For the past few weeks I have been closely following what has been happening in the local cricket world where insults and accusations are flying from one end to the other.
Final Whistle with Brian Nkiwane
The war of words that is spreading like a veld fire, moving from print media to social network sites was mainly centred on the Minister of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture David Coltart and Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) convener of selectors Givemore Makoni.
The debate which later turned nasty and political ensued after the ministry had released a directive that all selectors in all sports associations should have played for Zimbabwe at the highest level.
Makoni who did not play for Zimbabwe at any level, then publicly accused Coltart of racism.
He argued there was a very small pool of former black players to choose from, and hence the directive would ultimately see the selection panel staffed by whites.
ZC then took a stance that it would not be implementing Coltart’s directive, judging it to be illegal.
But realising the damage the row is causing to cricket, I think there is need for the parties involved and other stakeholders to convene and tackle racism allegations before it is too late.
From my point of view, the minister had a valid point but the timing of the changes was wrong.
Alleging racism in this case was wrong too.
The trend the world over is that most people become managers, coaches or administrators upon retirement from playing.
This is what the minister is advocating for in his amendments.
Indeed we need experts in the field who have tested the waters at the highest level to do the job, as they have the knowledge and experience. It’s good for the sport at large and the country too.
However, the ministry failed to consider other factors when it came up with the directive.
We have associations that are being run by volunteers who are not getting any financial rewards from the work that they do.
These people use their own resources to make things move forward, for example Tennis Zimbabwe is run by volunteers.
Surely it is difficult to get experts in this sport who would want to work for charity.
The other thing is that there was an attempt to implement all these changes without proper communication and consultations.
Yes, it is prudent to give the mandate of selection to former players but the minister was supposed to be flexible, given the history of discrimination in the sport.
Granted, at one point he had to amend the recommendations to accommodate a number of people in this puzzle, but the other parties were still disgruntled.
The ministry should first have done their part by understanding the operations of ZC in this particular case.
If they had done so, they would have realised that the selectors that we are talking about had already signed contracts before the amendments were announced.
So what it meant was that ZC would have to cancel all the contracts of those that they had signed up. That would mean the association was going to lose more in paying compensation and again salaries for the new staff that they were going to engage, thereby bleeding their coffers.
ZC does not have resources that will see the just contracted selectors being compensated, and those replacing them being accommodated.
I think there was need to maintain the status quo and then implement whatever new rules after the expiry of the contracts of the newly appointed persons to avoid such conflicts.
The changes are the only way to go if we are to improve our cricket. We used to be competitive as a sporting country, let those capable of taking us back there do the job.
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