THE international probe into racism allegations in Zimbabwe cricket prematurely ended in Harare yesterday after the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) and white players implicating its chiefs in
the saga reached a stalemate.
The International Cricket Council (ICC)-initiated inquiry, heard before India’s solicitor-general Goolam Vahanvati and South African high court judge Steven Majiedt, had to be called off because “the players had remained steadfast” that they did not want the ZCU officials present when they gave their evidence.
The start of the in-camera hearing was delayed on Wednesday morning after Harare lawyer Chris Venturas, representing sacked white players, sought to bar ZCU officials from the room while former skipper Heath Streak, Stuart Carlisle and Trevor Gripper testified.
The players objected to the presence of ZCU board members Macsood Ebrahim and Ozias Bvute and Mashonaland Cricket Association chairman Tavengwa Mkuhlani – who they say are implicated in the racism charges.
ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka was also present at the hearing.
But the ZCU, represented by South African advocate Norman Arendse, argued that as in any normal court proceeding the allegations could not be presented in their absence.
After deliberating on the contentions, the ICC panel had only requested, in the interests of making progress, the ZCU officials to leave but they refused.
The panel adjourned the proceedings in the hope that Venturas and Arendse would meet on Wednesday night to defuse the impasse and allow the probe to flow smoothly, but they did not.
Yesterday morning Vahanvanti and Majiedt then decided to indefinitely adjourn the hearing after “finding ourselves in an untenable position”.
The ZCU had said it would withdraw from the proceedings if its administrators were barred, while the players insisted they could not go ahead if the union’s officials were allowed to stay in.
The panel ruled: “No purpose would be served in continuing the hearing without either of the protagonists.”
The ICC panel will now rely on submissions in writing to be made by both sides expected to be handed in before Vahanvanti and Majiedt fly out to London tonight.
The panel will present its findings and recommendations before the ICC executive meets in Lahore, Pakistan, on October 17.
Meanwhile, the ICC panel castigated Venturas for claiming he had been gagged from talking to the press and misrepresenting facts of the proceedings.
Arendse also threatened to sue and report Venturas to the Law Society of Zimbabwe for claiming that the South African lawyer had shoved and insulted Streak. He demanded an apology.
“My phone has not stopped ringing as my family, friends and colleagues are worried if I had done anything. This has tarnished my reputation,” Arendse said as he demanded an apology from Venturas.
The two lawyers immediately went into private conversation, and it could not be established if they had resolved the quarrel.