Daily Maverick 168

Cricket South Africa is incapable of saving itself if recent history is anything to go by

By Craig Ray 26 September 2020

Lungi Ngidi of South Africa reacts in disappointment after losing the game during the ICC Cricket World Cup match bettween South Africa and New Zealand at Edgbaston, Birmingham, England on 19 June 2019 (©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix)

South Africa’s sporting umbrella body, Sascoc, is on a major collision course with one of its biggest members, Cricket South Africa.

First published by Daily Maverick 168

Despite a relatively quiet week, by Cricket South Africa’s embarrassing standards of recent times, a host of problems have not disappeared as the leadership fights for survival. 

If Cricket South Africa’s board had applied as much effort into running the game along clear corporate governance guidelines as they have to clinging on to power, the sport wouldn’t be in the current state of upheaval it is in.

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) intends to set up a task team to investigate a host of issues plaguing CSA. Sascoc wants the operational CSA leadership to step aside while the probe runs its course.

CSA is not having it and has stated that it won’t accept the terms Sascoc has laid out, leaving South Africa’s sporting umbrella body on a major collision course with one of its biggest members.

It was inevitable, but CSA has taken legal cover as a reason why it won’t hand over an independently commissioned forensic report to Sascoc. That report, which covers four years of financial and operational management at CSA, has literally been put under lock and key.

Despite being commissioned by the Members Council, the board won’t allow anyone entitled to view it, to see it, unless they sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). A source confirmed to DM168 that it is a “massively restrictive NDA”.

The report was compiled by a company called Fundudzi. It is in the possession of CSA’s law firm, Bowmans. CSA, on the recommendation of Bowmans, has restricted access to the report to the Members’ Council (14 affiliate presidents) and the three independent directors on the board. Sascoc acting president Aleck Skhosana wants to see it and wants others on the proposed task team to view it as it will serve as a road map for their investigation. Skhosana refuses to sign an NDA to view it.

CSA has dug in and dismissed that notion, raising the suspicion that whatever is in its 470-odd pages must contain damaging evidence against some or all of the board.

“No reasonable person can effectively inquire into the affairs of CSA without having full access to the report, and without the assistance of legal and or forensic experts,” Skhosana said. “None of us have investigative and forensic expertise and legal expertise. These things must be done by outside people.”

The Members Council should make a decision about the forensic audit’s whereabouts, but that body is compromised because seven of the council are board members. There is a complete conflict of interest.

“Insofar as the provision of access to the forensic report is concerned, we, the Members’ Council, fully understand Sascoc’s frustration for not being provided unrestricted access to a copy of the forensic report,” said Members’ Council representative and non-executive board member John Mogodi.

“However, the distribution of the forensic report comes with major potential legal implications. We will therefore be having a separate discussion with Sascoc to resolve the issues pertaining to the report in the interim, by allowing Bowmans to present the summary of the findings to the relevant Sascoc officials.”

The word “major” in the statement is telling. It reveals that whatever is contained within those pages is explosive and damaging. Expecting CSA to resolve a mess it created with the structures that created it is fanciful.

The fact that Bowmans have written the summary is also problematic. It should have been written by Fundudzi. For all their faults and internal problems, Sascoc’s intervention through an independent task team is necessary if cricket’s stakeholders are to get close to the truth of what has been happening.

CSA postponed its annual general meeting this month because the findings of the forensic report could have a huge bearing on nominations for various positions of power. People implicated in wrongdoing, incompetence and possibly fraud should not be allowed to stand.

That information needs to be relayed down the chain of command for those who vote. The NDA won’t allow for that – a fact not lost on Skhosana. “We cannot be certain that there would have been proper consultation with the members of the respective unions,” Skosana said. “How are they expected to obtain a proper mandate from their boards when they are not permitted to share the contents of a report, which they commissioned, with their boards? That is why the refusal to make the report available on an unrestricted basis is both irrational and unreasonable.”

The content of the forensic report is just one of several problems on the horizon for CSA, which are simply not being addressed because the sport is in a state of paralysis. Several labour disputes with recently dismissed or suspended high level staff members are pending.

It took CSA nearly nine months to dismiss CEO Thabang Moroe, using details contained in the forensic report to sack him. But they summarily dismissed six other senior members of staff in that period, again suggesting that the organisation is making it up as they go along. Corrie van Zyl, the general manager of cricket, has been reinstated.

Five of those dismissed employees – former chief operating officer Naasei Appiah, Ziyanda Nkuta (Senior Manager: Finance), Lundi Maja (Manager: Procurement), Dalene Nolan (PA to the COO) and Clive Eksteen (head of sponsorships) – have written to Sascoc to ensure their cases form part of the task team’s investigation.

“We wish to bring to your attention matters at CSA that we hope will be addressed in a manner that will not only do justice to us but also ensure that our fundamental human rights are upheld as provided for by the constitution of the country,” said the five in a letter to Sascoc.

“We wish to state categorically that our suspensions and subsequent dismissals were part of a witch hunt designed to unlawfully remove us from the organisation. With the exception of Corrie van Zyl, the rest of us have been subsequently expelled via rather arbitrary processes.”

They outline 42 claims of false charges, intimidation and procedural errors. “Our concern is that CSA has through various officials misled and continues to mislead Parliament, the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture and the public. By so doing CSA has created a narrative that the organisation’s woes are the results of irresponsible stakeholder and financial management for which we were suspended and in most cases dismissed.

The organisation seeks to paint a picture whereby it appears to have dealt with the problem by our expulsion and to assure all interested parties that this was done in keeping with good governance, natural justice and the law of the land.

This cannot be further from the truth as CSA has been underhanded in its dealing with us by completely abandoning any ethics that demand that a disciplinary hearing is conducted in a manner that is lawful, procedurally fair and in the best interest of the organisation and the sport.”

Whatever the merits of cases, it is clear CSA is either unwilling or incapable of correcting its governance issues that are leading to operational and financial armageddon for the sport.

As one insider said: “You know you’re in shit when Sascoc has to help you.” That, for better or worse, is the reality CSA faces because it’s obvious it is incapable of helping itself. DM168

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