By Lovemore Zigara
Tempers flared at a Zifa Central Soccer League (CSL) midseason review meeting held at the weekend over match-fixing allegations.
This was after prisons and correctional services side Whawha admitted to paying referees prior to their assignments in contravention of the league’s rules and regulations.
According to CSL rules, clubs must not have the identities of match officials handling their games and will only get to know them on match day.
What further raised eyebrows is the fact that Whawha chairperson Musa Ntonga is a member of the Zifa Referees’ Committee that is tasked with appointing match day referees.
Clubs accused Ntonga of using her position to give her team an unfair advantage.
Some clubs’ officials equated Ntonga’s actions to the Centralgate scandal of 2011. Centralgate stems from matches involving now defunct clubs Hardbody and Tripple B that were allegedly fixed.
The findings have never been made public, with the main protagonists in the issue being former CSL chairman Patrick Hokonya, his former Southern Region counterpart Gift Banda and Samukeliso Silengane, who was a member of the referees’ committee.
Former Zifa board member Nigel Munyati said the trio was absolved of any wrongdoing despite the findings not being made public.
CSL board member for marketing and corporate affairs Pithius Shoko said the issue was now in the hands of Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda.
“The issue was discussed to the effect that there is a club which approached referees a day before their match day to get their account numbers to facilitate match day payments. This was done outside the structures of the Zifa Central Region League management and we have taken the issue with Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda,” said Shoko.
“To worsen the situation the club, which is Whawha, has its chairperson sitting in the Zifa Referees’ Committee where she is the secretary of that committee. Clubs felt this is another Centralgate coming and under normal circumstances referees are not supposed to be known until match day,” he said.
Shoko said most clubs had made similar requests to make bank transfers and the Zifa Referees’ Committee was still working out modalities.
However, Ntonga rejected any wrongdoing, saying her club’s issue had been given the greenlight by Zifa Referees’ Committee vice-chairman Gladmore Muzambi.
“I do not see anything wrong with our actions because I communicated this with the referees’ vice-chairman Gladmore Muzambi, who gave us the greenlight. The challenge we found ourselves with was that we did not have access to cash and our internal procedures would mean that the match officials will get their money after a week if we do not deposit their money prior to the match,” said Ntonga.
Whawha are second on the league table with 34 points, four points adrift of log leaders Nichrut. Nichrut secretary Admire Hapazari called for a full investigation, saying clubs need to be promoted on merit. The Chronicle