Sport

ANALYSIS

Terminating SA cricket boss Thabang Moroe’s contract is not the end of a torrid saga

Terminating SA cricket boss Thabang Moroe’s contract is not the end of a torrid saga
Suspended Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)

The battle over Moroe’s future is one of the issues plaguing Cricket SA, but by no means the only one, or even the most serious.

After nine months in limbo, suspended Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Thabang Moroe is set to be sacked on Thursday, although it would be far from the end of the saga. 

From the day Moroe was suspended last December for various acts of mismanagement, the clock has counted down to his sacking or reinstatement. The latter course was always unlikely after CSA and Moroe failed to have an internal disciplinary hearing. 

The fact that the CSA board, mostly complicit in a wide range of poor decisions under Moroe, decided to instigate an independent forensic audit into the state of the organisation, indicated there was never likely to be a reconciliation. 

By asking an outside consultancy to audit everything from their finances to key decisions, CSA was effectively accumulating evidence against Moroe for an eventual dismissal rather than looking for ways to keep him on board. 

He was sent a letter last week confirming CSA’s intentions to end his contract through a “termination of cause” clause, although the exact reasons for the termination are not public at this point. A charge sheet has also been drawn up and Moroe has been invited to answer it at CSA’s offices on Thursday. 

CSA would have to give compelling reasons for termination, although Moroe publicly admitted to revoking the accreditation of five journalists from Mzansi Super League matches last December. That in itself could be cause for dismissal. 

Moroe will no doubt fight his contract termination, which could still be stopped by an urgent court application. But dragging this out might be the precise intent of the CSA board. By terminating the contract, they no longer have to pay Moroe’s monthly salary of R356,000. He will have to fight his case at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) or through the Labour Court. 

It’s also possible that the board could now hide behind the dreaded “sub judice” defence when it comes to releasing the forensic audit, as it is central to Moroe’s dismissal. Although “sub judice” does not apply in South African law as the country doesn’t have a jury system, it’s a clause many hide behind. A statement is prohibited, according to our courts, only if there is a “real risk” that it would cause “demonstrable and substantial” prejudice to the administration of justice. The forensic report into the state of cricket is quite the opposite. Its findings are vital to the administration of justice for both Moroe and CSA. 

The inevitable outcome of the forensic audit appears to be that it has, unsurprisingly, implicated the board in several areas. What other conclusion can be drawn from the fact that nearly seven weeks after CSA president Chris Nenzani told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sport that the draft audit report was due on “30 June”, it still has not emerged? 

Moroe’s lawyers have indicated they would want the audit to be made public, the South African Cricketers Association (Saca) has asked for the full findings to be revealed and as far as this writer knows, only one board member – Northerns’ Tebogo Seko – has asked for its findings to be released in full to provincial affiliates. 

Even the CSA director of cricket, Graeme Smith, expressed his desire to see the full report made public. 

Acting CEO Jacques Faul is set to leave his post on 15 September, providing yet another leadership vacuum just days after the organisation’s annual general meeting where Nenzani’s tenure will end and a new president is elected. 

“Everywhere I go, that’s all I’m asked about, whether it’s players, the media, or just people in the street – they all want to know where these reports are. That uncertainty is not good,” Smith told a media gathering 11 days ago. 

A version of the forensic report will eventually have to be released into the public domain. The full version though, is what is crucially needed to ensure that the board is held to account for CSA’s tenuous condition as much as Moroe. 

The battle over Moroe’s future is one of the issues plaguing CSA, but it is by no means the only, or even the most serious. 

“Project 654”, the organisation’s attempt to address its own projected R654-million shortfall by 2022 should be the most important item on the agenda. The board, including chairman and CSA president Nenzani, but minus four members who resigned last December, are equally culpable for the organisation’s weak state. 

In the wake of the suspension of the journalists in 2019, lead sponsor Standard Bank said it would not renew its R80-million a year contract with CSA. Long-time sponsor Sunfoil, under the banner of the Willowton Group, also ended its association with CSA and One-Day-International sponsor Momentum also called for the resignation of the board. 

Sources have also indicated to Daily Maverick that SuperSport is no longer willing to pay to broadcast local cricket, which would be another financial blow. 

There is still an ongoing employment dispute with former chief operations officer (COO) Nassei Appiah that is heading to the Labour Court. Former sponsorship manager Clive Eksteen’s attempts at conciliation through the CCMA after being dismissed have failed. That process is heading to arbitration now. 

Acting CEO Jacques Faul is set to leave his post on 15 September, providing yet another leadership vacuum just days after the organisation’s annual general meeting where Nenzani’s tenure will end and a new president is elected. 

Cricket is in a sorry state and although the termination of Moroe’s contract initially appears like a massive step forward, it might just be the end of the first innings. The second innings might be tougher, and played out on a weathering pitch. DM

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