The Zimbabwe crisis January 18, 2006

New cleansed Zimbabwe board states its aims

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The first meeting of the interim board of Zimbabwe Cricket ended with a number of announcements in addition to the decision to suspend the country from Test cricket.

Since a controversial AGM last September, the ZC board has not been able to meet as opponents of Peter Chingoka, the embattled chairman, boycotted all meetings. It took government involvement - the removal of most of those opposed to Chingoka on race and political grounds and their replacement with pro-Zanu-PF supporters - to enable the board to achieve a quorum. Given the less-than-democratic constitution of the new board, embarrassing questions or criticism were not going to be the order of the day.

The main issue, that of the players, was the one that needed addressing but it was brushed aside "pending the finalisation of player issues". The reality is that ZC remains aware that despite the end of the strike, there is every chance that many of those involved are ready to walk away. It had been speculated that a new captain would be named to replace Tatenda Taibu, but Andy Blignaut, the favourite, is not in the country and is rumoured to be about to quit anyway.

The board did name Kevin Curran as coach, but that too will not go down well. The players have been training with Phil Simmons - sacked last year by ZC but fighting his dismissal in the courts - and are said to have little time for Curran who is seen as too closely allied to ZC officials. Andy Pycroft was appointed to run the A team and Walter Chawaguta the national Under-19 side.

Bruce Makovah was named as head of the selection panel previously headed by Max Ebrahim - one of those culled on the basis of his race - with Curran and Zimbabwe Cricket Academy Manager Kudzai Shoko as the other two members. In September last year Makovah was accused of stopping a match in Harare and of racially abusing and threatening players.

The board also appointed various sub-committees. Chingoka was named to chair the International Relations Committee; Wilson Manase the Constitution Review Committee with Sylvester Matshaka, Tavengwa Mukuhlani and Stanley Staddon as the members; Oliver Kanhukamwe the Development Committee with Levy Hombarume, Charles Maunze and Crispen Tsvarayi as members. Mike Weeden, who is involved with women's cricket, will be an ex-officio committee member. Reading though the lists of other committees made the degree of the cleansing of almost all white and Asian people all too clear.

The other issue which has attracted the most media attention - the financial affairs of the board - was also addressed with the board deciding to appoint "a firm of auditors of international repute". Their brief will be to investigate alleged financial mismanagement and/or irregularities, if any, and to advise ZC on the way forward, and to audit ZC's accounts for the period May-December 2005, because some of the allegations fall outside the period of the last audited accounts which was up to the year-end of April 2005.

There was a passing reference to Ozias Bvute, the ZC managing director identified by many as being to blame more than anyone other than Chingoka for the current crisis, but that was enough to show that he was firmly in situ.

But the creation of five new provinces - all expected to be pro-Chingoka - and the dissolution of the old County Districts - who have been leading the fight to have him removed - which was expected to be pushed through appears to have been delayed until the next meeting in February.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo