Rushwaya 'distanced' from Asiagate

HARARE - The trial of former Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya took a dramatic twist yesterday after sensational claims by former Young Warriors manager Bekithemba Ndlovu that he masterminded the Asiagate match-fixing scam, not Rushwaya.

Ndlovu, a former Monomotapa Football Club official, put himself in the line of fire yesterday after admitting, while testifying in court, that he is the one responsible for the widely-publicised scam, in which Zimbabwean players and officials were paid sums of money by an illegal Asian betting syndicate to deliberately lose several matches in the Far East between 2007 and 2009.

The ex-Monomotapa treasurer said this during cross examination by Rushwaya’s lawyer, Charles Chinyama, at the Chitungwiza Magistrates’ Court.

Ndlovu was team manager for the Zimbabwe Under-20 side which toured Bulgaria in 2009, where matches were allegedly fixed.

His other involvement in fixed matches was during Monomotapa’s African Champions League campaign in 2009, with the club’s away match to Etoile du Sahel strongly believed to have been influenced by a syndicate led by jailed Singaporean bookmaker Wilson Raj Perumal.

The Harare club, crowned champions the previous year, also courted controversy in the same year when it masqueraded as the Zimbabwe national team on a trip to Malaysia, where they lost both matches to the hosts’ national side.   

What remains to be unpacked now, following Ndlovu’s astonishing claims, is his involvement in the several other tours partaken by Zimbabwe during their Asian escapades.

But Ndlovu appeared to answer those questions after revealing that he was the one who communicated with the syndicate and received payment for his role in instructing the team to lose by predetermined results for betting purposes.

 “As far as the Asiatic games are concerned he was the source of the problem, he conceded and manufactured them,” said Chinyama.

The court heard that Ndlovu was ordered by the bookmakers to instruct the team to lose matches for a fee.

Ndlovu also implicated former Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa, who was part of the technical bench for the Bulgaria trip. Ndlovu said Chidzambwa was present when he received payment from the syndicate on that trip.  

 “When I received the money I was with Sunday Chidzambwa. Chidzambwa and Methemba Ndlovu had dissociated themselves earlier before the game but the money was given after the game,” said Ndlovu.

Magistrate Esthere Chivasa also heard that Ndlovu received more money from the “Asian men” than what he disclosed to the team.

 Asked why he did that, Ndlovu said that there were circumstances that led him to do that.

He expressed ignorance why Rushwaya, widely seen as the chief architect of the scam, was being charged with the offence.

Another state witness, former Young Warriors coach Methembe Ndlovu, also said he was not aware of the offences Rushwaya is facing.

“At that particular time I was only a coach and wouldn’t know what was happening. I also wouldn’t know if it’s that true that she corruptly concealed the matches but I do know that these matches were published in the local media,” said Ndlovu.

However, Luke Masomere, a caretaker coach for the Warriors a trip to Vietnam in 2009, told the court that Rushwaya was in fact heavily involved in the corrupt activities.

Masomere said: “I was promised $9 000 by Rushwaya and $10 000 by (the) fraudsters. The money was given to me so as to make the team lose.”

Rushwaya is facing nine counts of corruptly concealing a transaction from her principals. The trial continues on Tuesday with Tourism minister Walter Mzembi testifying. - Ivan Zhakata

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