The Zimbabwe crisis November 10, 2005

Chingoka clinging on after day of attacks

Cricinfo staff

Peter Chingoka: facing increasing calls to step down © AFP
Zimbabwe Cricket's senior officials are under mounting pressure to step down after a day which saw leading players again attack the board. Firstly there was a fresh call by all the country's provincial chairmen for Peter Chingoka, the board's chairman, to step down, and then Chingoka and Ozias Bvute, the board's controversial managing director, picked up by the government's anti-corruption unit.

The day kicked off with a press conference called by the players, led by Tatenda Taibu, at which they issued a statement saying they were "tired of being threatened by ZC and tired of the way they have been attacked individually." It continued: "In coming forward in this way we realise we risk our careers, especially as ZC has shown in the past they will not hesitate to bully players. But we have no choice but to speak out."

"If we don't do anything, cricket in Zimbabwe will die within a year," Taibu told the BBC. "There's no doubt about that and everyone knows it. Everything that has gone wrong points to Bvute and Chingoka."

Shortly after that broadside, a letter from the six provincial chairmen was delivered to Chingoka by Charlie Robertson, chairman of the powerful Mashonaland Country Districts, on behalf of the six constituted provinces. It demanded the immediate suspension of Bvute "pending a forensic audit of the business and financial affairs of ZC before there is total collapse."

In the letter, the provinces described Chingoka as fomenting discord, playing the race card, drawing a "huge salary and perks to which you are not entitled" and dismissing their previous request nine days ago for answers to 80 questions regarding the cricket's board's finances. "Your avoidance of our queries only strengthens our belief that you have something to hide," the letter stated. "As a long-serving board member and chairman you should have perceived and addressed [financial] areas of concern before they reached the point where they are a threat to the very existence of Zimbabwe cricket."

And the letter accused Chingoka of trying to portray the dispute as having racial undertones, adding that seeking to create "discord among the provinces in order to further your own interests and agenda is a despicable attempt to cloud the real issues. We, therefore, as provincial chairmen representing the players and clubs in Zimbabwe - the shareholders - have no option but to demand your resignation as chairman of the board - and the immediate suspension of Bvute."

The ICC has steadfastly maintained that the growing crisis inside Zimbabwe is a domestic matter.

Chingoka, Bvute and Racquel Lindsay, the board's general manager (finance) were later picked up for questioning by Zimbabwe's own anti-corruption unit.