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Threats force Taibu into hiding

The seriousness of the struggle for power inside Zimbabwe became all too clear with the news that Tatenda Taibu, the country's captain, was forced into hiding last night after receiving threats

Cricinfo staff

Tatenda Taibu: received a threatening call at his home © AFP
The seriousness of the struggle for power inside Zimbabwe became all too clear with the news that Tatenda Taibu, the country's captain, was forced into hiding last night after receiving threats from an individual known to have close links to both Zimbabwe Cricket and Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
Yesterday, Taibu had been involved in a press conference where almost all Zimbabwe's players had lambasted the performance of the board and warned that unless there were changes, there could be another strike. ""The players have stood together in this," he said. "And we will always be together. If nothing materialises, then I am afraid we won't play."
In the evening it is understood that Taibu took a call at home from a known hardliner which left him shaken. The Sports & Recreation Commission moved Taibu, his wife, Loveness, and their four-week old baby to a hotel for their safety and he is now staying with friends. "I am taking the call very seriously," he said. "So much so I have decided to go and stay somewhere for a while. I will not be deterred by the threatening phone call in pursuing what I and all the others believe in, and what is right for us. But I left home for and while for my own safety."
That the players called the media conference to support claims made against Zimbabwe Cricket by leading administrators left Peter Chingoka, the ZC chairman, and his board isolated.
"They [ZC] want to use it as a racial issue," Taibu explained. "It's not. About 90% of the cricketers in this country are black. You are hearing it from the horse's mouth now, as the captain representing the players. The concerns [of the provincial chairmen] have our full support."
The players flagged contentious matters such as player contracts, the funding of the players' representative and players' safety after the pitch invasion by Mashonaland officials at a league game at Harare Sports Club. Despite the incident being reported to ZC, no action has been taken against those responsible.
"We do understand the difference which exists between player issues and governance issues," a statement issued on behalf of the players explained. "However when we find ourselves, as we do now, directly affected by governance issues which are impacting adversely upon our performance and living, we believe we have not only a right but a duty to speak out.
"We have also read that ZC is now planning to establish a further five provinces, and introduce people into cricket with dubious cricketing credentials. How can people such as Cyprian Mandenge, Themba Mliswa and Tawengwa Mukuhlani with their past history be good for the game? How will they portray our nation in good light in world cricket? Specifically, we are concerned by Mliswa, after his involvement with Zimbabwe rugby, when we see where rugby is now."
Mandenge is one of those accused of the pitch invasion where, it is claimed, he racially abused players and threatened others. Mliswa's track record in sport in dubious, and in a letter sent to the ICC by the provincial chairmen, he was accused of making threats against them and the future of Zimbabwe cricket.
"We realise that by coming forward in this way, we may risk our careers, especially as ZC has shown by its past that it will not hesitate to bully players. But we have no choice but to speak out. "We continue to play cricket, but are told we have no right to interfere in the administration of the game, even though that is having a marked and direct effect on our ability to perform. How can we sing in tune when our backing band is playing with no harmony?
"We are tired of being threatened by ZC, we are tired of the way ZC has sought to split us and attack us individually. We have lost confidence in the ability of the current incumbent chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket, Peter Chingoka, and the MD, Ozias Bvute."