Moroe suspended by Cricket South Africa board as lead sponsor quits
Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe was suspended on Friday, with full pay, by the organisation’s board on a day when leading sponsor Standard Bank ended its 18-year relationship with the sport.
Daily Maverick is in possession of a letter sent to CSA staff, explaining the board’s decision, which didn’t go as far as suspending president Chris Nenzani. There was no official reference to Nenzani in the letter, though many believe that he is not blameless.
“The Board of Directors of Cricket South Africa has taken a decision to put the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Thabang Moroe, on precautionary suspension with pay, effective 6 December 2019, on allegations of misconduct, pending further investigations,” the letter read.
“The decision to place Mr Moroe on precautionary suspension follows from the reports received by the Social and Ethics Committee and the Audit and Risk Committee of the Board related to possible failure of controls in the organisation.
“During the course of Mr Moroe’s precautionary suspension, a forensic audit of critical aspects of the business and the conduct of management related to such aspects shall be conducted by an independent forensic team. In this regard, we urge all our stakeholder including sponsors, members of staff, players, volunteers and cricket fans to allow this process to unfold and we will provide updates on this matter.
“In the interim, the Board of Directors has mandated the Chairman to look at various options including holding discussions with Mr Dave Richardson, the former Chief Executive Officer of the International Cricket Council (ICC), regarding the appointment of an acting chief executive officer for the duration of Mr Moroe’s precautionary suspension.”
The lead up to the suspension comes at the end of a tumultuous week that exposed the deep level of capture Cricket South Africa has suffered in the Moroe/Nenzani era, which is barely 20 months old.
The pair, with Moroe the public face of their duel despotic running of cricket, made the crucial mistake of revoking the accreditation of five journalists who have been critical of their term.
A blatant attack on media freedom exposed the CSAs leaders for the despots they are and laid bare how ineffective the board had been in controlling the situation.
The irony of Moroe’s suspension, which is probably too late to save CSA from a dire financial outlook in the coming years after an era of largesse and mismanagement (CSA has publicly projected a R654-million loss over the next four years), is that it was handed down by a complicit CSA board. It was the board that appointed Moroe and the same body that turned a blind eye to his dealings.
Moroe tried to brush off the banning of journalists Firdose Moonda (Cricinfo), Telford Vice (Cricbuzz), Neil Manthorp (SABC), Stuart Hess (Independent Group) and Ken Borland (Citizen) as a “mishap”.
But that was only after Standard Bank and the South African Editors’ Forum (Sanef) demanded explanations and an apology. Moroe miscalculated the far-reaching damage his attempt at strong-arming the media would have.
It began a chain of events that Moroe quickly lost control over.
On Tuesday board member Professor Shirley Zinn resigned after the accreditation debacle. On Wednesday night Head of the CSA finance committee Iqbal Khan resigned from the board with immediate effect, citing poor corporate governance by Moroe.
At a special sitting of the Gauteng Cricket Board on Thursday night, the organisation called on the CSA board and CEO to resign. The Gauteng Board’s decision was supported by the boards of the Western Province, Eastern Province, Northern Cape, North West, KZN and South Western Districts.
On Thursday morning Pietermaritzburg-based Willowton group, which manufactures Sunfoil cooking oil and is a long-standing CSA sponsor, called for the board to resign.
Moroe’s complete breakdown with the South African Cricketers’ Association (Saca) was another huge issue in his authoritarian tenure.
Saca challenged Moroe over a unilateral decision to change the structure of South Africa’s domestic cricket system. Moroe’s decision to put the Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) into administration only for CSA to lose an arbitration battle with costs was another example of the free rein he was allowed.
Cricket in South Africa is on its knees both financially and operationally after Moroe and Nenzani captured the sport and used it as their own personal fiefdom for the last two years. Saca is the only body that has fought against the CSA hierarchy, fulfilling the role the board should have played.
Standard Bank Group chief marketing and communications officer Thulani Sibeko implied they were stepping away because of CSA’s mis-management. On Monday they called an urgent meeting with the organisation following the accreditation debacle.
“Standard Bank is committed to upholding the highest levels of leadership‚ integrity and governance,” Sibeko said.
“In light of recent developments at CSA‚ which are a culmination of long-standing problems which have damaged Standard Bank’s reputation‚ it has decided not to renew its partnership with CSA.
“The bank sponsored the Proteas and CSA development programme through the regional performance centres for a number of years and said they are immensely proud of the milestones they reached.
“We wish the national cricket team well in the years ahead. The Test‚ ODI and T20 teams have made South Africans immensely proud over the years and we are grateful to have been a part of their journey.
“Standard Bank considers it appropriate and fair to give CSA adequate notice so that it may explore alternative sponsorships to replace Standard Bank.”
On Friday Saca called for the resignation of the entire board as well as Moroe while also adding its voice to a call for a full forensic audit of the organisation.
After threatening industrial action for the upcoming England series earlier this week, Saca changed its position on Friday, assuring fans that the best players would be available for selection.
“Saca reiterates that industrial action by the players should be viewed only as a very last resort,” said Saca CEO Tony Irish.
“We also wish to reassure cricket fans, and other cricket stakeholders, that Saca will not embark on industrial action with the players during the upcoming England series. We are very aware of the importance of this series to the Proteas and to England, to the many fans from both countries and to the media and commercial partners.”
Saca was also critical of the Proteas’ selection and coaching structures, which has seen the inexperienced Enoch Nkwe in charge of the team following the sacking of Ottis Gibson.
Saca called for a clear and transparent structure to be put in place around the Proteas involving experienced, credible and reputable cricket people.
“In the England series across three formats which starts in three weeks’ time, the Proteas will be facing one of the best teams in the world,” said Irish.
“We know that the players will give 110% for South Africa on the field but it is critical that a proper professional structure is in place around the team.
“The way in which CSA has dealt with this to date, and the fact that nothing is in place, is totally unacceptable. It is ludicrous to expect players to be selected by unknown selectors.” DM