Zim Cricket, SRC standoff: Mlotshwa agenda unmasked

Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC)’s pre-conceived agenda on Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has been exposed in a leaked audio recording where ousted national coaches Steve Mangongo and Heath Streak can be heard allegedly plotting the downfall of the suspended board.

Recently appointed SRC chairman, Gerald Mlotshwa who is also President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son-in-law suspended the substantive ZC board, led by Tavengwa Mukuhlani, and replaced it with the interim one over two a weeks ago.

This came after ZC defied an SRC directive not to hold their board elections until an audit has been carried out by independent international audit firm. “Streak we need to move with speed, yes,”Mangongo is heard in the audio recording.

He adds: “You know like what I said that Givemore is getting into these kids and I know there’s this Takashinga bullshit which Givemore has fed into these boys so much.” 

Mangongo was a former Zimbabwe Under-19 coach while Streak was the senior men’s national team head coach.

Both were relieved off their duties by the ZC board over a string of poor results. 

Streak superintendent over a failed ICC World Cup Qualifiers at home that saw the locals being booted out of the tournament by minnows United Arab Emirates.

Mlotshwa, now SRC chairman, represented as a lawyer, both coaches in their fight to be reinstated to their positions by ZC but he lost the cases at the courts.

The SRC chairman,  also represented the provisional players cricket board and again lost the case and his lighting speed to suspend ZC is seen as a ploy to hit back at the cricket officials.

A game still sharply divided along racial lines, critics accuse Mlotshwa of being driven by white supremacy made worse by a general lack of  understanding of cricket issues adding that he is only concerned with replacing the current board that he has been fighting before.

The suspension of the Mukuhlani led board has seen ICC freezing its funding to ZC.

The cricket board has been receiving monthly cash distributions from the ICC under a well-publicised controlled funding mechanism agreed last year. Without the June allocation, ZC was unable to pay for the women’s team’s travel, throwing Zimbabwe’s preparations for the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier, to be held in Scotland in August-September, into disarray. ZC has also been unable to process the June salaries for players and staff. 

The involvement of the SRC, a government agency that ostensibly oversees all registered national sporting associations, has left the future of the game of cricket in Zimbabwe uncertain,” said ZC’s communication department last week. 

ICC policy dictates that member boards must manage their affairs without interference from government or public bodies.  ICC Chief Executive Officer Manu Sawhney in a letter to ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukhulani cited article 2,4 C and 2,4 D that talks about members holding free and democratic elections and the autonomy of members free from government interference. 

ICC in their letter, however, seemed to also take into into account the financial misappropriation  reason that was given by the Sports and Recreation Council when they ordered the postponement of ZC’s elective AGM. 

In his defence, Mlotshwa insists he is on a drive to clean up a sport that is crumbling from within.

The outcome of ICC’s board meeting regarding Zimbabwe will not affect in anyway the clear resolve of the SRC to deal with the contemptible rot in cricket no matter the consequences,” Mlotshwa told journalists last week.

Let’s forget about ICC money. Let’s focus on standing on our own two feet, on solid ground comprised of functioning grassroots programmes, a vibrant club structure, competitive provincial cricket and national sides, both women and men, born out solid structures.”