Let sanity prevail in local cricket

Events at Zimbabwe Cricket in the last two weeks have put the troubled domestic game back in the international spotlight. The cricket community, both local and international, are still trying to grasp what is going on after the board led by Tavengwa Mukuhlani was suspended by the Sports and Recreation Commission.

The ZC board was suspended last week after defying a directive from the Sports Commission to shelve an elective Annual General Meeting that was marred by a litany of irregularities.

There are also accusations of financial embezzlement and an investigation is set to take place over an alleged US$2,8m fraud that could have taken place under the watch of the suspended management.

But an impasse between the Sports Commission and the members of the suspended ZC board has developed in the last two weeks and it appears domestic cricket operations will temporarily be brought to a halt until the International Cricket Council make a determination at their next board meeting on July 18. The suspended management have maintained they are still in office.

On the one hand, the Sports Commission are justified to exercise their authority to ensure compliance among associations under their jurisdiction. The Sports Commission are allowed under Section 30 of the SRC Act to take such a bold move if statutes have been breached.

Section 30 of the SRC Act deals with discipline of registered national associations “(1) Where the board considers that any registered national association — (a) has ceased to operate as a national association; or (b) has failed to comply with any provision of this Act; or (c) has conducted itself in a manner which is contrary to the national interest; the board may, after affording the association concerned an opportunity of making representations in the matter, do either or both of the following — (i) suspend all or any of its officers; (ii) direct the Director-General to strike the association from the register.”

ZC have since lodged an appeal with the Administrative Court in accordance with Section 32 of the same Act. The suspended members are fighting the Sports Commission’s decision to suspend them.

The most worrying point now is that operations have grounded at the ZC offices since last week when the board was suspended. The office premises have been locked and the staff have stayed away from work the whole week.

This has made it difficult for the Sports Commission to instil order as the interim board cannot move in without the co-operation they need from the staff in order to execute their mandate.

A forensic audit that has been ordered by the Sports Commission cannot begin.

There were reports of sabotage by the suspended board members, who have reportedly been going around intimidating employees and ordering them not to report for duty.

If this is true, then it is quite unfortunate. They should allow due processes to take place and if they are clean, they will still be vindicated.

The Sports Commission have raised serious allegations of fraud involving US$2,8 million. The interim board cannot proceed with the inquiry because of the current stand-off. A police report has since been lodged to this effect.

The Government has maintained a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and if there are any suspicions of foul play, investigations should be allowed to take place. No one should stand in the way of justice.

On the other hand, the suspended ZC board members have raised the red flag, citing Government interference. The ICC is clear they do not tolerate Government interference. If the move by the Sports Commission is deemed as Government interference, that could end up costing our country’s cricket not only financial support, but also suspension from international cricket.

Usually it is not easy for a suspended member to get back into the fold and immediately get to the same level they were before they were suspended. The game takes a heavy blow and the end result could be the death of cricket in Zimbabwe.

Right now, the tour of Ireland by the national women’s side hangs in the balance because of the stand-off. Staff members and players, some of whom are on tour in Ireland with the Chevrons, have missed their salary dates.

We hope and pray that the current stand-off is resolved amicably so that operations are smooth again. The stand-off we are currently witnessing should never be at the expense of the game. Whatever steps that are being taken, national interests should come first.

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