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CSA should not let Zimbabwe back in
03 Oct 2008
Peter Roebuck

Mtutuzeli Nyoka cannot be serious … an olive branch to Zimbabwe’s Peter Chingoka?

EVEN by the lamentable standards associated with cricket administrators, Mtutuzeli Nyoka’s first pronouncement as Cricket South Africa’s next president was profoundly discouraging.

Far from accepting responsibility for Gauteng’s pathetic inability to produce coloured cricketers, he sent out an olive branch to his counterparts in Zimbabwe, the worst bunch of rogues ever to attain high office in the game of bat and ball.

Apparently, he intends to invite them to take part in domestic competitions. It is a dreadful concession calculated to dishonour the game.

If restoring links with the despots across the Limpopo is the newcomer’s highest aspiration, then he is unworthy of his office.

He is also ill-informed about the state of affairs in Zimbabwean cricket. Norman Arendse — his recently deposed predecessor — had his faults, but at least saw through the cosy reassurances and dark insinuations that Peter Chingoka and his thuggish ally, Ozias Bvute, use to protect their reputations.

It is high time that Africa starts to demand more from its leaders than bullying and banditry. Happily, the presidents of Liberia, Tanzania, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia and elsewhere have higher expectations.

Nyoka seems to be merely another apologist prepared to betray the common man in order to protect misbegotten leaders.

Perhaps he believes the nonsense that only racists and colonialists condemn Chingoka and his Zanu-PF cronies, a convenient untruth peddled by compromised men whose bank accounts have in recent times bulged like a snake after eating a chicken.

Some of us receive daily reports from black Zimbabweans describing their plight. In Mandela, Tutu and company, this continent houses the greatest leaders alive. Alas, men of a different ilk are loose in Zimbabwean cricket (ZC).

Far from taking Chingoka, Bvute and their racist cronies at face value, Nyoka ought to insist upon the immediate release of the official audit of the ZC accounts. After all, the game’s governing body itself requested the report as a means of ending controversy.

No sooner had it been presented by a reputable company, though, than the audit was buried. Ever since, tame officials have implied that the report does not implicate Chingoka or Bvute in any serious malfeasance. In that case, release the damn thing so that sceptics can examine it.

In that case, explain the resignation of Malcolm Speed, a CEO not given to dramatic gestures and without a radical bone in his body. Past ZC officials have a hundred questions to ask. One shona stakeholder described Chingoka as “malign”. He is plausible, skilful and nasty.

Far from prematurely inviting Zimbabwe to take part in local competitions, CSA should wait until the bad odour has been removed. Bear in mind that ZC gets its full allocation of funds.

Where has all the money gone? Nyoka and chums might observe the conduct of the players themselves. Not the older hands whose anger has long been disdained by Chingoka, but the more easily manipulated and intimidated youths.

During the winter, some of the most promising players sought openings at clubs and provinces overseas. Although it is too dangerous for them to say anything publicly as long as Zanu-PF retains power (it is as hard to find a good man in Zanu-PF in 2008 as it was with the Nazis in 1942) they are voting with their feet.

Doubtless remembering the violence directed at him and his family by Bvute’s hirelings, Tatenda Taibu has been taking soundings in Melbourne. Hamilton Mazakadza has been in Sydney.

More recently, Brendan Taylor signed for a club in Melbourne, whilst Sean Williams has left for greener pastures in South Africa. Meanwhile, several committed cricketers attend university in South Africa, where they are sustained by sincere and appalled outsiders.

everal teams could be raised from ex-patriates, none of whom wanted to leave their country, none of whom trust their former bosses. Whether ZC can from its remaining resources raise a side capable of holding its own in anything except a youth tournament is debatable.

So much for Ray Mali’s absurd remark about Zimbabwe soon challenging for top ranking in one-day cricket. But then Mali is as odious and superficial as his friend Chingoka.

CSA should not allow ZC back on to the gravy train. Of course the players themselves are not to blame, but the administrators are vile, greedy and unendurable. No-one concerned about the game and its players could possibly abide them.

And the same applies to universities and rugby teams. Everyone associated with Zanu ought to be sent packing. Let them die in drunken and despised misery, comforted only by their millions stashed in overseas accounts.

ventually the people’s voice will resonate again, whereupon the country and its cricket can resume its long journey towards justice.

•Peter Roebuck is an international cricket correspondent based in the KZN midlands.

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