The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Pan African Development Foundation Slams Coltart

THE Pan African Development Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation that has taken a huge interest in sport, says the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture David Coltart, is pursuing a dangerous and divisive mission in cricket.

Coltart has come under fire following a package of measures, which he ordered the Sports Commission to enforce on national associations, which have been questioned as having a hidden agenda to erode the progress that blacks have made into mainstream administrative structures in cricket.

The Sports Commission recently ordered that from February 1, this year, only people who have played sport at national level will be allowed to be chairpersons in sporting disciplines where the national team is chosen by a panel of selectors.

ZC convenor of selectors, Givemore Makoni, has sharply criticised Coltart for crafting a policy that makes a mockery of the racial barriers that they faced, during their playing days, in trying to squeeze their way into the national team.

The ZC, in an official response last week, said it was impossible for them to implement the directive without compromising their constitution, which was duly registered with the Sports Commission, and contravening their contractual obligations with the selectors already in place.

ZC managing director, Wilfred Mukondiwa, said the Sports Commission was turning a blind eye to the challenges that the game faced, before the turn of the millennium, which restricted the opportunities of scores of black players to wear their national colours.

PANAD, who say their mission is to extend the economic empowerment and indeginisation benefits to the majority of Zimbabweans, said Coltart was completely offside and needed to be stopped before he inflicts more harm on cricket.

"PANAD is deeply concerned with the recent developments in Zimbabwe Cricket and registers its displeasure over what has been happening on one of our two biggest sporting disciplines," the organisation's chairman, Ignatius Pamire, and secretary-general, Lovemore Sithole, said in a statement.

"Given the racist background of our cricket, where black players had to leap various hurdles before they could be considered for the national team, we find the Minister's directive to be absurd because it doesn't take into account the historical challenges that blacks faced in their attempts to play for the national team.

"It is ridiculous that the Minister tries to ignore the fact that there was racial prejudice in cricket and scores of blacks, in the '80s and '90s, faced discrimination, on the basis of their skin colour, in their attempts to play for their national team."

PANAD said people like Makoni suffered, not because they were not good enough to play for their country, but simply because the game they loved was a closed shop for them.

To try and keep them out of that game's administrative structures today, said PANAD, on the basis that they didn't play for a national team that had racial barriers, would be an insult.

"These people cannot be compensated and to punish them today, by keeping them out of the key structures of the sport like the Panel of Selectors, using the card that they didn't play the game for a national team that was a racist grouping, will be a tragedy.

"How heartless can we ever come as a nation? Only yesterday, these guys could only watch as white players, who were not in any way as talented as they were, played for the national team, simply because they were white. You suffer a lot, especially psychologically, when you go through all that.

"Today, a white Minister comes along and tells us that the same white boys, who only qualified to play for the national team on the basis of the colour of their skin, are the only ones qualified to hold such influential positions of authority like sitting on the Panel of Selectors.

"This is ridiculous and, as PANAD, we are totally opposed to such madness hence we appeal to the Government to put a stop to such reckless directives that have racial undertones."

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