Sport

THIS IS NOT CRICKET

CSA sacks Moroe, but leadership saga is far from over

Axed Cricket South Africa CEO Thabang Moroe. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
By Craig Ray
27 Aug 2020 0

After nine months of suspension, Cricket South Africa (CSA) has finally terminated CEO Thabang Moroe’s employment, based on the findings in an independent forensic audit.

In a short statement on Thursday afternoon, CSA finally delivered the news that had been expected for some time – chief executive officer Thabang Moroe has been jettisoned after his crucial role in some of the worst corporate governance issues in CSA history. The termination is with immediate effect. 

The state of capture in SA cricket

“Cricket South Africa’s decision was based on expert external legal opinion supported by the findings emanating from an independent forensic investigation,” a statement said. “The independent forensic investigation revealed that Mr Thabang Moroe had committed acts of serious misconduct which warranted the sanction of dismissal. 

“Mr Moroe was offered sufficient opportunity to provide representations to the independent forensic auditors and to the Board regarding the allegations of misconduct, which opportunity he failed and/or refused to utilise. 

“Ms Kugandrie Govender will continue in the acting chief executive officer role until such time as Cricket South Africa recruits a chief executive officer.” 

Although there is now apparent finality in the Moroe saga, it could just be the beginning of the next stage of the melodrama. The full contents of the forensic audit are still unknown to all, bar a few board suits and Members Council delegates. 

Moroe’s lawyer Michael Motsoeneng Bill confirmed to Daily Maverick in a WhatsApp message on Thursday that in their opinion Moroe’s termination was unlawful. 

“The termination happened in our absence – we have been in court (virtually) since the morning and can’t be in two places at the same time,” Bill said. “No one from our side was at the CSA hearing.” 

When asked whether they were challenging the dismissal because procedure was not followed rather than challenging the reasons for Moroe’s termination, Bill stated: “It’s interlinked.” 

CSA’s release clearly indicated that Moroe was afforded plenty of opportunities to present his side of the case and apparently chose not to. That position was also stated in a report to the Sports Portfolio Committee on 20 June

Suspended CSA CEO set to know his fate in the coming days

Last week acting CSA president Beresford Williams asked that CSA be excused from a scheduled meeting with the Sports Portfolio Committee, which was a follow-up to the 20 June appearance. It was set to be another grilling about the state of the sport. In a letter to that committee, Williams said that the forensic report had yet to reach the Members Council. He claimed it was still with CSA’s Audit and Risk Committee, yet, a week later it seems things have moved much more rapidly. 

The exact details of Moroe’s “misconduct” are unclear at this stage, but what is abundantly obvious is that he could not have acted in isolation. Members of the board must, by design, have been aware of the issues and been party to them. CEOs are powerful, but they still have to answer to a board. They are not supposed to be above scrutiny. 

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Whether the board members were knowingly party to Moroe’s misconduct, or unaware of it, is immaterial. The board failed to provide the oversight expected and demanded and therefore they should all have resigned. 

Nine months since Moroe’s suspension, the dominoes have slowly fallen. Shirley Zinn and Iqbal Khan were the first two board members to resign in the immediate fallout that occurred when Moroe revoked the accreditation of five journalists critical of CSA. Jack Madiseng followed soon after. 

Shirley Zinn resigns over poor CSA corporate governance

More recently, president and board chairman Chris Nenzani jumped ship, just three weeks before CSA’s scheduled 5 September annual general meeting (AGM). Last week, the head of the ethics committee, Steve Cornelius, also resigned, leaving seven members of the board on Moroe’s watch still clinging on. 

Acting CEO Jacques Faul also resigned last week, although he was brought in to help clean up the mess left after Moroe’s tenure. Faul, after nearly nine months, resigned because he felt he couldn’t be effective under the direction of – what is becoming increasingly obvious – a dysfunctional board.

The forensic audit was commissioned to examine a host of issues. The audit began in March and investigated issues such as suspicious corporate credit card spending, breakdowns of controls within CSA’s own governance structures and whether the management and board adhered to a governance framework. 

Not the end of the saga 

Clearly, in Moroe’s case, he failed on some, if not all of these measurements, hence his dismissal. But regardless, it seems this one is heading to court and will drag on even longer. 

The question now is, what is there to be gained for Moroe by fighting his termination when it appears that the details contained in the forensic audit are severe enough to warrant a sacking? He appears to be challenging the process of his dismissal rather than the reasons for it, which suggests he is hoping for a payout. 

After receiving his full salary of R356,000 a month for the past nine months, a further payout would really add insult to injury for CSA. 

“We were one of the organisations calling for the entire board to stand down,” South African Cricketers’ Association (Saca) chief executive Andrew Breetzke told the Maverick Sports Podcast this week. 

“It’s almost impossible to say that the board wasn’t aware of what was going on. We had also brought a lot of these issues to various board members’ attention, which is why we made the call [for them to step down]. Standard Bank, the Willowton Group and Momentum all did the same, too. 

“Some resigned, but Nenzani stayed on as president [and board chairman] despite these calls. Now we get to three weeks before the AGM where he was going to stand down anyway.

“We believe Nenzani owes us all an explanation as to why he stood down now. I don’t believe he can keep the reasons for resigning to himself until after the AGM. 

“The reason for this is that it is important to understand what has happened at board level that we have a situation where the president deemed it necessary to resign. Obviously, there was a loss of faith between him and the board, but we need to know exactly what brought that about. 

“A day later, the acting CEO resigned and then a few days after that board member Steve Cornelius resigned. The only deduction that can be drawn, in the absence of their reasons, is that it’s absolute chaos and a dysfunctionality at board level that is worse than it was last December. 

“That’s problematic for any organisation, but in the scenario that CSA faces relative to its finances and projected losses, it’s even more concerning.” DM

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