Chingoka to tackle racism

HARARE - Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) chairman Peter Chingoka has launched a drive to tackle the problem of racism in the local game after admitting the practice was prevalent in the country.

The long-serving ZC boss has moved quickly to address the issue by calling for a stakeholders’ conference to be held after the national side’s upcoming tour of West Indies.

In a major and welcome contribution to the on-going cricket row, Chingoka urged the cricket fraternity to shun racism and “create mutual understanding and deal with the demons that continue to haunt our sport.”

A well-respected administrator widely regarded as a stabilising factor in the perennially volatile local sport, Chingoka is perhaps the best-suited man to lead the drive, having been involved in the game for nearly four decades.

A rare black cricketer of his era, Chingoka has been involved in the game since childhood due to a privileged background – playing, working and interacting with different races in the sport, giving him an unpanelled understanding of structure and dynamics of the game as well as vast experience in race relations.

The on-going row between Sports minister David Coltart and ZC over a selection directive has opened a Pandora box, threatening to open up old wounds inflicted on the game by the damaging rebel saga back in 2004.

In an effort to prevent a repeat of the past, Chingoka last week circulated a notice for a stakeholders’ conference to board members, honourary life presidents, provincial chairpersons, national team players, franchise management, school heads as well as the ZC leadership.

In his memorandum, Chingoka highlighted some recent incidents of racism said to have taken place in the country’s senior and junior age-group teams.

 “There have been reports of black and white players using separate buses on senior team tours. At the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 Cricket World Cup held in Australia in August last year, white batsmen alleged that blacks were bowling short-pitched balls to them in the nets and counter allegations by black bowlers were that white fielders where reluctant to restrict runs from their deliveries,” Chingoka said.

 “Our domestic leagues have not been spared either, as there has been a marked increase in the number of disciplinary hearings initiated by allegations of racism. In view of the unfolding media debate and the unacceptable incidents referred to above, it would appear that there is still some progress to be made in addressing the imbalances of the past and re-integrating the sport to accommodate all Zimbabweans, regardless of colour, social background or gender.

 “Priority has been given to the national senior team that will travelling to West Indies next month and the conference is pencilled to take place upon their return.”

The 58-year-old experienced administrator said the Zimbabwean cricket fraternity should shun racism.

 “Cricket is a game for all and we have no reservations in saying that discrimination, where it is proved to exist, and whether brought about intentionally or as a result of other factors, should not be tolerated in any way or form,” he said.

 “To this end, we are proposing that the cricket community hold a stakeholders’ conference whose sole objective is to discuss and unpack the elements of our strained race relations with the objective of creating mutual understanding and dealing with the demons that continue to haunt our sport. Let us put a stop to innuendos, hidden agendas and politics of divisiveness, for if we all say that we are of the cricket family, then we must give cricket a fighting chance.” -  Austin Karonga and Enock Muchinjo

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