Rushwaya's Asiagate jinx

HARARE - An attempt by ex-Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya to knock off her Asiagate scandal trial at the Harare Magistrates’ Court has once again illustrated a worrying trend by “connected elites” to subvert the rule of law, legal experts say.

While documents show that the disgraced ex-administrator tried to use the Attorney-General (AG)’s office to delay her October prosecution, regional magistrate Esthere Chivasa has obtained plaudits for her bold decision to continue with the trial of Rushwaya despite attempts by the attorney genenal’s office to delay the trial.

“It is admitted that the decision of the High Court in the review application is on all fours relevant to the direction in which this trail will go,” read part of the letter from the AG’s office signed by one M. Dube.

“In the interest of justice, it will be proper in the circumstances to allow the High Court to make its decision in the Review application before (the) trial can go to the next stage.”

“Therefore can trial be further postponed pending the conclusion of the Review application in the High Court.

“The processes of the Review application will have to be complied with without any delays.”

Rushwaya was last month slapped with a life ban by Zifa after being found guilty of match-fixing and illegal betting in a scam in which she was fingered as the mastermind.

In the courts, Rushwaya is facing charges of corruptly concealing transactions from a principal in the Asiagate football match-fixing scandal between 2007 and 2009.

The AG‘s office futile attempts to postpone Rushwaya’s October 23 trial was ostensibly to allow a review application by Rushwaya’s defence team in the High Court to be completed first.

Magistrate Chivasa  not only knocked back the AG’s order but also rubbished Rushwaya defence team‘s application for a postponement after they failed to prove their lead counsel Jonathan Samukange’s purported High Court commitments.

“The defence counsel is clearly taking the court for a ride. There is nothing placed in the record to indicate that Samukange is at the High Court,” she said.

Rushwaya has since engaged Charles Chinyama as her new lawyer when her case resumes on November 19 and 20.

These developments come as world football governing body Fifa has warned Rushwaya, former Zimbabwe national coach Sunday Chidzambwa and ex-Premier Soccer League fixtures-secretary Godfrey Japajapa against challenging the punishment meted on them by the Justice Ebrahim Commission for their role in the Asiagate scandal.

The trio, who were handed life bans by Zifa after being fingered in the Asiagate scam, last month challenged the legality of Justice Ebrahim’s Independent Ethics Committee in the High Court.

In a letter to Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, Fifa has ordered Zifa to impose stiff sentences on people who seek justice on football matters in courts of law.

Citing Article 62. Paragraph 2 of the Fifa statutes, Fifa director of legal affairs, Marco Villiger, has warned the trio of dire consequences.

“We refer to the letter dated October 30, 2012 received from the official Sunday Marimo Chidzambga regarding the bans for players and officials convicted of the match-fixing and illegal betting scandal involving Zimbabwe’s national team.

“We refer in particular to the correspondence received from the legal representative of the official Sunday Marimo Chidzambga dated October 30, 2012, a copy of which is enclosed for your attention.

“We took note that the official Sunday Marimo Chidzambga together with three other individuals involved in the above mentioned matter (in particular officials Henrietta Rushwaya and Godfrey Japajapa) has apparently lodged an application before the High Court in Zimbabwe against a decision rendered by the Zifa Independent Disciplinary Ad-Hoc committee.

 “We would like to draw your attention to Article 64, par 2 of the Fifa statutes, which stipulates that “recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the Fifa regulation’…the association shall impose sanctions on any party that fails to respect this obligation’.

 “…we respectfully ask you to keep us informed of any claim lodged with an ordinary court by players, and or officials involved in the above mentioned matter that comes to your attention and in that event, of the appropriate action the Zimbabwe Football Association will take against the aforementioned officials in order to guarantee the respect of the Fifa statutes.” — Weekend Post

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