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Zimbabwe cricket again in turmoil

Zimbabwe cricket's latest bombshell exploded today when the Mashonaland Cricket Association announced that it was not recognising Zimbabwe Cricket, the reincarnation of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union

Steven Price

Peter Chingoka: keeping it in the family? © Getty Images
Zimbabwe cricket's latest bombshell exploded today when the Mashonaland Cricket Association announced that it was not recognising Zimbabwe Cricket, the reincarnation of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union. The province has also withdrawn its teams from domestic competitions, including the Logan Cup, Zimbabwe's first-class tournament.
The MCA's actions came after months of brewing discontent over the costly relaunch of Zimbabwean cricket. Sources say the national body failed to obtain the permission of its clubs and provincial associations before spending Zim$600 million (about £60,000) on the design of a new logo for the organisation and the name change.
One reason the board acted unilaterally might be because the logo was allegedly designed by the wife of Peter Chingoka, ZC's chairman. Chingoka himself is reported to have negotiated a deal in which he is to be paid Zim$60 million (£6000) as a consultant to the board he already heads, although this has not been confirmed.
Ozias Bvute, meanwhile, is apparently on the verge of being appointed as ZC's managing director, a post he currently fills in an acting capacity. As MD, Bvute will reportedly earn Zim$75 million (£7500) a month. As a comparison, Brendan Taylor, one of Zimbabwe's less experienced players, is thought to earn Zim$3.5 million (£350) a month.
Bvute, a ZC director, was at the centre of the storm that broke in April when Heath Streak lost the Zimbabwe captaincy after questioning the behaviour of certain powerful figures in the ZCU.
The MCA's chairman, Tavengwa Mukhlani, who is also a member of the Zimbabwe Cricket board, was forced to step down after 19 of the province's 20 clubs called for his head. The clubs blamed him for not doing anything to prevent the rebranding.
"Under the constitution the change of name should have been debated at all levels, club and provincial, and the provincial chairmen should have been able to meet so as to ratify it," the clubs said. "This did not happen".

The logo at the centre of the storm © Zimbabwe Cricket
An MCA official said there had already been an official backlash following the decision. "People have been threatened. They tell us we are fighting the paymaster."
The MCA accurately described itself as "the largest stakeholder in the ZCU" in Thursday's release, and its contention that the changes have "taken them completely by surprise" will alarm many.
"The manner in which ZCU directors have changed the name and logo demonstrates indifference and even contempt for the provincial cricket associations which are stakeholders in Zimbabwean cricket and ultimately give the union its existence," the MCA said. The provincial body clearly believed the money had been wasted: "The MCA are unable to countenance the large sums of money spent by the ZCU on their name and logo change and on the launch of the new ZC image. This comes hard on the heels of persistent refusals and delays by the ZCU to approve applications by clubs within the MCA for funding assistance, the reason given by the ZCU for declining is that it is suffering financial constraints. The same reasons have been given for the poor welfare of first-class players where players' and umpires' allowances have been drastically reduced and players are being made to sleep in brothels and lodges."
The whiff of corruption surrounding the affair was strong enough for the MCA to lose all faith in ZC's ability and suitability to lead and control cricket in Zimbabwe. "Because the MCA believes ZC to have been established unconstitutionally and ultra vires, it wishes to call for an immediate resolution of the position, pending which the MCA cannot recognise the new ZC. It therefore follows that the MCA will disassociate itself with the day-to-day running of the new ZC and with any competitions operated under the auspices of that body, such as the National League, the Faithwear competition and the Logan Cup.
"The manner in which the ZCU board has operated in this instance calls into question their commitment to their stakeholders, the provinces, and has resulted in the MCA losing confidence in the ability of the board to lead cricket in Zimbabwe.
"The MCA therefore wishes to move a vote of no-confidence in the board of directors of ZC. If upheld, the board would need to be dissolved and the associations would then convene to appoint an interim board of directors operating with limited powers until such a time as fresh elections could be held in terms of the ZCU constitution."
The MCA also took aim at the section of the ZCU constitution that effectively allows directors of the board to keep their seats whatever the wishes of provinces they are meant to serve. "The MCA also believes that clause 18 of the present ZCU constitution is unlawful and must be removed with immediate effect," the statement continued. "This clause has taken away cricket from its stakeholders [provinces] and we need to get it back. We need a democratically elected board which is accountable to its stakeholders."
Zimbabwe Cricket issued a strongly worded press release denying the allegations. Part of it read: "An MCA board meeting was held yesterday (8 December 2004) and the majority voted against the statement that was released today. It must be stated that the individuals who addressed today's news conference were acting outside their mandate, and one has to question their motive. We are suspicious that some of the individuals who called this conference have reacted in this way to cloud the issues in an attempt to deflect the serious allegations of misconduct which have been brought to our attention."
The statement continued: "Certain information came to our notice during the course of last week, which is partly consistent with a report that appeared in one of the newspapers. Investigations are underway and, on the basis of information received to date, consideration is being given on whether or not to suspend some of the individuals in terms of the country's labour laws."