Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Government of Zimbabwe has refuted claims by the International Cricket Council that there was political interference in the affairs of Zimbabwe Cricket that led to the immediate suspension of the country from ICC membership.
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry took to her official Twitter account to refute government interference when news of the suspension was announced on Thursday which also came with the freezing of funding for the domestic game.
Minister Coventry said she was devastated that the ruling has badly affected players.
“There has been no Government Interference @ ICC .I am devastated that the @ICC ruling has affected our @ZimCricketv players. There is need for good governance at ZC for the international success we all want to see. Any decisions towards that should never affect the players.
“Minister of Sport elects SRC board (ICC do not see this as Gvt interference). SRC is not Government – they are a Public Body,” wrote Minister Coventry on her Twitter handle.
All international matches involving the country’s national teams have been put on hold.
The global cricket governing body said the suspended ZC board, led by Tavengwa Mukuhlani, should be reinstated within the next three months or pending a review of their decision at another meeting in October.
The country’s women’s national cricket team, the Lady Chevrons, now face the possibility of failing to play in the final round of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup qualifiers next month in Scotland.
The Lady Chevrons won the qualifier at home in May this year after beating Namibia by 50 runs in the final.
The Chevrons’ participation in October’s Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier is also now hanging in the balance.
Mukuhlani and his board members were suspended by the Sports Commission for disregarding a directive to shelve their elective annual meeting in Victoria Falls on June 14 over electoral irregularities and accusations of alleged financial misappropriation.
However, after hearing submissions from Mukuhlani, who sat in the seat reserved for the ZC chairman at the ICC meeting in London, and members of the interim committee comprising acting chairman David Ellman-Brown and Retired Supreme Court Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, the ICC Board were unanimous in their decision to suspend Zimbabwe.
The global cricket governing body also cut off funding for Zimbabwe Cricket and ruled that the national cricket teams will not be allowed to participate in ICC sanctioned events.
The ICC yesterday said Zimbabwe were in breach of Article 2.4 (c) and (d) of the ICC Constitution and ordered the local authorities to reinstate the board that was suspended by the Sports Commission within the next three months pending review at the next board meeting set for October.
Sports Commission board chairman, Gerald Mlotshwa, said they were yet to receive official communication from the ICC.
‘‘The SRC and the Interim Committee is yet to be formally advised in writing of the ICC’s detailed reasons for its decision.
Once it is in receipt of the same, the SRC will activate the various emergency measures it had considered in the event of such a decision,’’ said Mlotshwa.
Questions however, have been raised on the sincerity of the ICC board to suspend Zimbabwe on the basis of ‘political interference’ while allowing the game to be led by a politician.
Suspended ZC board chairman Mukuhlani is a Member of Parliament.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe international cricketer Sikander Raza reacted with devastation at the suspension of the country which he said had rendered so many people unemployed while turning a team into literal strangers.
“How one decision has made a team, strangers.
How one decision has made so many people unemployed.
How one decision affect so many families. How one decision has ended so many careers. Certainly not how I wanted to say goodbye to international cricket,” Raza posted on his Twitter handle.