The Zimbabwe crisis September 1, 2004

Chingoka accused of intimidation and manipulation

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Peter Chingoka: accused of manipulating the system © AFP

Peter Chingoka may have eased his way past the potential problems posed by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union's AGM, where the board's hardline majority retained control, but according to a report in a local paper, his troubles are far from over.

An article in The Zimbabwe Independent claims that while Chingoka retains control, he stands accused of intimidation and manipulation in his attempts to stay in charge.

Chingoka blithely dismissed the claims - little else could really be expected from a man who described the last year in Zimbabwe cricket as "exciting and challenging" - and claimed that there was a "third force working to destroy Zimbabwe's cricket, which has an external element".

Ray Gripper, until recently a leading administrator in the game, accused Chingoka of manipulating the system to safeguard not only his own position but also those of his associates. He added that Chingoka had used intimidation and manipulation to block constitutional amendments from the provinces.

"I feel it is now time for this to come out," Gripper told The Independent. "I have been keeping quiet all along because I feared it could affect the career of my son, Trevor. We, as a group calling itself Concerned Cricket Lovers, had challenged the board on the constitution. However, a man who claimed to have been sent from the president's office came to us and said that he had come to deliver President Mugabe's message that Chingoka had to remain in power and that we had to stop our actions. It however later emerged that the person didn't work for the president's office but had been hired to perform this duty."

Gripper's allegation was supported by Wellington Marowa, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Cricket Pioneers Association. "We met this guy and Chingoka was also in attendance. The guy claimed that he was coming from the president's office but failed to produce his credentials. We later tried to check with the president's office but it later emerged that he wasn't a genuine government official.

"The guy said to us that he was strictly instructed by President Mugabe that Chingoka had to remain in office. He said that we had to stop our calls for leadership renewal as well as challenges to the constitution."

Chingoka denied the accusations, claiming that the police had investigated the incident and that it was not "worth commenting about now".

Further criticism came from Charley Robertson, the chairman of Mashonaland Country Districts, who said that Chingoka and his board made an amendment to a clause in the ZCU constitution that effectively ensured the existing board could not be challenged. "Clause 18 of the constitution used to give powers to provincial chairmen to change the board," he told the newspaper. "But it was changed two years ago to give the powers to the board only. Some of us only learnt about the change recently. This means that the current board has entrenched itself such that no one can challenge it. The system has been manipulated to retain the same people on the board but nobody on the current board has first-class cricket experience."

Again, Chingoka dismissed the charges. "There is no manipulating the whole system," he said. "You have to understand the whole process from provincial structures. The seven provincial structures all asked me to stand. How can you have seven provinces nominating you when there is an intention to pass a vote of no-confidence in you?"

But despite Chingoka's insistence that he has the full backing of the provinces, the article reports that three of them - Mashonaland Country Districts, Midlands and Matebeleland - have discussed tabling a formal challenge to the constitution.