Night of the long knives as ZRU board sack Sables coach, board later gets suspended by SRC

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Nyararai Sibanda

Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter

THE Nyararai Sibanda Zimbabwe Union Board has been suspended by the Sports and Recreation Commission pending an investigation into troubles which caused the union to fail to carry out its mandate.

In a letter sent to Sibanda on Tuesday, signed off by the SRC acting director general Joseph Muchechetere, the country’s supreme sports governing body said the ZRU board has been frozen out with immediate effect for a number of transgressions. This was after an SRC board meeting held on Monday to discuss problems bedeviling rugby in the country.

“I write on behalf of the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) Board to inform you that at its business meeting convened on 7 August 2017, the President and the Board of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union were suspended with immediate effect. Note that this decision excludes the Chief Executive Officer who is also the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union,’’ reads part of the letter.

Among some of the reasons which led to the suspension of the ZRU board, the SRC states that it was the continued deterioration of the of the state of administration of the game as shown by the poor results of the matches played against Namibia, Kenya, Tunisia and Uganda.

Failure to secure clearance for the women national team which took on Botswana in the neighbouring country on 27 May and for the fixture against Zambia at home in June was another of the misdemeanours by the suspended ZRU board.

Cyprian Mandenge

A huge embarrassment in June which saw ZRU fall short in hosting the Zambian men and women’s teams in Harare was another factor which contributed to the ZRU board getting suspended.

The SRC contends that the frozen out ZRU board had failed to operate as a unit with cracks being the order of the day which had a direct bearing on the performance of the management headed by the recently appointed CEO Blessing Chiutare and national teams.

SRC said when they observed indications of internal strife within the now suspended ZRU board, they tried to intervene together with the Ministry of Sport and Recreation in an effort to discourage the practice which however fell on deaf ears.

In conclusion, SRC indicated that they had given a chance to the Sibanda and his board to make a written submission, something they failed to do, despite numerous reminders through the ZRU CEO.

“The SRC Board also notes with concern that through a letter dated 1 August 2017, addressed to the President of the Union to a make a written presentation and was to be submitted by 4 August 2017, unfortunately up to the time of making this decision no submission had been made. This is despite numerous reminders and calls to your CEO. As such, your board lost the opportunity given to be heard,’’ said the SRC.

A directive was given in the letter that none of the suspended executive committee members shall be permitted to carry out any business on behalf of the ZRU during the time of suspension.

SRC corporate communications officer Tirivashe Nheweyembwa said depending on the inquiry being carried out, some members of the suspended ZRU board may or may not come back. He gave indications that an interim committee will soon be announced to run the affairs of the union which has to be given the thumbs up by the Minister of Sport and Recreation Makhosini Hlongwane.

“Very soon we will announce an interim committee that has to be approved by the Minister before it starts work,’’ he said.

Former ZRU president Themba Sibanda is heavily tipped to be the head of the interim executive that will assume the role of the suspended board.

On a dramatic day, ZRU announced that they had disbanded the Sables technical team led by Cyprian Mandenge and went on to advertise the post of Sables head coach. The letter of suspension of the ZRU board came shortly after the union had announced that they had dissolved the Sables technical team. Mandenge is certain to contest the decision to sack him on the basis that the ZRU board which made the decision had been suspended on the same day by the SRC.

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