Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has paid tribute to former Education, Sports and Culture Minister Aeneas Chigwedere who sadly passed away on Friday.
During his time as sports minister between 2001 and 2008, the game of cricket in the country was beset by a myriad of challenges including racial issues, player revolts and a battle for the control of ZC.
But Mr Chigwedere, a renowned historian and educationist who hated elitism and racism with a passion, helped ZC to navigate the tumultuous period and in the process saved not only the game but Zimbabwe itself from attracting sanctions from the International Cricket Council which could have included expulsion from the international cricket governing body.
As a way forward, he suggested the drawing up of a new constitution which would usher in a substantive board – including for the first time members with specialist skills – and a new democratic dispensation for the game.
He also recommended that cricket had to devolve to the country’s 10 administrative provinces to spread the game and bring it into line with other national sporting disciplines.
Indeed, Mr Chigwedere will forever be fondly remembered for the crucial role he played in helping to transform cricket from an elitist sport to a mass game enjoyed, played and run by all Zimbabweans regardless of their race, tribe, religion or social status.
In all this, he always insisted on the need to respect the independence of national sporting associations while maintaining cordial relations with the government and all relevant bodies.
Paying tribute to the late former minister, aged 81 at the time of his passing due to COVID-19 complications, ZC Chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said his death was a big loss to the nation.
“It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the passing of Minister Chigwedere, an unsung hero of our game,” Mukuhlani said.
“We will forever be grateful for his enormous contributions to cricket, especially his leadership and guidance during the turbulent times when racial tensions, player issues and power squabbles were threatening the continued existence of our game.
“On behalf of the ZC Board, management, players and staff, I would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the Chigwedere family and the entire nation on the loss of such a selfless, committed and dedicated servant of the people.”