ADVOCATE Lewis Uriri, one of the leading legal brains in Zimbabwe football, has been appointed the special prosecutor in the LIMPOPOGATE match-fixing cases set to go before the Association’s Disciplinary Committee in a week’s time.
The CAPS United chairman was the special prosecutor in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal but the findings and recommendations of the committee, led by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ebrahim, were not endorsed by FIFA in a fatal blow to the exercise.
FIFA repeatedly refused to endorse the sanctions saying that Justice Ebrahim committee, which began as an investigating body and was later transformed, midway during the exercise, into a disciplinary body, did not have the mandate to do such an exercise.
Only the judicial bodies within ZIFA, beginning with the Disciplinary Committee, were empowered by the football statutes to handle such cases and FIFA felt that the importation of a committee, from outside the game’s structures, was a violation of the rules and regulations governing the game.
Although FIFA advised ZIFA to refer the cases to their Disciplinary Committee, should the Association feel they wanted to bring closure to the saga, complications arose given that the Association’s leadership had already endorsed, and reviewed, the sanctions at a two-day retreat in Harare.
By pushing the cases back to their Disciplinary Committee, ZIFA found themselves at the mercy of accusations that the actions of the Association’s leadership, in endorsing and reviewing the sanctions, were likely to influence the proceedings of their Disciplinary Committee.
ZIFA then opened an avenue for the cases to be heard by an Appeals Committee, led by Advocate Silas Chekera, whose other members were Advocate Thabani Mpofu and veteran football administrator Chris Mbanga, with those who wanted their cases to be heard by the committee being asked to pay $6 000 each.
Method Mwanjali and Thomas Sweswe — who were still playing in South Africa — paid their appeal fees and had their cases heard by the Appeals Committee and their bans lifted by the Association.
Both players are now back playing in Zimbabwe with Mwanjali having been appointed the CAPS United captain this season while Sweswe has been a pillar of strength in the ZPC Kariba defensive shield.
Sources at ZIFA revealed yesterday that Advocate Uriri will be the special prosecutor when the LIMPOPOGATE hearings begin next week.
“Advocate Uriri has been appointed the special prosecutor because of his knowledge of how to deal with such issues and this shows that we are not taking this case very lightly and we don’t want a repeat of what happened in the previous case,” said the sources.
“You need serious and reputable people when you are dealing with such sensitive issues and that is what we are doing because justice should not only be done but it must be seen to be done.”
It was also revealed yesterday that, for now, only former ZIFA chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya, former Warriors’ coach Ian Gorowa, former Zimbabwe international Edzai Kasinauyo and axed Warriors’ assistant coach, Nation Dube, have been implicated in the scandal.
The sources told The Herald that letters inviting Rushwaya, Dube and Kasinauyo, who was suspended from his post as a ZIFA Board Member pending the outcome of his disciplinary case, to appear before the ZIFA Disciplinary Committee, will be sent in the next two days.
Gorowa’s case, it was leant last night, is likely to be dealt with by the South African football authorities.
“It’s very likely that Nation Dube is set to appear as a witness, rather than as part of the accused, because the evidence nailing him is very limited even though his name is mentioned again and again in the documents at hand,” the sources said.
“That, of course, will be a decision that will be passed by the special prosecutor after he reviews the evidence at hand but, as we speak, there isn’t anything to suggest that the CHAN games were manipulated although it appears that something fishy was supposed to be done to our matches there.
“Dube is mentioned a number of times but you can’t really point to something that he appears to have done and that is the tricky part but, like I said, that is the job for the special prosecutor.”
It has also been established that local football agent, Kudzi Shaba, whose name has been mentioned in some newspaper reports as being part of those who are being implicated, is not part of the those who have been fingered in the latest scandal.
“Even the whistleblower was asked repeatedly if he, at any time, dealt with this individual in the case that we are talking about and he was very clear that, although he knows the man, to the best of his knowledge, he was not part of the cartel and his name did not feature in the plots when they were trying to fix matches,” the sources said.
“That is why even when the announcement on those who have been banned was done, you heard about Rushwaya, and there is a letter from ZIFA to confirm that, and you also heard about Nation Dube, and there are letters from ZIFA to confirm that.
“There is need for the whole exercise to be credible and that means we have to be sensitive in the names that we give out so that we remain focused on those that we believe, as far as we have seen from the information we have gathered, have a case to answer.”