The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe/Angola: Zifa Meet Agian - Asiagate, Angola Match Top Agenda

ZIFA are this morning expected to complete debate on the remainder of the Asiagate bans and edge towards ending the suspense that has gripped the rest of the players and officials who are awaiting their fate over the long-dragging match-fixing scam.

After handing life and 10 year bans to 19 individuals, the Zifa board will convene again in the capital to discuss and issue the outstanding penalties which will range from five, years down to six-month bans and possibly some suspended sentences.

Zifa's last four meetings have been dominated by the Asiagate matter.

The contentious issue of the match-fixing scandal and the penalties being meted out will also dominate proceedings when the board's emergency committee deliberates on four items that have been listed on the agenda.

The other items up for discussion include a review of the Warriors failed 2013 African Cup of Nations campaign, with the board expected to look at the report they have asked under fire coach Rahman Gumbo to provide.

They will also lay the groundwork for the November 24 Zifa assembly extraordinary indaba, the first to be held by the council, since the Justice Ahmed Ebrahim Commission completed its Asiagate probe. The board's emergency board meeting will also table plans for a strategic retreat in which Zifa are looking at finding ways to come out of a forgettable year when the Warriors failed to qualify for the Nations Cup while more worryingly, both the national Under-17 and Under-20 teams failed to fulfill fixtures and now await to be handed with bans from the continental game by the Confederation of African Football.

Zifa chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, said yesterday that they would discuss the final batch of the punishments to be handed down but could not commit himself into confirming whether the pronouncements of the penalties would also be made public at the end of their meeting today.

"This meeting is a special one for the emergency committee of the board and those with strategic portfolios that is the president, the vice-president, board members finance, marketing, and development and the CEO.

"A full board meeting will be held on 23 November where the issues that would have been discussed tomorrow (today) will be ratified. The remainder of the punishments has a bigger group and depending on the deliberations tomorrow, the pronouncements may be made when the full board meets on 23 November. "But, whichever, decision is taken all the Asiagate punishments will be announced before the extraordinary meeting of the Assembly on 24 November. It must also be noted that once the pronouncements have been made, they immediately become effective," Mashingaidze said.

Zifa on Wednesday also announced the setting up of an Appeals committee that will deal with all the protests emanating from the varying bans they handed down over the Asiagate matter.

Former Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa, slapped with a life ban, has through his legal representatives also indicated that he would now lodge an appeal with the committee that includes veteran administrator Chris Mbanga and Harare lawyers Thabani Mpofu and Silas Chekera.

Chidzambwa, had also sought recourse through the High Court in Harare but with Fifa insisting that all appellants should first exhaust the channels available through the Zifa structures, his South African-based lawyer Farai Razano of Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs yesterday indicated that he would now appeal to the Mpofu, Mbanga and Chekera committee.

Razano's letter to Fifa was also copied to Zifa.

"Without prejudice to any of Mr. Chidzambwa's rights, we record the contents of the court letter of 30 October 2012 still stand. However, we wish to address media reports that have been brought to our attention indicating that Fifa has warned various people, including Mr. Chidzambwa against approaching Zimbabwean courts of law to protect their rights. We have not seen the letter allegedly sent to Zifa by Fifa on Wednesday (7 November 2012).

It is alleged that the letter advises Zifa to report any individuals that approach the Zimbabwean courts of law to protect their rights to Fifa and possibly take actions against those individuals. We request Fifa to favour us with a response to our letter dated 30 October 2012 which we believe is the one that is referred to in the letter allegedly sent to Zifa by Fifa yesterday.

"In the event that the media reports are accurate and Fifa has written such a letter to Zifa (7 November 2012) we wish to bring the following to Fifa's attention: Fifa has misread our letter of 30 October 2012. Paragraph 10 of our letter states in no uncertain terms that:

l Mr. Chidzambwa has no objection to submitting himself to a lawful and fair disciplinary process as provided for in terms of Zifa rules and in terms of which he will receive a fair hearing and protections available to him in terms of the Zifa rules.

l Only then can and if he were to be found guilty of charges of misconduct (which are denied) and after any appeal processes provided for in the Zifa rules have been exhausted could a request in terms of Art 136 of the FDC, if a ban or any other sanction is imposed, be considered and justified.

l At this point Mr. Chidzambwa has not had a fair hearing. The process that resulted in the purported ban has been patently unfair, in violation of the Zifa rules and natural justice".

Former Premier Soccer League fixtures-secretary, Godfrey Japajapa, who was cited by Fifa as being one of the litigants in Chidzambwa's High Court, has also questioned the process of appealing "before being accorded a fair disciplinary committee hearing".

"Zifa are clearly in violation of their own rules and regulations because they should have taken people to a disciplinary hearing and we should now be appealing against that disciplinary committee's ruling not appealing against the finding of an inquiry done by a committee that is not a sub committee of the association," Japajapa said.

Despite noting their protestations, Chidzambwa's lawyers also reiterated that the Black Leopards technical director would now launch his appeal following the unveiling of the appeals committee.

"We have now learnt from media reports that Zifa has constituted or will constitute an appeal committee that will deal with appeals from affected individuals such as Mr. Chidzambwa as we indicated in our letter of 30 October 2012 has no objection to submitting himself to a lawful and fair process as provided in terms of the Zifa constitution and rules in terms of which he will receive a fair hearing and protections available in terms of the Zifa appeals committee.

"Kindly let us have a response to our letter of 30 October 2012 confirming that Fifa will not extend the ban and give it worldwide effect until all the remedies available to Mr. Chidzambwa in terms of the Zifa constitution and rules have been exhausted and Zifa has complied with Art 137 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code," wrote Razano.

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