BOARD GAMES

Cricket South Africa company secretary Welsh Gwaza suspended by interim board

By Craig Ray 1 December 2020

The interim board, chaired by the razor-sharp and fearless former Constitutional Court Judge Zak Yacoob, is flexing its muscles, backed by a mandate from the highest sporting office in the land. (Photo: Gallo Images / The Times / Moeletsi Mabe)

Cricket South Africa company secretary Welsh Gwaza has been suspended on full pay by the interim board for his role in a series of governance failures that pushed the organisation to the brink of collapse.

In the murky world of cricket politics, the man seen as a power broker in Cricket South Africa’s (CSA’s) previously self-serving leadership, company secretary Welsh Gwaza, has been suspended and put on notice that he faces a disciplinary hearing.

The CSA interim board, which is overwhelmingly independent, made the decision to put Gwaza on gardening leave for his role in a series of governance failures that pushed the organisation to the brink of collapse.

The CSA Members’ Council, the highest decision-making body in cricket – at least until the interim board arrived with a mandate to stop the rot by Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa – fought against the establishment of the interim board.

They fought because of fear of what is happening now – a clean-up operation where the lead characters in the mess are unable to close ranks and rule by fear. The interim board, chaired by the razor-sharp and fearless former Constitutional Court Judge Zak Yacoob, is flexing its muscles, backed by a mandate from the highest sporting office in the land.

“The CSA interim board can announce that its investigation emanating from the Fundudzi report into allegations of poor corporate governance and maladministration within CSA is well under way,” a statement from the interim board read. 

“The board has delivered a notice of disciplinary hearing to CSA’s company secretary, Mr Welsh Gwaza, regarding various allegations of misconduct against him.

“The hearing is to take place on 14 December 2020, when Mr Gwaza will be allowed to answer the charges which have been laid against him. Mr Gwaza has been suspended with full pay pending the determination of the disciplinary hearing.”

The nature of those charges has not been revealed, but in the 456-page Fundudzi forensic report, which the interim board released to the public last week, Gwaza was implicated in decisions to mislead the former board.

Among the many issues highlighted in the report is the deal for the sale of Mzansi Super League (MSL) broadcast rights to a company called Global Sports Commerce (GSC) Pte Ltd for a five-year period starting with the 2019 edition of the tournament. 

There is no evidence that CSA conducted due diligence on GSC as recommended by IMG.

Despite advice from sports sponsorship brokers IMG that CSA should secure an advance from GSC before going any further with the deal, that was never done.

“There is no evidence that CSA conducted due diligence on GSC as recommended by IMG,” Fundudzi states.

“In fact, [COO Naasei] Appiah created an impression that there was due diligence conducted by IMG. 

“We noted from a review of the minutes that Gwaza reassured the board that three lawyers had been working on the agreement and all risks identified had been covered. Gwaza further indicated that management had gone to great extent to cover issues of reputational risk and the guarantee for the R500-million. 

“It should be noted that at the time that the board considered GSC’s proposal, Appiah, [Thabang] Moroe and Gwaza were aware that there was no due diligence conducted on GSC.”

It’s a damning indictment of CSA’s leaders at the time and is one incident Gwaza will no doubt have to explain in his disciplinary hearing.

Perception management and Moon

At the height of the CSA leadership crisis, the organisation appointed a perception management company to attempt to soften the bad press it was receiving. In a move that was akin to putting a Band-Aid on a huge gash, it was yet another misstep by CSA.

“The board has, through CSA’s recently appointed attorneys [Dingley Marshall], terminated the services provided by CSA’s public relations independent contractor, PR Worx CC, with immediate effect,” the statement confirmed.

The interim board also questioned the appointment of head of human resources Chantal Moon. She was appointed by former CEO Thabang Moroe without proper procedure being followed and it has emerged that she does not hold the minimum qualifications for the job.

“The board has (also through CSA’s attorneys) delivered a notice of breach to CSA’s outsourced Human Resources service provider, People Link (Pty) Ltd,” the statement from the board read.

“The breach arises out of People Link having appointed Ms Chantel Moon as its representative to fulfil CSA’s HR function. 

“As has been revealed in the Fundudzi Report, various material procedural irregularities took place when People Link was appointed by CSA’s erstwhile CEO, Mr Thabang Moroe. The Fundudzi Report has also revealed that Ms Moon lacks CSA’s minimum qualification requirements for the HR position.

“People Link has therefore been afforded 48 hours to remedy its breach by appointing a properly qualified representative, in accordance with the terms of CSA’s service agreement with People Link.”

That last point is simply a legal requirement as it is impossible for Moon to gain the minimum qualifications over the next two days.

Fundudzi highlights how Moon, through People Link, was paid almost R3-million over four years as HR consultant. Fundudzi also noted that Moon was the “only director of People Link”.

Fundudzi further states: “We determined that the minimum requirements for the HR Manager position was at least a three-year degree in Human Resources Management with an industrial psychology major (postgraduate degree will be advantageous).

“Based on the People Link profile, we noted that Moon does not possess the minimum qualification requirements in respect of the HR Manager or Head of HR position.

“We were provided with CSA accounts payable for the period 2016 to 2020. Based on the review of the accounts payable, we determined that CSA made payments totalling R2.95-million to People Link for the period July 2016 to April 2020.

“The said payments were in respect of inter alia HR Generalist work conducted by People Link on behalf of CSA. We noted that during January 2020, People Link issued invoices totalling R490,000 as ‘backpay’.”

The interim board concluded: “The Interim Board remains committed to fulfilling its mandate and restoring confidence in CSA and its structures. The steps set out above have been taken to this end.

“Finally, we wish to say that these decisions were taken after serious consideration and debate during which differences of opinion were aired.” DM

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  • “Suspended on full pay..” what a crock of ….! This system of suspending on full pay leads to “Stalingrad” delaying tactics that carry on for months, if not years. Surely its time to suspend without pay? Payment is then made after the matter has been resolved – one way or the other. I think we will then see these disputes vanish or be resolved very quickly.

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