It has a new structure, but cricket’s real work starts now
Cricket South Africa has been set on a new course, but some old problems still persist.
First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
A week after invoking his powers to strip Cricket South Africa (CSA) of its status as the sport’s national body, Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa formally withdrew his decree on Friday after peace had been brokered. Following months of a leadership battle paralysing the sport, the result of several issues, there is now clarity on how the game can start tackling these hurdles.
The CSA Members’ Council finally accepted governance changes by amending its Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) this week. That occurred after the CSA faced losing its status as custodians of the game when Mthethwa invoked his powers to “de-recognise” CSA.
The annual general meeting must adopt a new board by 12 June. It will have 15 directors. Eight will be independent non-executive directors, five will be non-independent and two executive positions will be the CEO and CFO.
“At 11am on 27 April the resolution was passed unanimously. It is unequivocal and shows that the affiliates support modern governance,” said interim board chairperson Stavros Nicolaou.
“It defines clarity, role understanding and transparency between the board and Members’ Council, which allows for accountability.”
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) opposes the move. Sascoc president Barry Hendricks said that he still intended to engage Mthethwa on the matter because it set a precedent for all sporting bodies in the country to follow the same path.
Some might argue that is an entirely good thing.
Regardless of the outcome of talks between Sascoc and the Sports Ministry, the CSA has accepted an amended MOI and the job is to now to knuckle down and fix cricket.
CSA acting president Rihan Richards also dismissed Hendricks’s assertion that the Members’ Council had buckled under a threat from Mthethwa that led to the amendments being accepted.
“We were under pressure but that was because we had to do what we felt was right for the game,” Richards said at a parliamentary sports portfolio committee briefing on Friday.
“The action of the minister to appoint an interim board was done by consensus and the document that has been arrived at has been reached by consensus.”
Governance failures affect cricket
The 450-page Fundudzi Forensic Report, an independent forensic report into the CSA, uncovered a multitude of governance failures by both the previous board and the Members’ Council. It was obvious the CSA could not rectify its own structures, which is why Mthethwa stepped in last October.
Fundudzi provided a roadmap for the interim board to follow. The interim board also had a nine-point mandate with a clear instruction to implement the 2012 Nicholson recommendations, which put an independent board and chairperson at the heart of those structural changes.
Richards said in a statement after the amended MOI had been accepted: “The Members’ Council is pleased to have been part of a thorough and fruitful consultative process today. Today is a historic day for cricket in South Africa and we look forward to being part of a new governance structure for cricket and playing our part in ensuring sound administration of the game we hold so dear.
“I am grateful to my Members’ Council colleagues and the interim board for ensuring that we avert a proposed ministerial intervention, which would have caused cricket in our country irreparable harm,” he said.
Of course, it ignores the fact that the sport the Members’ Council claims to “hold so dear” reached the brink of collapse because of certain individuals who resisted a clear mandate.
Mthethwa explained to the parliamentary sports committee on Friday what led to his action, which he subsequently withdrew: “The direction was very clear from me. Transform the governance of this sport and modernise it. We have pleaded with CSA since 2012 to adopt [the] Nicholson recommendations and seeing as we went through the process, we had no option but to invoke the Act.”
A nominations committee, comprising six people from independent organs such as the Legal Practice Council and the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants, will be established to review potential independent directors for the new board.
The new board will have 15 directors. Eight will be independent non executive directors, five will be non independent and two executive positions which will be the CEO and CFO of CSA.
The complete handover from the interim board to a new permanent board will be in six weeks, but the issues facing cricket are massive.
Foremost is the long-term financial health of the organisation. In late 2018 the CSA announced that it was facing losses of R654-million over the next broadcast cycle, which ends in 2022.
That problem has not magically disappeared, nor has the fact that several sponsors, such as Standard Bank and Momentum, did not renew lucrative contracts in the past year.
On the field the Proteas men’s team is struggling in terms of performances and there are still unresolved issues to do with funding a domestic T20 league.
Recent timeline of events that led to CSA governance restructure
- In late 2018 CSA publicly announced a projected and staggering R654-million loss over the next four years.
- SA Cricketers’ Association (Saca) took legal action against CSA in May 2019, making an application at the Gauteng High Court for CSA to show cause after unsuccessful attempts to engage then-CEO Thabang Moroe.
- Due to the dire financial outlook, CSA presented a R76-million cut from the professional player budget but failed to engage with Saca on the details of the adjustment.
- The two editions of Mzansi Super League (MSL) will result in a R200-million loss for CSA. Saca believes that figure is being understated.
- CSA put the WP Cricket Association into administration, using its “step-in clause”. WPCA cricket officials warned CSA the decision was unlawful but in a meeting with Moroe they were told “we are comfortable with the decision”.
- Arbitrator Phillip Ginsburg SC ruled in favour of WPCA, overturning CSA’s decision. Ginsburg criticised the CSA board for not following its own regulations and not applying their minds to the process.
- Moroe revoked the accreditation of five journalists who have been critical of the organisation.
- Standard Bank announced it would not renew its R80-million a year sponsorship with CSA.
- Moroe suspended with full pay. CSA announced an independent forensic audit will take place.
- Forensic report ordered by MC, but didn’t want findings made public.
- Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa steps in after Sascoc requests his intervention. He appoints Interim Board with a clear mandate.
- Mandate stipulates majority independent board, independent chair.
- MC resists as it would weaken their power. Seven members of MC also on the previous board undermining independence.
- Sascoc intervened at SGM on 17 April.
- Resolution to change MOI fails.
- Mthethwa invoked clause 13 (5) of the
- Sport and Recreation Act to strip CSA of its powers.
- Urgent 48 hours of meetings, leaders do about-turn from MC. They agree to the amendments. DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.