The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Cricket have taken giant strides towards being debt free after they repaid the US$3 million loan to the International Cricket Council (ICC) as well as the $10 million loans which were housed under the Zimbabwe Asset Management Company (Zamco).
The confirmation that ZC paid the ICC loan came through last month while the Zamco obligations were settled in December 2019. Under the plan which was in place, ZC were meant to clear the loans at the end of 2023, which means by paying them off now, they are way ahead of schedule.
From a debt of $27 million in 2015, ZC have significantly reduced their obligations down to $1 million. The ZC board during their virtual meeting held last Sunday adopted the financials which now await to be rubber stamped at the cricket governing body’s annual general meeting to be held at the end of June.
ZC chairman, Tavengwa Mukuhlani confirmed that they had paid what they owed the ICC as well as local banks. ZC are now left with what Mukuhlani described as legacy creditors, with the process of verifying those debts being carried out by Pricewaterhouse Coopers. It is envisaged that the arrears will be cleared off by the third quarter of this year.
“We have paid all our local loans, we owed Metbank, NMB, Ecobank and CBZ. In 2017 we consolidated those loans and warehoused them under Zamco, the idea was that we pay them off in 2023 but we have paid them all now, those loans are no longer in our books. We were supposed to pay the ICC loan by 2023 which had a balance of US$3 million, we have also cleared that,’’ Mukuhlani said.
He expressed his appreciation to the ICC, Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation as well as the Sports and Recreation Commission for the role they played in coming up with strategies to diminish the ZC debt.
“As ZC we are grateful to all the support that we have received from ICC, Ministry of Sport, SRC, ICC member countries and the stakeholders at large. Of course, the board has put cricket ahead of everything to make sure that we are doing things that would take cricket forward. We are also grateful to our staff and players, they have taken salary cuts, we have had to lay off people for us to be where we are at the moment,’’ said Mukuhlani.
Now that ZC have cleared the bulk of their debts, Mukuhlani declared that they are focusing on ensuring there are proper structures for club cricket, first class and a national academy.
“The elephant in the room was the loans, the money that we were getting from ICC was split between the game, the loans and salaries and now we have cleared this which means we are reinvesting into the game. We are now refocusing ZC to look into the game of cricket that we have proper club cricket, proper first-class cricket for men and women, we have the national academy.”
On the measures that have been put in place to ensure that ZC does not slide back into debt, Mukuhlani indicated that under his leadership, the local cricket governing body has only taken one overdraft. ZC have also reduced their staff complement and salaries have also been reduced from 2015, with the latest reduction in pay coming early this year.
“If you look at the journey that we have walked from 2015, Zimbabwe Cricket took an overdraft once in the past six years. ZC has operated within the same amount of funds from 2015 to date, we have said there should be no budget overruns, ZC has trimmed its staff to levels that must be there. ZC grew like it was on steroids in terms of staff. The appetite to pay huge salaries was unimaginable, we have addressed all that. We must not take unnecessary loans from banking institutions as well as from the ICC,’’ he said.
Before clearing the loans, ZC were technically insolvent which means by paying off the bulk of what they owed, they are now on sound footing. – @Mdawini_29