One well-placed cricketing source told Daily Maverick on Thursday night, when news emerged that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) had told CSA it was stepping in:
“You know you’re in shit when Sascoc has to help you.”
It would be hilarious if it weren’t so serious. CSA is facing potential collapse because of a leadership crisis and the body asked to sort it out is itself in disarray.
But that is what is about to happen after Sascoc, which is the umbrella sporting body in the country, effectively declared it would take over the running of cricket under Section 13 the National Sports and Recreation Act.
At a board meeting on 8 September, Sascoc resolved to implement a series of measures aimed at making CSA functional again based on the following list of concerns:
CSA responded with a short release, indicating it would have a ‘workshop’ to discuss the issue: “CSA, including its Members’ Council, does not agree with the resolution taken by Sascoc and has not had the opportunity to engage with Sascoc on various issues raised in the communication.
“In addition, CSA is taking legal advice regarding the basis on which Sascoc has sought to intervene in the business affairs of CSA. CSA does, however, commit to engaging further with Sascoc to understand its position and to find common ground with it in the best interests of cricket.
“The Members’ Council and the Directors of the Board of CSA will hold a joint workshop this weekend to discuss critical matters.”
Sascoc to set up CSA task team
Sascoc issued orders that it would investigate months of disastrous decisions that culminated in the postponement of CSA’s 5 September annual general meeting (AGM) to elect new leadership. The irony is that Sascoc is months overdue on its own leadership election because of boardroom infighting.
Sascoc has also demanded that the remaining CSA board members cease running the game and go on gardening leave – on full pay – but cooperate with an investigation.
A letter, in Daily Maverick’s possession, signed by Sascoc acting president Aleck Skhosana and sent to CSA on 10 September, underlines the frustration:
“Sascoc hereby appoints a task team to conduct investigations into the administrative and/or financial affairs of Cricket South Africa.
“The task team, once identified and appointed and after conducting the initial investigations, is to report back within one month of its appointment to the Sascoc Board and Members Council of Cricket South Africa with its findings and recommend corrective measures to be implemented by CSA.
“And that in order to facilitate the work of the task team, the CSA board and senior executives who serve ex-officio on the board (the company secretary, the Acting CEO, the CFO and the COO) are directed to step aside from the administration of CSA on full pay but are required to assist the task team to the extent required by it, in the execution of its duties.
“That the task team collaborates with members of the CSA board and/or Members Council, to the extent necessary and required, to implement corrective measures in order to restore its good image and reputation pending the convening of an AGM and the holding of elections of a new board.
“That the costs associated with the appointment and work of the task team be borne by CSA.”
While the ability and frankly, suitability, of Sascoc to run this investigation is debatable, it is a massive blow for those remaining CSA board members who have clung desperately to power over months of scandal.
It’s a further blow to the Members Council, the ultimate decision-making body, which consists of the 14 affiliate presidents. The Members Council should have dissolved the board months ago, but failed to do so because seven of them are also on CSA’s board. There is a significant conflict of interest.
The Sascoc takeover is also a massive setback for company secretary Welsh Gwaza and lead independent director Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw. After the suspension and eventual firing of former CEO Thabang Moroe, based on the findings of a nine-month forensic investigation into the state of CSA, Gwaza and Kula-Ameyaw quickly worked themselves into positions of power.
It became so fraught that acting CEO Jacques Faul, who by all measurements had done a fine job in stabilising expenditure and stakeholder relations in the wake of Moroe’s suspension, eventually resigned in August.
In a revealing interview in a Sunday newspaper last weekend, Faul said the final straw was when Kula-Ameyaw unilaterally made a decision to take out an advert in a Sunday paper, costing CSA R521,000. When he asked the board to reprimand her, they fell silent.
“What Kula-Ameyaw clearly doesn’t realise is that CSA is suffering a R400-million loss on a four-year budget cycle. Who pays R521,000 for something like that? It doesn’t make sense,” Faul said in the interview.
“I realised she could do just what she wants. You are only as strong because the other people are weak, right? The board should’ve gotten rid of her. An independent director doesn’t have the power to buy an advertisement worth R521,000.”
CSA has not refuted Faul’s claim – which was noted by Skhosana in his letter:
“Since his (Faul’s) resignation, he has made the most damning allegations about the CSA Board, and its activities. To date, these allegations have not been refuted by you (Members Council) or the CSA Board,” Skhosana wrote.
The details contained in the forensic audit are still unclear. Both Sascoc and Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa have for weeks called for the full forensic audit to be presented to them and they have been met with resistance.
“Sascoc has attempted to address these issues in two meetings with the CSA board: one was exploratory and the other failed to take place mainly because of the fact that CSA failed to make the… forensic report available to the Sascoc board despite promises and undertakings by CSA to do so,” the letter stated.
“CSA is in receipt of our letter which records that the board’s decision to make the said report available only on a limited basis to the president and board members of Sascoc, is wholly unreasonable and irrational given the apparent nature and scope of the report.”
With Sascoc stepping in to administer CSA, it seems South Africa might also fall foul of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) strict membership policies.
Clause 2.4 (D) of the ICC Constitution states: “The Member must manage its affairs autonomously and ensure that there is no government (or other public or quasi-public body) interference in its governance, regulation and/or administration of Cricket in its Cricket Playing Country (including in operational matters, in the selection and management of teams, and in the appointment of coaches or support personnel).”
Sascoc, technically, is not an organ of the government, but that could be viewed as semantics. In Sascoc’s list of concerns listed above, one point is revealing:
“The directive by the Minister of Sport and Recreation for Sascoc to intervene into the affairs of CSA.” It’s clear that while the government has not stepped in to run CSA itself, it has sent Sascoc to do the work.
How the ICC views this move is crucial. The last thing CSA needs, on top of all its other governance issues, is suspension from the ICC. DM
The ancient Romans considered trousers to be effeminate.