The decision by Cricket South Africa to give non-independent directors the majority of board places flies in the face of the Nicholson Inquiry’s recommendations. And CSA’s failure to restructure its board makes its election of Border cricket administrator Chris Nenzani to the position of CSA chairman and president, appears to be a case of the usual suspects swiftly passing on a poisoned chalice, writes KEN BORLAND.
Bisho schoolteacher Chris Nenzani became South African cricket’s premier administrator at the weekend, promising a new era for the game as he was elected president and chairman of Cricket South Africa’s board of directors.
Nenzani was the winner of a two-horse race with Western Province’s Beresford Williams and was an optimistic man as he faced a media contingent not yet convinced that Cricket South Africa has really changed its ways.
“We have come from a very difficult period and if you had asked me a year ago if there was a crisis, I would have said ‘Yes’.”
“But we have now gone beyond those trying times and we are looking forward to a very promising future. We will be checking our governance structure to ensure we regain public confidence and we must remember that the role of the administration is to remain in the background while the players are at the forefront,” Nenzani, the president of the Border Cricket Board, said after his election at the Wanderers.
While Nenzani was a popular choice and is a likeable man who distanced himself from fired chief executive Gerald Majola early on in the bonus scandal, CSA’s annual general meeting was notable for the number of administrators who have somehow survived their disgraceful actions – and lack of action – while the game was being looted and embarrassed in this country.
Andy O’Connor, the Easterns president, was at the forefront of the pro-Majola lobby and quite vicious in his criticism of the media over the last couple of years, and yet his name is in the list of seven non-independent directors who will run cricket for the next year alongside five independent appointees.
Northerns president Vincent Sinovich, Free State’s Leon Crawley and North-West’s Archie Pretorius were in the minority in terms of CSA board members who insisted that Majola should face independent investigation and their reward has been to be cast into the relative wilderness.
Norman Arendse, the former president of CSA who then tried to do the jobs of the chief executive and convenor of selectors, is one of the independent directors, in accordance with the recommendation of the nominations’ committee, which just happened to be dominated by people from his home city, Cape Town.
The other independent directors are Wesizwe Platinum's Dawn Mokhobo, Constitutional Court trustee Vusi Pikoli, Absa's Louis von Zeuner and Old Mutual chief operating officer Mohamed Iqbal Khan, while the other CSA nominations are Nenzani, vice-president Peter Cyster of Boland, Graeme Sauls (EP), Faeez Jaffar (KZN) and Rihan Richards (GW).
The decision to give the non-independent directors the majority of board places flies in the face of the Nicholson recommendations, but CSA was given the easy way out through the interference of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee [Sascoc], which insisted that the game should be run by “sports people”.
Nenzani admitted that one of the first tasks of the new board would be to reassure the public that it is not lapsing into the bad old ways that forced Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula to institute the Nicholson Inquiry in the first place.
“I wouldn't say we have backtracked. My understanding is that our restructuring is not just about the composition of the board. As members of Sascoc, we are committed to continuing our engagement with them. We have to get the right balance between independent directors and those with cricketing knowledge,” Nenzani said.
Outgoing acting president Willie Basson described the situation as being “stranded” between Sascoc and the wishes of Mbalula and Judge Nicholson.
“CSA has engaged with the Nicholson process in good faith but in the end found itself stranded between powerful forces and seriously conflicting objectives. Being left stranded between the high aspirations of the Memorandum of Agreement with the minister and Sascoc's requirements was both uncomfortable and disappointing,” Basson said.
Unfortunately Nenzani sounded like the National Party politicians of old who claimed they willingly ushered the country into democracy when he defended the continued presence of Majola sympathisers on the board by saying: “These are the same people who have taken this process to where we are now, they took it upon themselves to undo what made the public uncomfortable.”
Ah, Mr Nenzani, the CSA board had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Nicholson Inquiry and it was only thanks to the perseverance of the sports minister and Basson, who the board tried to get rid of, that there has been any reform at all.
The fact that the AGM took place half-an-hour after the start of play on the second day of the Test shows that many of the administrators seemingly have little interest in the actual game. The gravy bowl is perhaps their prime focus and it seems the same old snouts are in it. DM
Photo: South Africa's captain Graeme Smith and his teammates wait for the presentations after South Africa defeated England in the third cricket test match at Lord's in London August 20, 2012. REUTERS/Philip Brown