By Robson Sharuko
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company have launched investigations into allegations two executive members at their football franchise, Manica Diamonds, could have been involved in illicit player transfer deals to enrich themselves.
The duo could also have been defrauding the Premiership club, and by extension, its sponsors in the process.
A committee, headed by the club’s founding chairman, Newton Demba, has been tasked by ZCDC chief executive, Morris Mpofu, to fully investigate the reports related to questionable conduct by two of the Premiership newboys’ executive committee members.
Lazarus Muhoni and Lloyd Chinawa are reported to have been fingered in the recent questionable transfer dealings.
The Mutare-based side have invested heavily in new players, since gaining promotion into the top-flight league, bringing in Marshall Mudehwe, Patson Jaure, Pritchard Mpelele, Jorum Muchambo, Ashley Reyners, Tatenda Chingondi, Stanley Ngara, Tafadzwa Dube, Benjamin Marere and Carlton Munzabwa.
However, disturbing reports emerged yesterday that Muhoni, a former Warriors star, and Munawa, who has been manager of the Young Warriors in the past, could have allegedly abused their privileged positions at the club.
Reports suggest they were allegedly demanding paybacks from players for having helped them get contracts with the club.
There were also reports that some of the signing-on fees could have been inflated by the officials to enable them to pocket the difference between what the players had demanded and what the club eventually paid for.
A similar scam has already been unearthed at another Premiership side, ZPC Kariba, where the coach, Godfrey Tamirepi, and some executive committee members are now under investigations after some players unmasked the dirty deals which also involved a third party.
ZCDC boss Mpofu, who has a zero tolerance on corruption, was forced to act after he received a report compiled by the club which suggested there could have been some questionable conduct by some of those who were entrusted in positions of trust to manage the club.
Manica Diamonds chairman, Masimba Chihowa, and other members of his club leadership convened an urgent meeting in Mutare and compiled the report which was forwarded to their principals in the capital.
“We received a report from the club indicating there could have been allegations of improper conduct by some committee members of the team,’’ ZCDC spokesperson, Chagonda, told our sister paper, The Herald.
“Our CEO, Dr Morris Mpofu, is a man who has zero tolerance for such activities and he immediately came up with a committee that will investigate the allegations and come up with a report.
“We have to reiterate that, as a company, we have zero tolerance when it comes to corruption and any malcontents within our system, and that includes the people who are part of our football project, are at the wrong place and will be weeded out.
“This project was instituted to contribute significantly to the development of football, in general, in the country, and in Manicaland, in particular, because we felt that the game is a unifying force and it brings people of all tribes and races together in one sport.
“So far, this football project has done well and given the people of Mutare and Manicaland a reason to be proud of a team they can call their own and we won’t tolerate any conduct that brings this project and the name of the company into disrepute will never be tolerated and our actions will be swift and decisive.
“We have an exemplary and visionary leader at the company, our chief executive, who doesn’t take such questionable conduct lightly and I can assure the whole country that, if those who are being accused of having behaved wrongly, are found out to have done something beyond what we expect from them, then they will pay heavily and do not have a place in our team.
“I can announce that a special committee has been given the mandate to go and establish what really happened, to get to the bottom of this case, and it will be headed by the founding chairman of the club, Dr Newton Demba, and these are serious individuals who will make sure everything is brought to order.’’
Our sister paper, The Herald, was shown a trail of Ecocash transactions between several players and Muhone and another transaction between one of the players and Chinawa.
“Transfer Confirmation. USD300.00 to LAZURUS MUHONE Approval Code: PP190211.1443.L02044. New wallet balance USD6.99,” read one of the Ecocash money transfer messages.
Muhone, however, argued that the Ecocash transactions between the players and him were for different businesses and not paybacks for his role in their transfers.
“It is unfortunate that some people do not know that we are running businesses,’’ he said.
“For example, I have a confectionery business and for someone to allege that every monetary transaction that happens between me and a player is a bribe is not only mischievous but malicious.
“That is hearsay. We are going for a meeting on that issue soon even though we have not yet been given a date.
‘’I think the best way forward is that we discuss that as a club and then we come back to you with the correct position.
“This is something that is coming from people that hate us. They do not want to see us at the club,’’ said Muhoni.
Chinawa was not reachable for comment yesterday.
Chagonda said they would not rush to pronounce judgment on anyone until the committee that was set to look into the allegations produces its report.
“We are a company that strictly observes transparency and responsibility and it’s unfortunate that these allegations have come along because we would rather be in the newspapers for the right reasons and we have been doing a lot of things to make a positive impact on our communities and our country,’’ said Chagonda. The Chronicle