By Staff Reporter
The head of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) Jonathan Mashingaidze was on Wednesday arrested on allegations of ‘criminally defaming’ his controversial predecessor Ms Henrietta Rushwaya.
It’s widely known in Zimbabwean circles that Rushwaya is well connected within Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and Wednesday’s arrest of Mashingaidze is being perceived as her hitting back at all those who accused her of match fixing.
Mashingaidze was released later after police recorded statements from him. He was recently quoted accusing Ms Rushwaya of secretly meeting two national soccer team star players — Knowledge Musona and Ovidy Karuru.
He claimed that the meeting was part of a shadowy match-fixing plot. Detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department’s Law and Order Section picked up Mashingaidze at the Harare Magistrates’ Court after he attended an abduction case in which he was the complainant.
Mashingaidze reportedly said the meeting between Rushwaya and the players threw the results of Zimbabwe’s home loss to Guinea and a draw away to Mozambique into question.
Zimbabwe lost 0-1 to Guinea in early June before drawing nil all with Mozambique a week later in the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers. Zifa insists that Ms Rushwaya is the mastermind of the Asiagate match-fixing scam.
Ms Rushwaya, whose match-fixing charges were recently dropped at the Harare Magistrates’ Court, felt defamed by what Mashingaidze said in relation to Musona and Karuru.
Mashingaidze was picked up from the Harare Magistrates’ Court by the police and taken to Harare Central Police Station where statements were recorded from him.
CID spokesperson Detective Chief Inspector Augustine Zimbili confirmed the arrest. “I do confirm that a report of criminal defamation has been made and we have since recorded statements from the accused,” he said.
“I cannot say much at the moment for fear of jeopardising investigations. I understand he was released after the recording of statements.” Harare provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector James Sabau said once investigations have been finalised, they will summon Mashingaidze to court.
“We are still investigating the case and, when the case is complete, we might summon him to court,” he said. The arrest followed a Press conference addressed by Ms Rushwaya and his lawyers Mr Jonathan Samkange and Mr Dumisani Mthombeni on June 13 refuting the allegations.
Ms Rushwaya denied ever meeting Musona and Karuru as alleged by Mashingaidze and she threatened to institute both criminal and civil proceedings against individuals and organisations that allegedly defamed her.
Ms Rushwaya was yesterday understood to be in Dubai and efforts to get comment from her were unsuccessful. However criminal defamation laws in Zimbabwe have been used by mainly people in Zanu PF to crackdown on perceived opponents in the opposition.