Sport

NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Cecilia Molokwane deflects allegations as Netball SA names CEO’s successor

Cecilia Molokwane deflects allegations as Netball SA names CEO’s successor
From left: Netball SA president Cecilia Molokwane. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images) | New CEO of Netball SA Modiegi Komane. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sydney Seshibedi)

Netball South Africa president Cecilia Molokwane dismissed a raft of allegations that were levelled against her prior to the World Cup, as the organisation named a new chief executive.

In June 2023, civil rights organisation AfriForum released a video in which former vice-president of Netball South Africa, Christine du Preez, and former umpire Annie Kloppers accused the federation’s current president, Cecilia Molokwane, of several misdemeanours.

These included racism, mismanagement and interference when it came to selections. In AfriForum’s video, Molokwane was also labelled a narcissist who did not want to be questioned. 

With her focus on the Netball World Cup – which Africa hosted for the first time in 2023 when it took place in Cape Town – Molokwane was loath to entertain any questions around the allegations. Especially as most were levelled at her as an individual.

As Netball SA convened the media to officially announce Modiegi Komane as the replacement for the retiring CEO – Blanche de la Guerre – on Tuesday in Sandton, Molokwane finally broke her silence.

“My late grandmother taught me something very key in life. A dog will never bark at a stationary car. A dog will always bark at a moving car. It means there is something good that I’m doing,” Molokwane told Daily Maverick regarding the scrutiny of her actions over the past few months.

“I don’t know what it is. But there is something. If I was not doing anything, nobody would be talking about me.”

International federations generally frown upon government interference in the running of national sports federations.

In 2022, football’s global governing body Fifa suspended Zimbabwe and Kenya from international competitions due to government interference in the running of their national soccer bodies.

Perhaps this is why, when asked about the claims against Molokwane at the launch of Cricket South Africa’s professional women’s league, Minister of Sport Zizi Kodwa merely said he was aware of the allegations.

“Those federations have the capacity to investigate if there are any allegations. I’ve heard about those allegations,” Kodwa told journalists in August.

As for Molokwane, she is less than concerned about the criticism she has received. She says she is more worried about ensuring that netball in the country keeps growing, with the backing of Netball SA’s executive council to propel her vision.

“People will go out and say I’m doing this and that wrong… I’m not going to answer to you. You’re not my council member. I report to council. I’ll answer to council,” Molokwane said.

“If I’m going to entertain every Tom, Dick and Harry that talks about me, that means I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know my value or my worth. Fortunately, I know those. So, I answer things that are relevant. When you become personal, I leave you. Because maybe you know me better than I know myself,” she continued.

“The timing of these things is very questionable. The timing of my stories is very questionable. Wrong stories, by the way. One day, I will sit down and say it as it is. For now, let it be about the CEO.”

New CEO

Komane replaces De la Guerre who had served the organisation since 2005 in various roles and who was also accused by Kloppers of running a fiefdom alongside Molokwane.

Coming into such a hot seat, there will be much focus on the new CEO. However, she says she is ready for the flames of scrutiny.

“I believe that with the experience I have gained over the years and the people around me within the federation, we will achieve more,” Komane told the media in Sandton.

“Our biggest task is to make this organisation more profitable and commercialise it – we need to be sustainable eventually. To professionalise netball, we need to be in business,” Komane said.

Komane had applied for the position twice. As De la Guerre’s contract was coming to an end, Netball SA initially put out an advert soliciting applications.

However, it was decided internally to let the previous CEO see out the World Cup, as she had played a pivotal part in bringing it to South Africa.

The new chief executive applied when the job was once again advertised. She was successful this time around. But why her?

“This is someone who is well travelled and has worked in government, private sector and business as well. She is no stranger to netball as she has been a player and administrator before. She knows the sport very well. I believe that we have found the right person to lead us in the right direction in terms of administration and commercialisation,” Molokwane said.

“She’s human. She’s not immortal. She’ll make mistakes. But we’ll reprimand her. That, she must be certain of. There’s no friendship here. What brings us together is the work and our goal to grow netball in order to turn it professional,” the president told journalists.

Komane has signed a year-long, performance-based contract with the federation. DM

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