By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Harare, March 22, 2016 – SPORTS administrators, government and other stakeholders on Monday met to brainstorm on ways to combat the scourge of match fixing and other forms of corruption which have permeated the national sport in the recent past.
The two day convention organised by the country’s sports ministry is the first ever such event to be called by the country’s sports governors in attempts to deal with the rot.
It comes in the wake of a match fixing scandal in which former ZIFA Chief Executive Officer Henrietta Rushwaya is alleged to have masterminded a plot to fix the upcoming AFCON qualifier between Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
ZIFA board member Edzai Kasinauyo and former Warriors coach Ian Gorowa’s names were also dragged into the scandal. Kasinauyo has since been suspended pending an investigation into the matter.
Police have opened an investigation into the matter in which both Rushwaya and Kasinauyo have denied involvement.
During the convention, held at a Harare hotel, Sports and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane said the recent scourge of match fixing was detrimental to the national game and could easily lead to the country losing the much needed foreign direct investment.
“Zimbabwe will be fighting a losing battle if it embarks on a solo effort without summoning external support and solidarity,” Hlongwane said.
“At the end of the day, this explicit thuggery makes mockery of athletes’ tireless efforts to excel in their respective roles.
“You can imagine a world governed by this sub-culture of the unfettered caprice where losers become winners at the behest of sinister manoeuvres.
“A corruption riddled country cannot expect to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Corruption in the sports sector might seem peripheral but it has the toxic potential to percolate into other spheres of the national economy.”
He urged law enforcement agents to get to the bottom of the recent match fixing claims in attempts to clean the national game.
Hlongwane said the country shall also draw lessons from other nations that enacted laws against sports corruption.
“…It is a common cause that corruption, match fixing and doping are now a cancerous scourge in sport and government is committed to fight it.”
The recent match fixing scandal follows the much publicised Asiagate few years ago in which then Zifa CEO, Rushwaya took the national football team for a number of friendly matches against Asian countries and losing several of them in what was later followed by sensational match fixing claims.
The conspiracy was reportedly established by Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal who was arrested in Finland for attempting to fix Finnish matches.
The scandal ignited a local investigation into the matter leading to the suspension of several footballers, coaches and administrators.
The sanctions were all scrapped by current Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa in a bid to bring finality to the drawn-out and inconclusive matter.