Past, present hero of Zimbabwe cricket

HARARE - The name Eliah Zvimba has been very dominant in local cricket circles starting towards the end of last year.

Zvimba, the secretary-general of the newly formed Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers Association (ZPCA), successfully negotiated a pact with Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to pay local cricketers their outstanding dues.

Since then, the lawyer has been at the centre of a raging battle with ZC over labour issues that continue to go on unabated to this day.

However, the 41-year-old Zvimba has had a long history with the game and can be attributed to be one of the local individuals, who helped establish women’s cricket in the country.

“I played indoor cricket between 1996 and 2001. First it was in Msasa Home Industries and later the Exhibition Park up to a time I was appointed general manager for this league,” Zvimba told the Daily News.

“We used to have mixed leagues at indoor and because of space and time we decided to go for field cricket and the response was great.

“We had girls and women who had passion for the game and I teamed up with girls from the high density suburbs who used to play with the boys such as Julie Chibhabha (former Zimbabwe ladies team captain), Sarah Weeden and Chipo Kamuchetsa just to mention a few.”

His vision was to see a flourishing women cricket league running across the country just like what it is right now but the powers that be allegedly hijacked the project.

“Zimbabwe Cricket decided to hijack the project when we had our first ever women tournament in Bulawayo,” recalls Zvimba.

“They side-lined us when we had funded the game from day one from our pockets and we felt powerless but to give them a chance.

“That was around 2000-2002, they (ZC) appointed a manager for ladies cricket who started running parallel structures and without consultations with us.

“We had drafted our constitution and in the process of registering the association but all our efforts went to waste.”

After taking a back seat from the project, Zvimba is shocked by the way ZC has neglected women’s cricket.

“I’m really saddened and they must do more,” said Zvimba. “Not just to group them for purposes of fulfilling fixtures but for budget purposes to get funding from ICC.

“The sport must be professionalised and spread to all corners of the country. Most importantly they must identify people with passion to go an extra mile and have the drive to empower the girl child.”

After years of cat and mouse over payment disputes with ZC, local cricketers invited potential representatives for the formation of ZPCA.

Zvimba was chosen the one and he has never disappointed the cricketers since he started representing their interests.

“I was invited to give a presentation on how I can assist the players as a representative together with other contestants and I was chosen,” he said.

“They (panel) considered issues and labour related cases I did and my cricket background came in handy too.

“I looked beyond forcing ZC to pay outstanding salaries and allowances but to secure long term deal that will see players living a meaningful life after cricket.”

But having crossed swords with ZC earlier over the women’s cricket, Zvimba does not see his role at ZPCA as an opportunity for getting back at the association.

“I have other pressing issues that involve running the Labour Law Centre as its principal director and Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers Association.

“I’m also pursuing Human Resources studies at Reformed Church University and I can give technical advice on how to revive the project and possible funding avenue to support the project. But I will probably adopt and sponsor a club in the near future,” he said.

“My personal relationship with ZC is strictly about business. Where we differ ideologically must not be construed as enmity.

“We will remain professional and I have met and mingled with almost everyone in cricket but there are lines drawn if we are in business.”

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