By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
25 July 2014
Zimbabwe Cricket’s long-serving head Peter Chingoka has relinquished his position after 22 years as chairman and board member of the sports body.
Chingoka was first elected chairman in 1992 and held onto that position until his retirement this week. His deputy, Wilson Manase, will take over until Zim Cricket holds elections, at a date yet to be set. Maureen Kuchocha will deputise Manase.
Chingoka announced his decision to retire at a board meeting held Thursday during which other changes were made to the coaching structure.
In a statement, Zim Cricket said Chingoka’s “decision was based on the need to have a well defined succession plan in which it had been agreed that a year before his term he would step down and assist the incoming chairman.
“He will therefore impart his knowledge based on experience and at times undertake missions assigned by the Board upon request.”
The retirement was of Chingoka’s “own accord”, Zim Cricket indicated. Cricket fans say he had overstayed his welcome, with cricketers passing a vote-of-no-confidence in him on several occasions.
Some of the complaints against Chingoka are that he presided over the complete ruination of a once-vibrant sport through maladministration, financial misuse and rampant corruption.
One of his recent scandals involved the misuse of the $9 million loan obtained from International Cricket on condition that the money would be used to service Zim Cricket’s debts with local banks.
However Chingoka, Manase and former managing director Ozias Bvute defied this condition and invested $6 million of this loan in a non-interest bearing account at Metbank where they hold senior positions.
Morale within the team hit its lowest under Chingoka’s watch, with players going unpaid for months, leading to boycotts and general poor performance on the field.
Eliah Zvimba, chief executive officer at the Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers Association, told SW Radio Africa that Chingoka’s departure was long overdue.
“There isn’t much to celebrate as the damage has already been done. There has been no development in the sport, standards have nosedived, and Chingoka and the board have done little to nurture the talent we have in this country.”
Zvimba said players were not convinced that Manase will bring about any changes to the way Zim Cricket has been handling the sport.
“The mindset is the same and we will be surprised if he does things differently. We are willing to support him as much as we can but Manase and Chingoka are birds of the same feather and he is unlikely to improve anything.”
Former Education and Sports Minister David Coltart shared the same view. “Manase will continue where Chingoka left off but has the disadvantage of never having played cricket himself. As for the rest – no comment,” Coltart wrote on a Facebook page for cricket fans.
Zvimba however said as players they welcome the changes within the coaching department where Stephen Mangongo will be the substantive national team head coach, with Brendan Taylor and Elton Chigumbura splitting the captaincy.
In other cricket forums, supporters shared their reservations on Chingoka’s retirement, with James Kaseke comparing the move to securing the stable door when the horse has already bolted.
“I think Chingoka saw that he had squeezed as much as he could and he stood no more personal gain. We have stood still for over a decade and I seriously doubt we can ever recover,” he said.
Lwandle Ndebele told SW Radio Africa if the new administration is serious about restoring Zim cricket to its former glory, they will have to make sweeping but real changes.
“The players should be placed at the centre of the sport both in terms of looking after their welfare and giving them a chance to lead. We also need a system where politics has no role in the administration of sports because that is what has killed cricket, rugby and football in Zimbabwe,” Ndebele added.