to the matter. From these reports it became evident that the practice of match-fixing had started a long time ago hence the need to investigate backwards.
“Evidence adduced seemed to indicate that irregular payments started as way back as 2007 at the Merdeka Cup,” Gumede wrote. Gumede also spoke about the challenges that his committee faced in gathering their evidence due to lack of proper records at either Zifa or the Sports Commission.
“The committee had to rely heavily on other sources including archival material from the Press, travel manifests from the Civil Aviation and some officials who had maintained private copies of the delegations that they had been involved with.
“The absence of official lists at the Sport and Recreation Commission could be an indication that the games were not authorised by the Commission or even worse that the records were destroyed.”
In their findings, Gumede’s team felt that on most occasions the players, coaches and officials knew about the match-fixing and betting schemes before the Warriors went into battle.
“The former chief executive officer of Zifa Ms Henrietta Rushwaya, the former programmes officer Jonathan Musavengana and the Fifa match agent Kudzi Shaba are implicated in the arranging of these games and benefited financially, amounts that the committee could not establish.
“A Zifa junior staffer Harry Taruva was also used by the CEO. The CEO received huge payouts because if for each game match agents paid between US$30 000-50 000 then you look at the number that we played (x15 matches at least).
“The complicity of the then Zifa president Mr Wellington Nyatanga cannot be ruled out as his failure to rein in the CEO’s activities bordered on serious dereliction of authority. He let loose the CEO onto the board and association resulting in them not functioning. The CEO became untouchable and thus a mini-god.
“The Zifa president was the biggest let down as he encouraged this practice by being a recipient of loots of evils from the Merdeka Cup.
“In most cases, all the travelling delegation, be they management, technical staff, players, media and hangers-on knew what was happening and had high expectations on financial rewards with a few possible exceptions such as Luke Masomere, Energy Murambadoro, Mr (Solomon) Makuvaro and Mr (Cyril) Mukweva.”
The committee also questioned the frequent short notices that were given whenever players travelling for the matches were called up for national duty with the Warriors rarely going into camp ahead of such games. They also blasted the Nyatanga-led board for failing to end the Asiagate scam even when it had become apparent to the Zifa leadership that there were some anomalies on such matches.
“The call up of coaches at short notice with no input on what players were to form their teams and with no meaningful practice would indicate that these coaches and their technical support staff were willing participants.
“The Zifa board was a big disappointment as they watched the fiasco emerge, grow and mature under their noses with some being beneficiaries. A Fifa official described them as being answerable to the CEO instead of the CEO being answerable to them. This ineptitude led to some board members relinquishing their functions to the CEO e.g. appointment of coaches and technical staff, competition relevance and approval.
“All Zifa staff could have benefited from the scam if they received any monies over and above their meagre salaries at odd times immediately after the trip.
“The discrepancies of what amounts were paid are an indication that there were some favoured recipients and may also be an indication that in retrospect people have decided to connive but in the process being let down by those who have divulged the truth and the whole truth.
“The blameworthiness of travelling journalists cannot be underplayed while the selection process of who goes where for the media houses is their prerogative, the over reliance on one journalist for most of the games would indicate complicity.”
But it is Rushwaya who the committee claimed was the centre of the scam and the probe team indicated that they had found that:
The former CEO, Ms Rushwaya had a propensity to instill fear in her subordinates and those she dealt with through a cunning way of name-dropping in her conversations. Accordingly, she assumed a position of invincibility as she was held as a person with connections and who could make anybody’s life unbearable if the person did not play along to her whims
Players, in particular, were afraid to cross her path and amazingly board members also felt intimidated by her.
It is then not surprising that she could with assistance of Jonathan Musavengana and other Zifa junior staff, arrange the games under review, manage the logistics of travel for the entire delegation include non-footballing persons allegedly from the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) and in the process enhance her status as being untouchable
As the scam continued, it became semi-amorphous as other characters joined in to receive proceeds from the betting syndicates. A case in point is some members of the Supporters Association who would phone the syndicates’ beneficiaries and threaten them with possible arrest on returning unless a fee was paid to placate the arresting officials.
A fee would then be paid to the Supporters Association senior members. The distribution of such funds was not divulged to the investigating committee,” read part of the report. The Herald
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