Cricket South Africa must review its ties with Zimbabwe

January 2nd, 2009 - 6:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Jan 2 (IANS) If sporting boycotts were valid in the apartheid years, Cricket South Africa (CSA) needs to review its relationship with the spiteful crooks running Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC), feels Australian columnist Peter Roebuck.The former Somerset captain says that despite cutting all ties with ZC in June, CSA is not doing enough to stem the rot in its neighbouring country.

“Some of the leading lights at CSA stood firm against apartheid and now must reject the tyranny of Zanu-Pf (Zimbabwe’s ruling party). In both cases the common man was crushed by a ruthless elite,” Roebuck wrote in his column in The Age.

“Over the years CSA has backed the Zimbabwean rulers to the hilt. Black Africa has produced some of the greatest leaders the world has known but cricket fell into the hands of lesser men,” he added.

Robeuck blamed the late Percy Sonn, former president of CSA and International Cricket Council (ICC), for the rot in ZC.

“Percy Sonn started the rot by blithely backing Zanu and ZC in the face of mounting evidence of their greed. Nobody is so blind as the zealot. Sent as an observer, Sonn declared legitimate an election every sane person knew had been rigged and, in his cricketing capacity, supported ZC’s senior officers, Peter Chingoka (president) and Ozias Bvute (chief executive), wealthy thugs whose fondness for whisky matched his own,” he said.

Roebuck called the trinity of Sonn, Chingoka and Bvute as the Black Label Brotherhood.

“Nor did Sonn spare his own country, once intervening to demand the inclusion of Justin Ontong and the omission of Jacques Rudolph, thereby scoring a political point and harming the careers of two promising players,” he said.

Roebuck went on to add that Sonn’s successor Ray Mali as the ICC president also continued the same love affair with ZC.

“Mali forged a friendship with the ZC elders, paid them a visit, drank their grog, took the guided tour and returned to say that Zimbabwe was well on its way to taking first place in the ODI rankings. It was a betrayal of underpaid and intimidated black cricketers and honest officials. Presumably he fell for the spiel about ZC trying to make the best of a bad job. And so he ignored the suffering and sided with the tyrant,” he said.

But it was another former CSA president Norman Arendse, a well connected lawyer, whose firm had done a lot of work for ZC, against expectations led CSA away from ZC.

“Under Arendse, CSA stopped inviting Zimbabwean teams to play in its domestic competitions. Previously it had allowed Zimbabwean squads to attend its high performance centre in Pretoria and arranged A-team tours,” said Roebuck.

Under Arendse, CSA snapped all its ties with ZC in June in light of the worsening political situation in Zimbabwe, after having backed them against heavy odds. Following in the footsteps of South Africa, England also cut its ties with Zimbabwe while Australian government added Chingoka and Bvute to its banned list.

Roebuck questioned where had the tens of millions provided by the ICC to ZC gone?

“Chingoka invested millions, built a house in Cape Town and kept his family in London. Bvute spent most of his time in New York and bought a house in the richest suburb in Harare, not far from the 47-bedroom house recently built by the governor of the country’s reserve bank,” said Roebuck.

After a clash with CSA chief executive Gerald Majola, Arendse put in his papers and was replaced by Mtutuzeli Nyoka.

Roebuck feels that Nyoka is capable of taking a strong steps against Zimbabwe but surprised everyone by sending an olive branch to Chingoka.

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