ALTHOUGH he managed to weather the storm and retain the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) chairmanship at its recent AGM, Peter Chingoka is battling against powerful dissent within the cricket frater
In fact, while there is hope for solutions to the current problems bedevilling cricket, investigations by this paper have revealed that the situation could get out of hand, resulting in the total collapse of the game.
Some members of ZCU provincial structures accuse Chingoka of intimidation and manipulation to suppress efforts to boot him out of office.
But Chingoka, in a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday, remained defiant, dismissing a plethora of allegations levelled against him and insisting that his leadership was on the right course for the development of the game.
He reiterated that there was a “third force working to destroy Zimbabwe’s cricket, which has an external element”.
The rift between the ZCU and groups opposed to Chingoka’s leadership is deepening. The main point of conflict is the firing of 15 senior white players by the ZCU board in April, which opened a can of worms that had remained concealed for a long time.
Tension caused by power struggles and allegations of racism and intimidation has been insidiously sucking energy from the game of cricket.
Former cricket administrator Ray Gripper spoke out this week on what he said was the use of intimidation and manipulation by Chingoka for the past three years in order for him to block constitutional amendments by members from provincial structures.
Chingoka and his colleagues on the board – the majority who have been there for the past three years – have also manipulated the system to safeguard their positions, Gripper alleged.
Gripper said that he was one of the people to whom Chingoka sent two years ago a man masquerading as an official from the President’s Office after they had called for constitutional and leadership changes.
Wellington Marowa, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Cricket Pioneers Association also confirmed that the same man had visited him after he had led his group in challenging the ZCU constitution as well as advocating leadership renewal.
“I feel it is now time for this to come out. I have been keeping quiet all along because I feared it could affect the career of my son, Trevor,” Gripper said on Wednesday.
“We, as a group calling itself Concerned Cricket Lovers, had challenged the board on the constitution. However, a man who claimed to have been sent from the President’s Office came to us and said that he had come to deliver President Mugabe’s message that Chingoka had to remain in power and that we had to stop our actions. It however later emerged that the person didn’t work for the President’s Office but had been hired to perform this duty.”
Marowa said: “We met this guy at the Botanic Gardens and Peter Chingoka was also in attendance. The guy claimed that he was coming from the President’s Office but failed to produce his credentials. We later tried to check with the President’s Office but it later emerged that he wasn’t a genuine government official.
“The guy said to us that he was strictly instructed by President Mugabe that Chingoka had to remain in office. He said that we had to stop our calls for leadership renewal as well as challenges to the constitution.”
Chingoka said about this matter: “The first issue about the person I am alleged to have sent and was masquerading as a CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation operative) is an old story and the police were actually involved. It isn’t worth commenting about now.”
Charley Robertson, the chairman of Mashonaland Country Districts, alleged that Chingoka and his board made an amendment to a clause in the ZCU constitution that all but ensured their hold on power.
“The current ZCU constitution means that the only people who can change the board are the board members,” said Robertson.
“Clause 18 of the constitution used to give powers to provincial chairmen to change the board. But it was changed two years ago to give the powers to the board only. Some of us only learnt about the change recently. This means that the current board has entrenched itself such that no one can challenge it. The system has been manipulated to retain the same people on the board but nobody on the current board has first class cricket experience.”
He added: “We are just on the wrong path. Our cricket is going backwards. We have a board that seems content with losing our major asset, which is the players. We risk losing our Test status all because of the leadership issue.”
Robertson said the option being considered is mobilising within the provinces for a challenge to the constitution. He said Mashonalannd Country Districts, Midlands and Matebeleland have already agreed to challenge the constitution.
Chingoka denied allegations that he was manipulating the constitution to ensure his stay in power.
“There was a special general meeting in 2001 where constitutional amendments were made through the right processes. On the issue of manipulation, there is no manipulating the whole system,” Chingoka said.
“You have to understand the whole process from provincial structures. The seven provincial structures all asked me to stand. How can you have seven provinces nominating you when there is an intention to pass a vote of no confidence in you?”