TWO Zimbabwe cricketers, Vusumuzi Sibanda and Waddington Mwayenga and national team manager Mohamed “Babu” Meman, have been convicted of contravening foreign currency exchanged regulations.
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka and managing director Ozias Bvute were set free after having been arrested and detained for the same offence.
Sibanda (22), Mwayenga (21) and Meman (53), are expected to be sentenced this morning following two postponments yesterday.
The conviction of the three came just a day after Chingoka and Bvute were released without charges after being detained in police custody for two days.
Earlier press reports had stated that Sibanda, Mwayenga and Meman, who were picked up and questioned by police on Monday, had also been released without being prosecuted. But yesterday’s appearance in the Magistrates’ Court conflict with the refusal by the Attorney General’s office to prosecute Chingoka and Bvute, who were facing similar charges with the national team trio.
Documents obtained by Independent Sport reveals that on three occasions in the last 17 months, ZC undertook separate bank transactions, making external payments to Sibanda, Mwayenga and Meman in contravention of the Exchange Control Act.
The documents reveal that in July 2004, ZC deposited US$4 041 into former Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu’s bank account in the United Kingdom on behalf of Sibanda. Again in September 2005, ZC deposited Mwayenga’s marketing fees of US$182 into the player’s own UK account.
Then sometime in July 2004, ZC again deposited US$6 750 into Meman’s UK bank account.
“It is not known whether or not the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (sic) as the employer to who the money was due sought exchange control approval for the payment in the accused’s account,” the case outline in all three cases reads.
In all instances, the two players and their manager, who were represented by lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, admitted that they did not enquire from ZC if the union had obtained Exchange Control approval to deposit their payments into the foreign bank accounts.
However, in a press release from ZC media and communications manager Lovemore Banda on Wednesday, ZC did not mention the external payments made to Sibanda, Mwayenga and Meman and the circumstances leading to their arrest and prosecution.
“In the case of the chairman, it was (the external transactions) for payment of cricket balls from Pakistan for the organisation, and for the MD it was for the procurement of vehicles outside the country for onward sale in Zimbabwe for the benefit of ZC,” the statement said.
The ZC officials have been accused of trying to rope in players and other stakeholders to cover allegations of maladministration and funds misappropriation that have been brought against Chingoka and Bvute.
Meanwhile, cricket stakeholders have called for the appointment of an interim management committee to run the affairs of ZC pending the resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwean cricket.
The idea was proposed by the players, provincial chairmen and other cricket personalities at the second all-stakeholders crisis meeting on Wednesday, organised by ZC vice-chairman Justice Ahmed Ebrahim. The retired Supreme Court judge has in the past weeks taken a more active role in an attempt to resolve the crisis that is threatening the game.
Names of people to form the committee were suggested to the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), to whom the proposal was made. A number of suggestions were also made by the stakeholders to the SRC for them to implement.
The SRC has formed a sub-committee to probe the dispute in the game.
The sub-committee gas already met with players’ representatives and other stakeholders to discuss ways to deal with the crisis.