By Prosper Dembedza
The trial of ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo, who stands accused of bribing councillors to vote for him for the position of president of the football governing body, opened yesterday with the accused denying the allegations.
His lawyer Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara submitted that they made their defence outline without being given minutes of the election by the State as previously ordered by the court.
The State, led by Mr Michael Reza responded by telling Harare regional magistrate Ms Bianca Makwande that there were no minutes.
In his defence outline, Kamambo said he did not give or agree to give any inducements. While small sums were handed out these were to get those benefiting to get to the meeting or cover their expenses on Kamambo’s campaign. Kamambo “categorically denies that the payments were bribe or illicit consideration for votes” said Adv Zhuwarara.
“The ZIFA congress members who received monies from the accused’s campaign were not beholden to vote for him and the paltry amounts were specifically directed to their attendance or engagement with the accused’s campaign.”
After the defence outline was read Mr Reza called his first witness Robert Matoka, whom he said was an accomplice witness as he played a part in the bribery.
Adv Zhuwarara then opposed the use of such a witness, saying they were never told that Matoka was an accomplice witness. He had no problem if Matoka was an ordinary witness. Ms Makwande ordered Matoka to stand down prompting Mr Reza to call his second witness — businessman and Zanu PF Zvimba South legislator Dr Philip Chiyangwa to lead the evidence.
Dr Chiyangwa told the court that in 2018 he contested for the position of ZIFA president against Kamambo.
He said the first round results failed to settle the contest and they were supposed to go for a re-run.
He said the during the election period he was very sick and when the first round results came out with Kamambo leading they were supposed to go for a re-run, but after noticing some fraudulent activities he conceded defeat.
“This was only brought to my attention months down the road when Matoka told me that he was hired by Kamambo as the campaign manager and given money to buy voters,” he said.
It is the State case that ahead of the December 2018 ZIFA elections, Kamambo allegedly paid some of the association’s councillors through EcoCash. The money was allegedly deposited by Kamambo’s then campaign manager, Matoka, into the 32 ZIFA councillors’ accounts.
Ms Makwande adjourned the trial to today when Adv Zhuwarara is expected to cross examine Dr Chiyangwa. The Herald.