Sport

CRICKET CRISIS

Moroe gone, but CSA is far from functional

Moroe gone, but CSA is far from functional
Thabang Moroe, fired CEO of Cricket South Africa. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)

A culture camp for leading players in the Kruger Park last week was hailed as a success by the beleaguered Cricket South Africa press office, although the organisation has missed an opportunity for some other, equally pressing positive change.

An edited version of this article was first published in DM168

What CSA urgently needs is a corporate culture camp for its hierarchy. While the players wrestled with issues of social justice and team harmony, metaphorically, the palace continued to burn. 

CSA is riddled with self-serving bureaucrats whose main agenda is jostling for space at the rapidly emptying feeding trough that holds CSA’s dwindling riches. Money, reputation, stakeholder confidence and players’ support, which were abundant at one stage, have all but gone. The trough is nearly bare, and a multitude of looming crises are unresolved.

At this stage, the scheduled 5 September Annual General Meeting (AGM) where many key positions will be finalised, is set to go ahead. How it can though, is a mystery.

This week CSA received letters from various sectors and stakeholders calling for suspension of the AGM and the board in the wake of a leadership collapse.

“We are of the strong view that the current members of the Members Council (MC) who will qualify to become Members of the newly elected Board need serious assistance to take Cricket South Africa out of the hole it finds itself in,” a letter signed by eight former Border Cricket officials, including Ray Mali, stated.

“We, therefore, call on the leadership of CSA including the Members Council to stop any election from taking place on 5 September and that an Administrator and acting CEO be put in place.”

In the past fortnight CSA president Chris Nenzani, acting CEO Jacques Faul and board member Steve Cornelius resigned. That comes in the wake of the nine-month disciplinary saga involving suspended CEO Thabang Moroe. He was eventually sacked on Thursday based on findings contained in an independent forensic audit into the state of CSA’s corporate governance.

That document appears to be the smoking gun that will expose many of CSA’s leadership ills. It’s also the reason it is being so closely guarded and why the leadership wants to keep it away from prying eyes.

But after weeks of dithering and obfuscating about its whereabouts, patience with CSA’s remaining board is wearing thin at various levels, including Parliament.

The reality is that no election should and could go ahead without details of the report being circulated to CSA members. At the very least it’s a roadmap for the next board to follow. And at worst, it contains critical information about the people expected to lead CSA into one of the most crucial periods in its history. 

But within days of Nenzani and Faul’s departures, nomination lists went out for the AGM anyway. The last remaining board members pretend that it’s business as usual, as all around them the sport is in freefall. And it’s collapsing as a result of the board’s, and by extension, the Members Council’s incompetence.

Members Council demand forensic report

Last Monday the CSA Members Council, consisting of the 14 provincial union presidents, met with the aim of obtaining the forensic audit. But lawyers Alan Keep and Tholi Gcabashe from law firm Bowmans said it could not be released. They conceded that it was “a comprehensive report”, but felt “there is lots of work to be done in relation to the report. Part of that work requires further investigation before it is ready for action”.

Central Gauteng Lions president Anne Vilas sent a three-page letter to CSA calling for the entire CSA board to resign as a result of recent events. In it, she also raised questions about legal firm Bowman’s recommendation to keep the forensic audit away from the Members Council.

In a separate 12-page letter to Bowmans, Vilas challenges the legal firm’s position on withholding the forensic audit. Both are in Daily Maverick’s possession. 

“On 8 July 2020, I addressed a letter to the then President of CSA (Chris Nenzani) to enquire whether any draft forensic reports had been received and when it would be made available to the Members Council,” Vilas wrote.

“In a letter in response dated 8 July 2020, the then CSA President recorded that the Members Council was the “appointing authority” for the forensics report. He went on to record that: ‘The final report is the property of the Members Council and will be delivered to it as soon as it is concluded.’

“It is clear therefore that the expectation was created that the Members Council would receive the report. There was no suggestion in that letter by the then president that there were still others that needed to be interviewed by the forensic investigators.

“Bowmans’ reliance on clause 3.3 to justify the withholding of the report, is in CGL’s humble view, ill-conceived. Clause 3.3 reads: ‘The Members must act in the best interests of their respective constituencies and the mandate obtained.’

 “Bowmans assumes that the best interests of Central Gauteng Lions or any other Affiliate Member and the best interests of CSA are not aligned. To the contrary, each Affiliate Member is required to ensure that CSA is run according to good governance principles.

“If CSA continues to limp from crisis to crisis, this does not only impact upon the national team, but it also has an impact on Affiliate Members being able to secure sufficient sponsorship and in addition, direct funding from CSA to develop and transform cricket within their areas.

“We also cannot lose sight of the fact that an AGM is due to be held on 5 September 2020. Some of the current members of the CSA Board will be up for re-election and there will also be the important task of appointing the new President of CSA. 

“How can the MC be expected to make informed decisions in this regard, when the report is not available, and it is clearly relevant to how the organisation was run in the past and who was responsible for irregularities and deviation from sound governance principles?”

On Thursday, Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa issued CSA an ultimatum to produce the forensic audit by 31 August, knowing that its contents will be vital to any election process while the Democratic Alliance on Friday also called for the audit to be immediately handed over to the Sports Portfolio Committee.

To compound issues, CSA’s leadership vacuum will have international ramifications. Globally, negotiations for the next four-year international broadcast rights cycle have started. In a Covid-19 world, the financial pie has shrunk. It will take someone with nous and experience to deliver the best possible deal for South African cricket, especially as it faces a stated R654-million shortfall by 2022.

“We need certainty and consistency within CSA’s leadership as well as competent people in those positions,” SA Cricketers’ Association CEO Andrew Breetzke told the Maverick Sports Podcast. “When you have that, it gives confidence to sponsors, broadcasters and other stakeholders. 

“What you really need at ICC level negotiating the broadcast deal or bilateral tours, (which can be hugely important to revenue) is someone who can stand their ground. With all the leadership challenges at CSA, it has undermined that crucial element.” DM

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