THE International Cricket Council (ICC) will continue with its tighter control over the operations of cricket in Zimbabwe, while players will have a bigger say in the affairs of the game, as part of a settlement deal signed yesterday for the reinstatement of the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) board.
By Enock Muchinjo
Yesterday, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), the country’s sports regulatory body, announced reinstating the suspended ZC board to avoid expulsion by the ICC, which last month suspended Zimbabwe’s membership and withdrew funding over alleged government interference in the sport.
As part of the agreement reached to bring back the suspended board into office, ZC is to appoint in the next two months a new substantive managing director highly recommended by the ICC.
A copy of the settlement, obtained by this newspaper yesterday, says the individual has already been identified and given the thumbs-up by the ICC.
“The second respondent (ZC board) agrees to appoint, within 60 days hereof, a substantive chief executive officer, being a person whose identity has already been agreed to with the International Cricket Council, and if not so appointed, the post will be advertised and recruitment thereof made on the recommendation of a reputable consultancy firm within a further period of 30 days,” reads the document.
Acting ZC managing director Givemore Makoni, whose suspension was also lifted yesterday, is expected to vacate the post he has held since former ICC finance chief Faisal Hasnain left the country under a dark cloud of uncertainty late 2017.
The settlement also puts a degree of powers in the hands of the players, who will have the right to appoint a former national team player on the ZC board to represent their interests.
The retired cricketer to be co-opted on the board by end of August will be one of two members with “verifiable and credible background in cricket and its administration”.
Reads the statement: “Additionally, the centrally-contracted cricketers shall be entitled to nominate one director for appointment to the board of directors of second respondent (ZC) by 31st August, 2019, which nominee shall be a retired cricketer previously centrally contracted.”
The SRC in June suspended the Tavengwa Mukuhlani-led board on allegations of corruption and electoral irregularities.
Mukuhlani had a week earlier been retained as ZC boss at an AGM which the SRC had barred from taking place, citing an uneven electoral environment and lingering mismanagement issues.
ZC defied the order and went ahead with the elections, resulting in the SRC sanctions.
The SRC immediately appointed an interim committee led by Dave Ellman-Brown, a former chief executive of the association and one of the key figures of the game in the country around the time Zimbabwe gained Test cricket status in the early 1990s.
And then last month at the ICC’s annual general meeting in London, the international body ruled that the Mukuhlani-led executive be reinstated before the next meeting on October 8, or else Zimbabwe risked being expelled altogether.
Zimbabwe is the first full member of the ICC to be suspended by the world cricket governing body.
In a statement yesterday, the SRC said it was lifting the suspension—paving way for reinstatement by the ICC.
“Accordingly, and pursuant to the said Court Order, the SRC hereby lifts the suspension of the Directors of ZC, including that of the Acting Managing Director, with immediate effect,” reads the letter by SRC chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa.
“The Interim Committee accordingly ceases to administer the affairs of Zimbabwe Cricket forthwith.”
Under the settlement, ZC also agreed to “restructure its constitution, governance and management structures at both provincial and national levels in order that it implements fully its Strategy Plan as agreed with the International Cricket Council in 2018.”
ZC, as part of the deal, has also undertaken to reconstitute its board committees and conduct a personnel audit for staffers in key managerial roles.
The ICC suspension has already caused major discomfort for Zimbabwe, who were this week replaced by Nigeria for the upcoming ICC men’s World T20 qualifier slated to be held in October in the United Arab Emirates.
The women’s national side have also been blocked from travelling to Scotland next month for a World T20 qualification tournament.
Fear of an ICC ban also resulted in the retirement of star all-rounder Sikandar Raza alongside batsman Solomon Mire.
The ICC has dug in its heels on the reinstatement of the Zimbabwe board despite widespread support for the SRC move to act against ZC.
Current star Brendan Taylor, former captain Tatenda Taibu and ex-international Grant Flower are among leading Zimbabwean figures to have publicly backed the SRC’s stance.
The SRC says it will retain the interim committee it had appointed as an advisory body on cricket matters.