THE row between Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) and Metbank over a $15 million loan to the sporting organisation is threatening the very existence of the game in this country and must be dealt with expeditiously.
The bank’s involvement in the running of cricket cannot be healthy and clearly points to a serious conflict of interest which in the end affects in a very bad way the people that make the game what it is — the players.
Afghanistan’s visit to Zimbabwe scheduled for the end of this month has been called off not because the tourists couldn’t fund their trip, but because the hosts, Zimbabwe, cannot raise a team.
Zimbabwe’s domestic cricket season is in limbo because the players are on strike as ZC cannot pay them.
ZC has no clue as to when it will get the money to fulfil its obligations yet it has set January 18 as the restart of the games.
It is understood ZC has asked the International Cricket Council (ICC)for $3 million in addition to the funds they received from the Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme earlier last year.
The international body can easily release that money, but there are issues of compliance with corporate governance and audits that have to be dealt with before that can happen.
What is stopping ZC from conducting that audit immediately?
It seems the fact that the involvement of the leadership of ZC in Metbank could also be a contributing factor.
The cricket body owes Metbank and the bank, in order to meet its obligations to its customers, needs its money back.
The involvement of the bank’s leadership in cricket further complicates issues in terms of funding in that any money that comes from ICC, or any other donor for that matter, is paid through the bank, which demands its dues before the money reaches ZC, meaning the cricket administrators are always in the red.
It’s an unfortunate situation which could have been avoided had there been clear separation of powers between the two entities. As things stand, all the grants will be go towards debt payment much to the detriment of the game.
ZC is set to receive funding from the World Twenty20.
A tri-series involving Australia and South Africa is also being mooted which could be a major source of revenue for ZC this year in addition to about $25 million for the 2015 World Cup.
We hope these funds will be well administered for the benefit of the game and its future.
No one wants to see cricket die; we want to see all those sponsors of yesteryear — which include Old Mutual, Econet, Bata, Delta and Stanbic Bank — back and branding the game and its growth.