21 February 2013

Zimbabwe: My Hands Are Clean On Asiagate, Says Mzembi

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi yesterday denied having anything to do with the Asiagate scandal in which nearly 100 national soccer team players and administrators are accused of fixing international matches.

Eng Mzembi told Chitungwiza magistrate Ms Estere Chivasa that he never authored any document facilitating the unsanctioned national team trips to Asia.

He was testifying in a case in which former Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya is accused of corruptly concealing transactions from a principal.

Eng Mzembi said the only time he was involved in signing a document was when the Warriors participated in a regional Cosafa tournament.

Prosecutor Mr Oliva Marwa produced two documents citing the Warriors' invitation to friendly matches on May 4 and May 14 2009 against Jordan which Eng Mzembi purportedly wrote to Rushwaya.

"I deny authorship of this document since it was a matter of public record when it was first published on the first page of the Sunday Mail," he said.

"It does not originate from my ministry and it bears the signature which is not mine, it does not cite reference, it is written 'Eng' before my name instead of reading, "Eng W. Mzembi (Hon MP).

"I had no locus standi to authorise a football trip. The authority to invite teams should have come from Rushwaya to the football federations."

On the second document, a proposal by Oman for an international friendly match addressed to Rushwaya, Eng Mzembi said he never came across it.

He disputed that the contents of the document were referring to an e-mail he sent to Jordan.

"I have not issued an email to a ministry in Jordan for the past five years and I do not even know the minister," he said. "I did not have any formal or informal communication with him."

Minister Mzembi said he had known Rushwaya for more than two decades starting from the time he was not a minister.

"I came to know her specifically in the administration of soccer and we have been working together from the time she was introduced to us by the Vice President of Zimbabwe as our focal point of trust," he said.

Eng Mzembi said they were appointed together in a 15-member committee whose mandate was fundraising for the national team during the hyper inflation era.

This was after the team had failed to fulfil its games both at home and away because of financial constraints.

"She had just come from abroad where she was studying Sports Administration," said Eng Mzembi. "Rushwaya did not impress only us, but the VP who was the patron of Zifa."

Eng Mzembi said the match between the Warriors and Brazil just before the 2010 Fifa World Cup held in South Africa was organised by Zifa.

He said during cross examination that the Asiagate case was damaging the country's brand.

Copyright © 2013 The Herald. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.