The power struggle in Zimbabwean cricket has raged on this week, with the police being dispatched to secure Zimbabwe Cricket's office in Harare, amid allegations that ousted board chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani has instructed ZC employees not to turn up for work.
The suspension put in place by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) last week targeted only the board and acting managing director, and the SRC had hoped that unaffected ZC employees would return to work this week. This has not been the case, however, and Gerald Mlotshwa, the SRC chairman, has accused Mukuhlani of "sabotage" and of orchestrating the stay-away. The SRC is a government parastatal and the governing organisation of all registered sporting associations in the country
"Staff are still not turning up for work in the expected numbers at ZC Headquarters despite the SRC, through the public media, encouraging all to return for work as usual," Mlotshwa said yesterday.
"It is clear that key staff are being intimidated about returning to work under the interim committee. I have a recorded conversation stating that guards at ZC premises were instructed by the ZC security manager to go home as there was 'no work', on Monday," Mlotshwa added.
Mlotshwa made the same allegations in a letter sent to ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney explaining the situation earlier this week. "This is happening at most of ZC premises, including Harare Sports Club, where the groundsmen reported that they had been told to go back home by the suspended ZC chairman until further notice," Mlotshwa wrote. "There appears to be an orchestrated attempt to cause maximum confusion, fear and despondency within the employees of ZC, including the professional cricketers themselves."
Mlotshwa also explained that police had been dispatched to ZC's headquarters "to ensure that no assets or other documents, especially of a financial nature, left the premises".
"This is in light of the impending forensic audit into the financial affairs of Zimbabwe Cricket over the years, including the manner in which public and International Cricket funds have been utilised," Mlotshwa wrote. It is believed that the SRC is preparing to present the ICC with a formal dossier on the situation at ZC.
"We believe that the concerns of SRC coincide with that of the ICC," Mlotshwa's letter continued. "Zimbabwe Cricket cannot continue to lurch from one controversy to another. It must all end and be resolved conclusively in the best interests of Zimbabwean cricket."
Amid all this, Mukuhlani has maintained that his board remain the legitimate ZC leadership despite the formation of an interim committee, headed by David Ellman-Brown, to run cricket in the country. Mukuhlani has also accused that Mlotshwa of having a "personal vendetta" against him.
"In so far as we are concerned we are a legitimate board, we were properly elected through a proper electoral process," Mukuhlani was quoted as saying by the Herald newspaper.
Mukuhlani denied allegations of financial malfeasance, saying: "Everyone at ZC is innocent until proven guilty." He insisted that his board would not co-operate with a new audit into ZC finances until the results of a previous audit are received, accusing the SRC of having a "predetermined outcome" in mind.
"That's why they want a new audit and we are not going to accept that," Mukuhlani said. "We will only accept an audit that comes from the ICC."
The suspended board members have taken their fight to the courts, filing an urgent application at the High Court and seeking a temporary suspension of the SRC's decision, pending the outcome of an Administrative Court hearing.
"Indeed, the suspended members of Zimbabwe Cricket, including the acting managing director Givemore Makoni, filed an appeal with the Administrative Court on the 24th of June 2019," Mlotshwa explained.
"I am glad that they are going to court, this is a correct and civilised way of dealing with grievances. Let's let the court do its work and pronounce its verdict regarding the grievances of the suspended directors."