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Fresh crisis rocks cricket

Darlington Majonga

SOME administrators within the Mashonaland Cricket Association (MCA) have rallied clubs and rebel players to oust Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka and his entire board ostensibly o

ver the union’s recent unilateral change of name without consultation as the cricket crisis deepens.

The group lobbying for the no-confidence vote in the Zimbabwe Cricket board yesterday announced that the MCA would “disassociate” itself from the union and all competitions run under the auspices of the body. They also demanded that Clause 18 of the Zimbabwe Cricket constitution be repealed with immediate effect.

Zimbabwe Cricket yesterday dismissed the rebellion as a smokescreen, as the union moved to take legal action against three Takashinga administrators who were implicated in extortion allegations exposed by this paper last week.

“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,” Chingoka said in a statement.

“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.”

Chingoka was apparently referring to MCA general manager Givemore Makoni, his subordinate Elvis Sembezeya and national team selector Stephen Mangongo, the three Takashinga administrators implicated in an extortion scandal exposed by this paper last week. Takashinga Sports Club, an all-black club based in Harare’s Highfield high-density suburb, is a member of the MCA.

“The (extortion) allegations are of such a serious nature that they are likely to bring the game into disrepute and the ZC has consulted its legal practitioners as to what investigations and procedures are to be followed,” Chingoka said.

MCA chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani distanced himself and his board from the press conference at which the no-confidence vote decision was announced.

Sembezeya and Cyprian Mandenge, an MCA board member booted out of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union board last week, however volunteered to lead the press conference after the MCA board was divided over how to handle the clubs’ concerns.

“MCA believes that the purported attempt by the ZCU (Zimbabwe Cricket Union) to change its name and logo is unconstitutional and ultra vires because the stakeholders in the ZCU were not informed or consulted,” the MCA said in its statement read at the press conference yesterday.

“The manner in which ZCU directors has (sic) changed the name and logo demonstrates indifference and even contempt for the provincial cricket associations which are stakeholders in Zimbabwean cricket and ultimately give union its existence.”

The ZCU changed its name to Zimbabwe Cricket and redesigned its logo last month in a re-branding exercise that a senior administrator claims was decided and ratified by the Zimbabwe Cricket board last year.

“MCA clubs expressed displeasure with the name change because they hadn’t been consulted, and also Section 18 of the union’s constitution,” Mukuhlani told IndependentSport yesterday. “I admit we have problems with Zimbabwe Cricket from a constitutional point, but issues have been broadened to deal with people’s personalities and positions.”

Chairmen of the other six provinces affiliated to Zimbabwe Cricket at the weekend met and also expressed their reservations in the manner in which the name was changed and other constitutional concerns.

“I find it quite confusing that the MCA never raised any issue when we made our nominations for the ZCU board. We also never had any problem with the constitution and I find it unfortunate because we were part of it,” Mukuhlani said.

The MCA chairman said he was leading a committee that was reviewing the Zimbabwe Cricket constitution. “Why should we hurry? All provinces are in agreement that Section 18 must be reviewed,” Mukuhlani said.

The MCA statement said the 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.”

Takashinga have called for an extraordinary meeting tomorrow, where among other things they will agree on how to deal with this reporter for breaking the extortion scandal last week.

The executive of Takashinga this week allegedly breached their own constitution when they amended some clauses “overnight”, some of the club’s players said this week.

Sembezeya also clashed with national team coach Phil Simmons when he tried to summon Takashinga players in camp for national duty for an “impromptu meeting”.

Meanwhile, chairmen of Matabeleland Cricket Association, Masvingo Cricket Association, Manicaland Cricket Association, Midlands Cricket Association, Matabeleland Country Districts and Mashonaland Country Districts have expressed their “utmost disgust at what has allegedly been occurring to our young players”.

Five senior Zimbabwe national team players this week submitted affidavits while two other players wrote statements to Zimbabwe Cricket detailing how the Takashinga executive allegedly forced them to pay 10% of their match fees at national and provincial level to the club.

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