Chingoka earns high praise in World cricket

Interviewed last week, Chingoka described relations between the boards as ”fantastic” and seemed to regard various CA chairmen as bosom pals. CA ought to ponder upon his motives and pray quietly for his removal. Chingoka is a consummate political operator but he belongs with the vipers.

At least the Australian Government knows the score. To his immense chagrin, Chingoka is banned from travelling to this country.

Chingoka and his fellow travellers Ozias Bvute and Givemore Makoni, who has trashed buses on tour and shouted insults at Australian players, are anxious to present Zimbabwean cricket in a better light because the country itself has changed. To that end, they have appointed former players as coaches and selectors. It has not been an overnight conversion.

They fear the scrutiny of an astute, fearless and cricketing minister of sport taken from the main opposition party. For now, David Coltart has his hands full with education, his main portfolio. It’s not easy to pay teachers when all the money has been stolen by the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) elite. Eventually, he will examine the cricket board, and then will come the day of reckoning. Then Cricket South Africa might regret its rush to renew close relations with the unapologetic representatives of a foul regime.

Chingoka has the gall to describe himself as merely a ”cricketing man”, an innocent put among thieves. But he has close and unbroken ties with the ruling Zanu-Patriotic Front, has carried out its bitter agenda and could not otherwise have prospered half as well. In any case, it has become as impossible to be a good man in Zanu-PF as it was with the Nazis in 1941. Since 2000, Zanu has unleashed state-sanctioned terror on a grand scale.

I have met terrified former soldiers who sobbed as they told tales of enforced rape, torture and killings. I know victims who’ve had terrible, terrible things done to them. Meanwhile, the young and poor, denied medicine, living on scraps, die in droves. Zanu has blood on its hands, and Chingoka is their man.

Chingoka is a chameleon. He has sat alongside politicians and held his tongue as they spewed poisonous bilge to International Cricket Council officials and local MPs, impressed Indians with his post-colonial credentials, talked fondly about the game with cricketers, convinced Westerners that he was a decent man serving the game in twisted times, told businessmen about his numerous overseas properties and huge investments, and discussed the merits of his beloved Black Label with whisky drinkers. It has been quite a performance.

Throughout, he has been able to depend on the protection of the richest and most powerful faction in Zanu-PF. Admittedly Zimbabwe Cricket has taken steps to change its hard-line reputation. Not least to justify the millions of dollars put in its coffers every year, Zimbabwe has held out olive branches to previously hostile former players. Alastair Campbell has been appointed chief selector; Andy Waller and David Houghton are also assisting.

Unsurprisingly though, numerous men of calibre, black and white, will not return to ZC until the regime has changed. Until that happens, Zimbabwe ought to remain a pariah. Of late it has played a five-match ODI series in Bangladesh (losing 4-1) and is now playing another series with South Africa, a country finally losing patience with its corrupt and ruthlessly ruled neighbour. The ICC did not need much persuasion to welcome ZC back into the fold. It likes to pick and choose its tyrannies.

Recently the game’s governing body sent a small group headed by Sir Julian Hunte, president of the West Indies Cricket Board, to report on ZC’s progress. Inevitably, he assumed cricket could be isolated from the evil. ZC has not changed in any significant degree. Nor has its political master.

So far, CA’s assistance has been limited to inviting young cricketers to its Centre of Excellence and allowing Walter Chawaguta, Zimbabwe’s enthusiastic but inexperienced coach, to join the team in Saudi Arabia. Anything further will bring opprobrium on Australia’s head.