Ernest ‘Mapepa’ Sibanda speaks on Asiagate
ERNEST “MAPEPA” SIBANDA, the former Warriors’ manager, travelled with a Zimbabwe Select side to Malaysia for the Merdeka Cup in 2007 and, on March 26, he wrote the following submission to the Zifa committee investigating Asiagate.
The letter, written to committee chairman Ndumiso Gumede, is contained in the final Asiagate report.
Ernest “Mapepa” Sibanda’s Letter
As per our agreement on the 19th March 2011 at Zifa House in Bulawayo in connection with the visits by Zimbabwe national team to certain games in Asia, I won’t be 100 percent correct as this has taken a while.
I took a trip to Malaysia for a Merdeka Tournament which kicked off on 19/08/2007 to 30/08/2007. Mr Musavengana (called) me to bring two players from this Region as we were to take part in this Merdeka Tournament.
(I) was told that (we would) be having new technical team being led by Mr S. Chidzambwa. We went straight to the airport. When we arrived and collected our playing and training kit from Zifa, as is the norm, I had to appoint E. Nyahuma to be in charge of kit.
(I) kindly asked the programmes officer about our allowances for the trip and was advised that we will be given by the host when we get there. Our HOD was Mr G. Japajapa. As we got to Harare Airport, we boarded, and went via South Africa where we were given e-tickets to Singapore. As we got to Singapore, one of our players did not proceed because of a problem with his passport. He was returned back (sic).
We were met at the airport by four people and the leader was Rajah. We were taken to the Grand Bluewave Shah Alam Hotel. As we were going for training, we saw those people, whom we had met at the airport, booked at the same floor with us.
We thought they were security. We proceeded for our training and, on our way back, we got the announcement that the Zifa president (Wellington Nyatanga) was in and would like to meet the team, as is the norm.
That night Rajah and his team were all over the room players (sic), talking to them, talking to us. He said he was just an agent but he seemed to be more than what he said he was. He was the person who was going to give us the allowances, etc. and we were told that the Association would get US$10 000 and they would pay the players, and our allowances would come from the Head of Delegation.
As it was an Independence Tournament, we did not take it serious but we were worried as Rajah was now talking a lot to the players. For the first game, players were told instructions by Rajah and, for that, each player was paid US$1 000. At half-time, officials got US$1 500 each. As we proceeded, that was the norm and, as we finished, players got approximately between US$5000 and US$6000 each and officials got US$7000 and US$8 000 each.
After this tournament, we then went to Yemen.
On this one, we were only paid camping allowances as per Zifa constitution. On this trip we were with the CEO as the head of delegation. After this trip, I was fired and all that happened then, I was not part of it.
Hope this information would help you in your investigations. I wish you a wonderful 2011 season. Go Warriors Go. Would always be behind you (sic).
Zifa Investigating Committee’s Report Of Interview With Sibanda (Date not Given, Time – From 08.45am to 07.03pm)
Chairman – Thank you for coming at such a short notice. The committee would want you to be open and frank about the trips that you undertook with the national teams, from 2007 up to current. We are primarily investigating the Asia trips, which brought our football to shame.
Sibanda – Thank you very much. It is my wish and it is crucial for Zimbabwe to get the truth about these match-fixing games which took place. I shall be open to my best of recollection. I went to Malaysia for Merdeka Cup in 2007 and Yemen. For Merdeka Tournament I had to bring with me two players from Bulawayo. The HOD was Japajapa Godfrey. We arrived in Singapore and met Rajah and then boarded a bus to Malaysia. That same night, the officials were taken for a drink by Rajah. Rajah and his team were in free communication with our players. Rajah said they were going to pay the players for the Independence Tournament and noone else.
I was not worried about anything because of our set-up at that moment. Everything looked good. During our first match, we were paid our money at half-time when we were actually losing 0-2. We were told to concede another two goals in the second half. We were, by then, US$1 000 each richer. After the game, we were paid US$1 000 each, to the players, and US$1 400 to the technical team each. This was irresistible due to the financial meltdown in Zimbabwe by then. Mr Wellington Nyatanga, the then Zifa President, came to visit us just for the opening game and pocketing US$10 000, or so I was made to understand. He spent only one night and his room was then taken by head coach Sunday Chidzambwa.
We also had, as part of our delegation, Mr Robson Sharuko and Josh Munthali. They were both accorded the officials (Zim) delegates status and we were all in it in all we did. Our traveling tickets were e-tickets, bought by Rajah, and Musavengana was the contact person. Musavengana was also the one who called us up for this assignment.
On our arrival at Singapore, there was Rajah, and three people waiting for us to take us through using a bus. On transit, in the bus, there was nothing that Rajah and crew did that looked fishy. The distance was less than 100km. Our HOD was paying us as the officials, and this included the media personel, while Rajah was paying the players.
Players were paid approximately between US$3 000-US$4 000 each and official US$7 000 each. I was really shocked by these big monies, especially in that we were paid some good monies at half time, when we were losing and then also for failing to qualify for the quarter-finals. As we were playing I could sense there was something fishy with our approach in the games.
Question – Who was officially from Malaysian FA?
Sibanda – There was noone from the FA.
Question – What role did the Zifa president come to play?
Sibanda – My observation is that when the president came, he appeared to collect the Zifa US$10 000. He did not show any interest in what was happening.
Question – How was the media treated by the HOD and technical team?
Sibanda – They were officially part of our delegation.
Question – Who knew of exactly what was happening in this assignment/trip?
Sibanda – Japajapa knew exactly what was happening. He told us to lose the games whilst together with Raja
Question – Who was the captain and what role did he play?
Sibanda – Johannes Ngodzo was the captain and became instantly good friends with Raja. Also Thomas Sweswe and Tsungai Mudzamiri became very good friends with Raja. Sweswe was the centreback and Tsungai was the goalkeeper. They, and we, were playing to lose the games.
Question- Did our delegation get gifts or acquire goods there in Malaysia?
Sibanda – On our way back to Singapore, Japajapa had a friend there and we went to his warehouse where I bought a Mercedes Benz for US$6 000, Japajapa and Sunday also bought Mercedes Benz cars and Robson Sharuko bought household goods. I had a problem here at home in clearing the car with Customs and I sold it and recovered my US$6 000.
Question – Which other trip did you go?
Sibanda – We went to Oman with the CEO as HOD. The Oman game was straight forward as it was a flop. The CEO was let down, I think, by the syndicate. The CEO was in charge of all those Asia games.
Question – What else did you observe in these games and during your tenure as Team Manager?
Sibanda – When our currency had fallen badly, the CEO and a lady at SRC abused the Zimbabwe Government Vice-President’s Office through exchanging their own Zim dollars to the US dollar. They were changing their own money, in the name of Zifa, at a very low rate, maybe Z$1 for US$1. There was a scam there and, if properly investigated, you will find that the CEO and the SRC lady made a killing.