A DEEPLY embedded network of corruption has rocked the Zifa Central Region Division One League, with clubs accusing top Zifa officials of scandalously influencing the promotion of teams to the Premier Soccer League.
The cancer has become commonplace in Zimbabwe’s lower leagues after several administrators were in 2012 arraigned before disciplinary hearings allegedly for influencing the outcome of matches.
At that time, a probe team led by former Fifa referee Brighton Mudzamiri indicated their inquest into the Central Region Division One had helped them unearth match-fixing claims in the Southern Region and the Premiership.
“Though the scope of the investigations was to cover the two regions (Division One), it was uncovered during the course of investigations that some Premier Soccer League matches were also fixed towards the end of the season when teams were fighting against relegation,’’ Mudzamiri said then.
Eight years later, the Central Division One League is still burning. Teams now accuse top Zifa officials who they refer to as the ‘Guptas’ (a wealthy South African family accused of cutting corrupt deals with former President Jacob Zuma ) of influencing the promotion of clubs into the Premier Soccer League.
“We have seen this happening over the years, that other year it was Shabanie Mine, Nichrut, then last year it was TelOne and this year it’s Sheasham. We know the guys who are involved (names supplied),” a club official, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, told Zim Morning Post.
Football clubs said it was no surprise why teams from the Central Region Division One League get into the Premier Soccer League, only to be relegated the following season.
“It’s because of these ‘Guptas’ who decide which team gets promoted at the expense of ability. Shabanie was relegated, followed by Nichrut and now TelOne is struggling and also facing relegation. If you check last season, Tongogara were frustrated and ended up engaging in violence, leading to their ban. As long as we continue with these ‘Guptas’ in charge of our football, then the Central Region League is not going to develop,” said another insider.
“Check how many teams have been promoted under the chairmanship of the region, Stanley Chapeta and how many have been relegated from the PSL,” said another club.
There have also been reports of match-fixing in the Zifa Southern Region Division One league, with one of the title contenders Talen Vision accused of trying to bribe opponents to win matches.
Zimbabwe is lowly- ranked on the Transparency International Corruption Index, with corruption endemic in various sectors.
Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said the country’s football governing body was averse to corruption and would stem it out whenever it rears its ugly head.
Gwesela, however, said in this instance, no report had been brought before them.
“We are not aware of those allegations. For now, we have not received any report. Where is the evidence?” he questioned.
“If someone has a complaint, they should come out clearly and not make unsubstantiated claims on social media using unnamed sources. As far as we are concerned, football is running smoothly in the Central Region.”