Mzembi denies authorising Asiagate trips

HARARE - Tourism minister Walter Mzembi has denied writing letters to former Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya authorising some of the Warriors’ controversial trips to the Far East in 2009, where several invitational matches were fixed by an Asian betting syndicate.

Mzembi told the Chitungwiza Magistrates’ Court yesterday during the on-going trial of Rushwaya that he was not the author of two letters giving the Zimbabwe national side the go ahead to travel to Jordan in 2009.

“The letter can never be mine and will never be mine,” said Mzembi. “It became a metro-fabric record when I saw it on the front page of a local newspaper. The document does not originate from the Ministry of tourism.”

Mzembi was sucked into the Asiagate scandal last year after axed-Zifa programmes officer Jonathan Musavengana claimed while testifying at the Harare Magistrates’ Court that Zifa received letters from Mzembi approving the Jordan trip.

The minister denied ever signing the document and told the court that the signature on the letters is not his.

 “This is not my signature, it (the letter) does not sight any references as government letters does because government letters do not go out without any references,” said Mzembi.

“The letter does not contain my language. I do not write in this fashion.”

 Mzembi said he had no right to authorise any football matches in and outside the country.

 “I had no locus standi in authorising football matches. Even if this was Mzembi’s letter, I don’t know who might have authorised this. My signature will not pass anywhere.”

Under cross-examination by Rushwaya’s lawyer Charles Chinyama, Mzembi however said the former Zifa CEO could not possibly be the author of the letter since it was addressed to her.

“There is no way Rushwaya could have written a letter and address it to herself.”

 Before leaving the witness stand, Mzembi pleaded with the court to bring the matter to finality, saying it was “hurting” Zimbabwean football. - Ivan Zhakata

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