Zimbabwe: SRC Stand Firm On Zim Cricket

After tinkering with the wrath of the International Cricket Council by interfering in the affairs of running cricket in this country, the Sports and Recreation Commission says they are duty bound to protect the laws of the land when there is suspicion of a criminal nature by local administrators.

On Friday the Sports Commission suspended the entire Zimbabwe Cricket board and its managing director, Givemore Makoni, on allegations of defying their orders, among a hosts of other allegations.

The Tavengwa Mukuhlani-led executive ostensibly caught the fury of the Sports Commission after going ahead with their elective Annual General Meeting despite being ordered not to by the country's supreme sports body.

In an earlier interview with The Herald, Mukuhlani said they defied the order after getting the backing of the ICC and the delegates who participated at the meeting in Victoria Falls.

However, the Sports Commission last week flexed their muscles and suspended the newly-elected ZC board, a move that might put the country on a collision course with the international cricket governing body -- ICC.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, the Sports Commission board chairman Gerald Mlotshwa said they cannot allow the country to be held at ransom in fear of attracting international sanctions.

"People are throwing this idea of ICC suspension to try and get the SRC to say let us not do anything. But you know what? We cannot be held at ransom from what the ICC might do and might not do.

"The SRC is simply implementing the laws of Zimbabwe, what the ICC decides to do with respect to what has been happening here is at the discretion of the ICC.

"You need to have an understanding and appreciation of suspending a member, it does not happen overnight, there is a process to it, and as and when they start implementing those decisions if at all, we will engage them at that level," Mlotshwa said.

"So let us leave the ICC out of this, it is not fair on them, they are not here on the ground, let us deal with the Zimbabwe Cricket, let us deal with the SRC.

"Let us not deal on speculations, because those speculations in the past have stopped people from doing anything, to arrest what is happening in Zimbabwe.

"Must we allow allegations of a criminal nature to go un-investigated because we are scared of what the ICC might do?

"How do you know that the ICC is not in support of what we are doing?" asked Mlotshwa.

Mukuhlani's administration is pressing on with their innocence, and on Monday they challenged their suspension at law.

In their grounds of appeal seen by this publication, they maintained purity and also argue that the Sports Commission has no power to appoint an interim committee.

"The 1st Respondent's decision to appoint an interim committee is Irrational for it is contrary to s 30 (2) of the Sports and Recreation Committee in terms of which such power is reposed in the Minister only," reads part of the argument.

Meanwhile, the Sports Commission are trying to return normalcy to cricket after ZC workers failed to report for duty on Monday with association's offices closed.

Yesterday, the Sports Commission met the interim ZC chairman, David Ellman-Brown and ZC staff, but the meeting did not go according to plan as few workers had reported for duty.

Mlotshwa attributed the low turn-out to sabotage by the suspended board, but was optimistic business will return to normalcy at ZC today.

In fact, the Sports Commission will this morning meet the ZC staff to discuss the imminent forensic audit and to reassure the employees that "it is business as normal" as the stand-off between the two parties rages on.

On Monday, the ZC employees were locked out after the suspended directors locked the premises with instructions that no one is to enter the premises.

In turn, the Sports Commission deployed the police to seal off the area so that important assets were not removed prior to the audit.

In a press statement released yesterday, the Sports Commission board chairman Mlotshwa and interim chairman Ellman-Brown said they will meet with the ZC staff at their offices today.

"Please be advised that the SRC Board Chairman Mr Gerald Mlotshwa and the Interim Chairman Mr David Ellman-Brown will be meeting with all Zimbabwe Cricket staff tomorrow (today) at 0900hrs at the Zimbabwe Cricket Offices at number 28 Maiden Drive Newlands Harare.

"The purpose of the meeting is to reassure staff that it is business as normal and to discuss with them the impending Forensic Audit," read the statement.

The Sports Commission have since written to the ICC explaining the recent developments in Zimbabwe.

An interim board led by former ZC chairman and CEO Ellman-Brown is set to take over the affairs of the organisation until new election is held by September next year.

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