The South Africa board now runs the risk of ministerial intervention
Cricket South Africa runs the risk of ministerial intervention after its Members’ Council – the decision-making arm of the organisation, which is made up of provincial presidents – rejected the interim board’s proposal for a majority independent board.
At a meeting on Saturday, the members’ council advised the interim board that eight of its 14 participants voted against an independent board. This means the interim board is unable to complete one its most pressing tasks as directed by the country’s sports minister Nathi Mthethwa: to lay the framework for a new board in line with the 2012 Nicholson Commission. The interim board and minister are expected to address the public on further steps in the coming days.
The reluctance of the Members’ Council to implement an independent board dates back to the time that the Nicholson report was presented to them. Part of the reason the Members’ Council continue to appoint non-independent directors is to please the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), the umbrella body under which all sports federation in this country operate – SASCOC does not approve of a majority of independent directors. That means cricket’s is mostly run by people who are involved in the domestic structures and not outsiders from the corporate world or elsewhere.
Under the non-independent board, CSA has been steeped in administrative chaos that has seen several senior staff suspended for alleged misconduct and resulted in severe financial losses. Currently, CSA is still working to avoid debt that could run into hundreds of millions of Rands as a result of the failure to secure broadcasting rights for a domestic franchise T20 tournament, the Mzansi Super League, among other things. The South African Cricketers Association has previously called the situation CSA is in “an existential crisis”, something the sports minister has recognised and acted on.
It was on Mthethwa’s insistence that the interim board was put in place after he threatened to step in at CSA following 18 months of headline-making over questionable governance, which led to the suspension and eventual sacking of CEO Thabang Moroe. CSA is still without a permanent CEO, and is on its third acting head, and is also without a board or a framework for how to appoint one, which essentially puts it back where it was six months go – on the cusp of government intervention.
Mthethwa can act according to the country’s National Sport and Recreation Act, which gives him the power to intervene “in any dispute, alleged mismanagement or other related matter that is likely to bring a sport into disrepute”. He can also take away funding from CSA and may no longer recognise it as a national federation.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent