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Coltart directive torches race storm

THE new Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) directive requiring all national team coaches and selectors to have represented the country has torched a storm in cricket circles, threatening the tranquility the sport has been enjoying after a decade of upheavals that endangered the game’s existence in the country.

Report by Kevin Mapasure

The directive stipulates that to be a selector you should have played for the national team, experience current Zimbabwe Cricket convener of selectors Givemore Makoni lacks.

Makoni was the first to react to the directive which threatens his job by describing it as “utter rubbish and racist”.

Part of the SRC directives issued by SRC director-general Charles Nhemachena reads: “With effect from 1 February 2013, all national sport associations whose national team selection is conducted by national selectors shall ensure that such selectors have the requisite experience and skills.  In particular, no person shall be appointed as a selector unless they have represented Zimbabwe in the particular sport.

“Where circumstances justify the appointment of a foreign coach as a selector, authority to appoint such person shall be sought from the SRC.  The commission will exercise its discretion to determine whether it would be reasonable and in the national interest to grant or deny such request. In this instance, it would still be a requirement that such persons provide evidence of having the requisite international experience, albeit for another nation.”

Makoni has accused Education, Sport and Culture minister David Coltart of devising this regulation to “to get rid of everyone who fought for equality”.

“Coltart was the mastermind of the black armband protest by Andy Flower and Henry Olonga (in the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa),” said Makoni. “We fought for equality in the game because as blacks we were not getting equal opportunities as our white counterparts.

“Coltart promised fellow racists to restore the old order once he got into office and his grand plan is coming to its fruition now, but we will not allow that.

“Coltart was a member of the ‘royal family’ of untouchables who wanted to make sure black players were excluded. We fought that system and now we are giving everyone equal opportunity and they want to reverse the gains of the prevailing peace,” Makoni fumed.

Coltart admitted coming up with the new measures but denied they were in any way aimed at individuals.

“We have had problems in the Warriors and we have had problems in bowls,” said Coltart. “We want to have the right people in coaching positions in football and also cricket and other sports. I don’t think the people who are making such allegations have gone through the whole document.”

The directive would bar Makoni from the selection panel and also threatens Steve Mangongo’s quest for the national cricket team coaching job which would be vacant in April when Alan Butcher’s contract expires.

Butcher has not applied for the job while Mangongo, one of the most experienced local coaches, has applied.

The ZC board will soon announce the new technical set- up and the new selection panel which would be guided by the SRC rules.
Makoni had been earmarked to continue in his capacity.

Makoni argued that had it not been for the system which excluded black players, he and many others would have played for the national team.

“We played club cricket for Takashinga and we used to beat teams that the likes of Heath Streak and Grant Flower represented but we were never picked for the national team,” said Makoni.

“It is not our fault that we didn’t play for the national team. It was because of the system and we cannot be further disadvantaged. What is so special about the game that somebody who has club cricket will fail to comprehend?”

He said Coltart is aware that there aren’t enough ex-black national team players to appoint as selectors and coaches of the national team meaning that the old order of an-all white panel of selectors would be restored. That also means a black Zimbabwean cannot coach the national team as no ex-black players are coaches at the moment.
But Coltart said there were many former black players who represented the country in Tests who could fill the posts.

“I do not think it is true that we had any black players who could have represented that were denied opportunities the country in the last 32 years. But we have people like Ethan Dube and Tatenda Taibu to name just those who can be national team selectors,” said Coltart.
However, Makoni said Dube has never played for the national team and this proves that this latest directive is targeted at black selectors and coaches.

Coltart also questioned past selection decisions, but Makoni argued that whites cannot accept that they can be dropped from the national team.

“Why is it that there are always issues whenever a white player is dropped? Right now pressure is being put on us to select captain Brendan Taylor even after he failed another fitness test, but when it’s a black player, it’s a non-event,” said Makoni.

He said Coltart cannot suddenly act as the saviour of cricket in this country when he was among those who stopped England from touring Zimbabwe and tried to persuade the International Cricket Council to revoke Zimbabwe’s membership.

“We rebuilt cricket from scratch when white players walked out without any help from Coltart and now that he realises that the coalition government tenure is running out, he wants to leave a piece of regulation that returns control to the very same people who at one time attempted to collapse cricket simply because they were opposed to transformation,” Makoni said.

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