Zimbabwe Cricket acts to repossess sponsored cars February 15, 2006

Board sets police on Ebrahim and Taibu

Cricinfo staff

Dion Ebrahim: held by the police © Getty Images
Dion Ebrahim, Zimbabwe's former vice-captain, was arrested this morning for using a ZC-sponsored car two weeks after the board decided not to offer him a new contract. Ebrahim was held at Highlands Police Station in Harare for several hours. Beatrice Mtetwa, his lawyer, told journalists that the arrest was illegal as ZC had not paid Ebrahim his outstanding match fees.

"They had him arrested because he was using their car," Mtetwa said. "They are still holding him. I wrote their lawyers telling them that we will not release the car until he is paid his dues. They can only take the car with a court order. This case has nothing to do with the police. This is a civil case. It is an abuse of the police, and ZC have always done that."

A spokesman for the board told Cricinfo: "Ebrahim no longer has a contract with ZC and so there are no grounds for him to continue using ZC property. Because of the continued unlawful use of the ZC vehicle, ZC approached the police to retrieve from a former employee what belongs to it."

It later emerged that Tatenda Taibu, the former captain who quit international cricket, had also been contacted by the police. He told Associated Press: "I am not handing over the car until I have been paid all the money I am owed in several months' salary and Test match fees amounting to a large sum of money." Ebrahim said on his release: "Like Tatenda said, they are not getting the car until they pay me all the money I am due, which is a lot."

Ebrahim and Taibu are among a number of players who are still owed around $200,000 in backpay. ZC has repeatedly avoided settling, and even though they were supposed to be paid in US dollars, the players claim that ZC has only offered to settle in Zimbabwe dollars at a derisory exchange rate.

"The issue of Ebrahim's payment is separate from his continued use of the ZC vehicle," the spokesman said. "However, for the record, Ebrahim collected part of his payment from us and rejected the other cheque saying it was not in the form he wanted, possibly foreign currency. As we have said before, we are under advice to pay in local currency. Thus, the payment that Ebrahim says is outstanding to him is only so because he has made it that."

Although the strike by leading players ended last week when almost all of them signed new contracts, the issue of backpay remains unresolved. Critics of the board claim that it has no money, and it is also reported that ZC has approached the ICC and asked for an advance of the money it will receive from the 2007 World Cup to help it meet its running costs.