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December 5, 2005
Zimbabwe cricketers Vusi Sibanda, Waddington Mwayenga and national team manager Babu Meman today escaped with fines after being found guilty in Harare for contravening the country's foreign-exchange regulations.
The conviction of the three, for committing similar offences to those ZC chairman Peter Chingoka and managing director Ozias Bvute were cleared of earlier in the week, has raised concerns about the political sensitivity of the crisis in Zimbabwe cricket. The office of Zimbabwe's Attorney General this week declined to lay charges against Chingoka and Bvute, but the state went on to prosecute the players and Meman for getting paid externally by ZC.
In passing the sentence, the magistrate-court judge admitted that ZC had the moral blame since it was its obligation to expatriate money from abroad and pay the employees in Zimbabwe, therefore the three's case was a technical offence. Sibanda was fined Zim$800 000 ($11), Mwayenga $400 000 ($5), and Meman $1 million ($13).
Beatrice Mtetwa, the trio's lawyer, said she would appeal to the High Court to have her clients' conviction and sentences set aside until the state has made a final decision on Chingoka and Bvute.
Although the pair were released after Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, the Attorney General, ruled there were no charges for them to answer, it is reported that the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is deeply unhappy with the outcome and has raised those concerns at a high level of government. The RBZ investigation into Zimbabwe Cricket is due to report soon, and there is speculation that it could trigger more action.
It is also widely reported that Tatenda Taibu, the former Zimbabwe captain who quit over the refusal of Chingoka and Bvute to resign from ZC, met with Robert Mugabe before he left to play club cricket in Bangladesh. Mugabe is a patron of ZC.
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