Cricket South Africa facing a sticky wicket
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JOHANNESBURG - While internally, Cricket South Africa’s officials have attempted to paint a rosy picture of the organisation to players and the remaining sponsors, confirmation last week, that the Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa, is ready to intervene at the organisation, shows otherwise.
High ranking officials at CSA, including the acting CEO Kugandrie Govender, met with the national players on Thursday where the players were told that CSA was a stable organisation.
Govender confirmed yesterday that she told the players that from a financial perspective CSA was in a stable position.
That may be the case for now. However CSA’s finances will feel the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown eventually, especially if it can’t sign any sponsors and the revised broadcast deal with SuperSports isn’t signed.
Other parts of CSA may not be as stable as the finances are currently. The day before Govender met with the players, a clear signal of just what an unstable organisation CSA is, was apparent through the statement made by Mthethwa’s office that he was giving the federation until 5pm on October 27 to “make written representations, should they wish to, on why he should not exercise his decision to intervene as enjoined by the laws of the country.”
Cricket SA has made three appearances before the parliamentary portfolio committee for sport art and culture in the last five months, its leadership has had several meetings with Mthethwa, it has been the subject of a forensic investigation, a CEO was fired, another acting CEO resigned a month before his contract ended, the president also resigned a month before his term was due to end, sponsors have walked away and the nationally contracted players have expressed their disappointment with how the organisation is being run.
That does not sound like a stable organisation. Before Mthethwa’s pronouncement on Wednesday, he received a letter from CSA’s acting president, Beresford Williams which is staggering in its tone. Williams basically charges that Mthethwa doesn’t understand the law - the National Sports and Recreation Act of 1998 - that informs his ministry.
“The members of the CSA Board have now had an opportunity to consider your request that they “step down,” Williams wrote on October 9. “Each one of them is of the view that he / she will not “step down” unless duly removed from office in accordance with the applicable provisions of CSA’s memorandum of incorporation. They are of the view (and have been advised) that you do not have power, in terms of the National Sport and Recreation Act 110 of 1998, to require members of the CSA Board to “step down.” Naturally that did not go down well with Mthethwa.
“I want to point out that my role as Minister responsible for Sport, Arts and Culture, involves ensuring that the existing sports dispute-handling machinery is invoked in terms of Sascoc’s (SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) mandate, whenever it appears that certain of their affiliates are bringing their sport into disrepute.”
“In addition to the National Sport and Recreation Act 110 of 1998, you seem to selectively
quote from, to show that I do not have the power to intervene, you are kindly reminded
that as a sovereign country in which I am the Minister responsible for Sport, Arts and
Culture, there is a raft of laws at my disposal, that empower me to deal effectively with recalcitrant behaviour within my portfolio.”
How can any player, sponsor or persons with interest in cricket, read those paragraphs from Mthethwa and think the organisation running the sport is stable?
Govender, a handful of senior management staff and the board of directors were asked to “step aside,” while a proposal by Sascoc to establish a task team to investigate CSA takes place. Mthethwa supports those proposals by Sascoc. Cricket SA’s leadership is refusing to do so, basically putting them at war with the government.
Williams has talked of caring for the sport and wanting to serve it, but has shown anything but those traits as Cricket SA has lurched from one crisis to the next in the three short months he has been at the head of the organisation.
The last topic anybody at CSA has talked about is the game itself. There is a tour by 50-over world champions England that is due to take place next month, and it is absolutely critical for CSA finances that that trip occurs, even if crowds won’t be allowed into stadia.
Painting a rosy picture for the players about the organisation and blaming the media for being too harsh, is simply delusional.
The players aren’t stupid, they see, read and hear what is going, that a minister wants to intervene, that a season has been reduced, that the acting president gets asked to leave a meeting with parliament and that sponsors have left the sport. Cricket SA has still not uttered a word, publicly, about Mthethwa’s plan to intervene. Perhaps it is going to dig deeper into the Sports Act, perhaps it will lodge a complaint about government interference with the International Cricket Council - which could lead to SA cricket being banned from the international arena.