Zimbabwe Cricket chairman's angry reply to criticism March 30, 2006

Chingoka comes out all guns blazing

Cricinfo staff

Peter Chingoka, Zimbabwe Cricket's embattled chairman, has launched a stinging attack on those who have criticised the way that the game is being run in Zimbabwe.

Replying to a letter sent to the ICC by Charlie Robertson and Ethan Dube, two senior administrators, Chingoka questioned their credentials and claimed that they wanted "democracy is only when it suits your interests".

He continued: "It seems that you two reverend gentlemen would like to keep the sport in your perceived enclave and maintain the status quo to the disadvantage of those previously left out. It is sad to note your views on this subject yet some of the people who have benefited from the deliberate ZC policy of widening the base of talent are now being roped in by yourselves to think that such a policy is bad. We have irrefutable evidence of interference with the players by your lot. The true picture you are hiding from them is that you want continuous control at the helm of the game."

Chingoka went on to dismiss suggestions that the board was racist. "Allegations peddled from your corner on some such allegations are spurious and go on to show the die-hard nature of your past agendas" he wrote. "That is doomed to fail."

Turning to the current state of affairs, Chingoka claimed that the situation was not as dire as Robertson and Dube stated, but was getting better. "Our team is a young one being nurtured for bigger things to come. It is being developed for a better future and Test cricket status. Suspending Test matches was a deliberate policy by the board to ensure that the team grows and develops in the interim.

"The current team is doing fine," Chingoka explained. "We wish good luck to those who do not want to play for Zimbabwe because of enticements given to them. Zimbabwe Cricket has not denied any person from playing cricket for the national team. If you were genuine in your efforts to encourage team work, we would have seen the results from efforts to resolve perceived differences and talking to players to play for the country."

Turning to the involvement of the government's Sports & Recreation Committee, which took control of the board in January and immediately reappointed Chingoka as chairman, he stated: "The SRC has done nothing wrong. Its actions have brought tranquility into sport. Its undue criticism by yourselves is not a surprise because you do not want the game to be spread in order for talent to be tapped nationwide. You are against the SRC because of their stance on this issue. It is sad to note that 26 years after independence you still hold on to archaic ideas."

He also brushed aside allegations that money was missing from the board's accounts, pointing out that an independent auditor was now at work. "The police have finished their investigations. Our lawyers told us that the former board was guilty of contravening sections of the Exchange Control Act. Consequently no individual is to be charged but the board.

He signed off: "Please be advised that it is always good to remove the log in one's eye before pointing at the speck in another's."

But the letter also made a number of extremely serious allegations against Ahmed Ebrahim, the former vice-president of the board and a former Supreme Court judge, who led the opposition to Chingoka last year. It also made allegations against Macsood Ebrahim, Ahmed's son and a former leading administrator and national selector. Those are likely to ensure that this matter is far from finished.