Opinionista Ken Borland 21 February 2013

Here we go again, Cricket South Africa

The hopes that Cricket South Africa’s new board will steer the sport’s administration away from the scandals of the Gerald Majola era look set to be dashed. The new dispensation appears to be merely setting up a fresh cabal – one that includes several fierce supporters of the former chief executive. By KEN BORLAND.

The new regime at Cricket South Africa (CSA) will revolve around lead independent director Norman Arendse and the current board is dominated by his supporters.

The new board includes Andy O’Connor, who was Majola’s right-hand man, and Peter Cyster, another strong supporter of the central figure in the bonus scandal. The new directors come from provinces like Griqualand West, Easterns, Border and Boland.

The new CSA non-independent directors, elected on 2 February, are president Chris Nenzani (Border), vice-president Cyster (Boland), O’Connor (Easterns), Beresford Williams (WP), Graeme Sauls (EP), Fa-eez Jaffar (KZN) and Rihan Richards (GW).

When the nominations committee initially recommended Arendse for one of the independent directorships, the CSA board was vehemently opposed to his appointment. Now, less than four months later, that same board has voted Arendse as the lead independent director – and it appears favours were offered to secure his appointment.

Cyster was previously totally opposed to Arendse but is believed to have voted for him and is now the vice-president. Graeme Sauls, who has been on the board for just three months and has been an anonymous figure, is president of Eastern Province, once fierce opponents of Arendse. But they, too, are believed to have gone for him and Sauls now has a seat on the board of directors. Richards is another provincial president who has only been on the board for a short, anonymous while and is now a director.

Those smaller provinces have recently been getting more international games and there is the fear that the members of Nenzani’s new board will just be puppets run by Arendse.

And neither government nor the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is likely to interfere in CSA’s return to gravy-train administration, despite both having signed the Nicholson Commission’s findings and agreeing to help implement all of the retired judge’s recommendations.

Though Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula can’t really flex his muscles anymore in the wake of backing the wrong horse at Mangaung, there is perhaps a more sinister reason why Sascoc has ditched its original support for Nicholson’s recommendations and backed Arendse in his bid to be an independent director – despite the fact that he is an honorary life president of Western Province cricket.

Arendse can attend Western Province board meetings and vote, but said he does not participate. However, anyone aware of Arendse’s domineering personality will find that hard to believe. When he was president of CSA, between 2007 and 2008, he tried to do the jobs of both CEO and convenor of selectors. Merely observing is not this man’s style.

The rule that excludes candidates who have been involved in cricket in the past three years disqualified SK Reddy from KwaZulu-Natal, but it appears the rule does not to apply to Arendse.

Sascoc’s about-turn perhaps has its roots in an allegation of attempted bribery Arendse made against its president, Gideon Sam, which was revealed a year ago.

Arendse alleged that while he was chairing the adjudication committee for a R7-billion state tender in 2008, he was offered an “open chequebook” bribe by an individual claiming to represent Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).
Arendse refused to confirm or deny the identity of the inducer, but the Mail & Guardian said Arendse named Sam when he recorded the incident. The tender is now the subject of court action by one of the bidders which failed to win the contract, but it could be telling that Arendse, an advocate, never reported the attempted bribe to the police, as required by South African law.

The franchises are almost bankrupt and always begging for money, which is how CSA keeps them under control. CSA is always pleading poverty, but its income from broadcast rights runs into 10 figures every four years. Independent directors at some franchises are said to have refused to sign the annual reports because, technically, the franchise is insolvent.

The best people for the jobs are certainly not being elected by CSA, even though the Companies Act states quite clearly directors must always act in the best interests of the company and not themselves. The same people that ignored the Companies Act in allowing Majola free reign, are ignoring the same law again.

Both Archie Pretorius of North-West, the chief forensic auditor for a leading mining house, and chartered accountant Vincent Sinovich, who were, coincidentally, two of the minority who were critical of Majola, have been sidelined as directors.

Cyster, a dentist, is now the non-independent director who sits on the finance committee.

And there could be further trouble ahead for CSA when it comes to appointing its new CEO to replace Jacques Faul.

Former International Cricket Council CEO and Proteas selection convenor Haroon Lorgat is the overwhelming favourite for the post, but that could be disastrous for South Africa’s standing in international cricket politics.

Reports from India make it clear that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will be reconsidering the “special relationship” between the two countries should Lorgat be appointed.

The former ICC CEO was the chief nemesis for the BCCI when it came to furthering its agenda at a global level. The way leading Indian administrators have openly taken the credit for Lorgat’s contract not being renewed suggests the same bad reaction will afflict the alliance between them and Cricket South Africa. DM


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