Zimbabwe: ZC Make Giant Strides in Debt Dissolution

Bulawayo — Zimbabwe Cricket have made giant strides, under the International Cricket Council-controlled funding scheme, after virtually settling the delicate issue of loans which were chocking the domestic game.

So grave was the problem of the ZC liabilities Zimbabwe's Full Membership at the ICC was even under huge threat if a solution had not been found.

ZC have now finally paid off the ICC loan, which was US$3 million, and the $10 million local bank loans, which were in 2017 housed under the Zimbabwe Asset Management Corporation (ZAMCO).

The non-performing loans with CBZ Bank, Metbank, Ecobank as well as NMB were housed under ZAMCO in 2017 after ZC got a 30 percent discount haircut.

According to ZC chairman, Tavengwa Mukuhlani, the controlled release of funds from the ICC was meant to address the issue of loans, settle legacy debt and put in place systems to control expenditure, primarily the wage bill. Initially, ZC were meant to pay off the ICC loan and loans under ZAMCO in December. With these having now been cleared ahead of schedule, ZC are on course to come off ICC's controlled funding.

ZC are now left with a debt of $1 million, which is in the process of being verified by Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Mukuhlani stated the plan was to pay off the remaining arrears in the third quarter of this year.

"The controlled funding that we are on from the ICC was supposed to address three key issues -- the legacy loans, the creditors and the systems," said Mukuhlani.

"So, the loans have been paid, the remaining creditors, we will finish in the third quarter of this year and, finally, we want to put a robust system that ensures that there is proper financial management at ZC.

"We are on course," Mukuhlani said.

As soon as ZC can demonstrate they have addressed the issues, which led to the introduction of the monitored financial support, the matter will be brought before the ICC board for a determination.

Should the game's highest decision makers be satisfied Zimbabwe Cricket was now on a firm footing, ZC will go back to receiving funds twice a year from the ICC.

"Once we have completed, and fully satisfied these three conditions, controlled funding then falls away because it has served its purpose," said Mukuhlani.

"It's up to the ICC board, it's not a Zimbabwe Cricket decision that we make alone.

"When controlled funding falls away, we go back to the normal system where we get money (twice a year) from the ICC, in January and July."

The ZC boss paid tribute to fellow ICC member countries for giving Zimbabwe a chance to sort out its financial mess, which threatened the country's Full Member status. Mukuhlani was also grateful to the efforts of the Zimbabwean Government for playing an instrumental role in finding a solution to the organisation's financial quagmire.

"All the member countries on the ICC board gave us a chance, in 2015 Zimbabwe was destined for losing its Full Membership and its Test status, mainly because of our financial status.

"We did not meet the membership criteria for the ICC.

"We are grateful to all the members, who sit on the board and who gave us a chance, they gave us conditions which we met, we proved to be able to work with a certain budget and here we are, we have fulfilled what we needed to do," said Mukuhlani.

The ZC board held a video conference meeting on May 24 where they appraised each other of the new developments that the loans were no longer appearing on the association's books.

They also approved the financial report, which must now be ratified by the delegates at the annual meeting on June 23.

Once that happens, the financials will be sent out to the Sports and Recreation Commission, as well as the ICC.

The picture is in sharp contrast to the darkness which was enveloping Zimbabwe cricket in June, two years ago, when the country survived the threat of suspension from the ICC, in Dublin, Ireland, in what was a massive boardroom victory for the nation's second biggest sporting franchise.

The ICC, instead, chose to throw their full weight behind the revival of the domestic sport.

Had the suspension been effected, the ICC would have turned off the taps that have been providing the game with its critical financial support, paralysing the sport here and plunging it into darkness.

The ICC wanted, and received, a guarantee from local cricket leaders that the then multi-million-dollar debt, which stood at around $19 million, owed to local banks will get a 30 percent discount on the principal amount with the world governing body also providing a similar haircut on the amount which ZC owed them.

The threat of suspension was averted after a ZC delegation, led by Mukhuhani and consultant Vince van der Bijl, successfully fought the cocktail of sanctions and even received fresh commitment from the ICC leaders for a helping hand in the revival of the game in this country.

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