Cricket South Africa crisis is erupting on many fronts
JOHANNESBURG - Any sense that Cricket South Africa was freeing itself of crisis was blown out of the water at the weekend, with differences between the Interim Board and Members Council deeply entrenched, while the organisation has been dragged into yet more legal troubles, this time related to alleged discrimination related to sexual orientation.
Cricket SA has been taken to the Labour Court after Karen Smithies, a former England captain and currently the manager of the Titans side, referred a dispute to the court after being overlooked for the position of team manager of the national women’s team. Smithies contends that she was passed over for the job, because she’s gay.
On Saturday evening, CSA confirmed that it would “defending Smithies’ claim.” Cricket SA’s Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, had erroneously been drawn into the controversy after his name was highlighted by The Times newspaper in the United Kingdom, simply because he’d sat in on Smithies’ interview.
Cricket SA stated on Saturday that Smith had left the meeting as soon as it was completed and was not party to any discussions which took place afterwards when comments of a discriminatory nature were allegedly made.
Meanwhile CSA’s Members Council - the organisation’s most powerful decision-making body, comprising the 14 provincial presidents - accused the Interim Board, appointed last October by Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa, of trying to “cause irreparable harm to CSA.”
The accusation stems from the Members Council’s refusal to adhere to changes to the administrative structure, which Mthethwa had mandated the Interim Board to implement.
Mthethwa wants to see the recommendations made by the Nicholson inquiry ten years ago applied so that more independent directors are appointed onto CSA’s new board.
Last Thursday, the Interim Board stated that some provincial presidents - among eight who voted against implementing the proposed changes - may not have had their vote properly recorded or were not fully informed about certain aspects of the changes.
However the Members Council disputed that notion in a statement it released on Saturday evening. “The Members’ Council categorically denies that the Chairperson or any member of the Interim Board had written any letter to them regarding the voting patterns of its members, prior to his media statement. Similarly, we dispute that the Members’ Council outcome of the votes have been manipulated or misinterpreted in any way when in fact Members’ Council conveyed the views as mandated by their respective Affiliates,” the Members Council said in its statement.
Last week, it was apparent that the two entities were deadlocked but it now appears that they are at war and that Mthethwa will have to step in. The Minister’s official stance is that he will wait until mid-April, when the Interim Board is supposed to complete its work, before making any public statement. He was briefed by the Interim Board last week, following the Members Council’s vote, and given the stance adopted by both entities in the last week, may need to make his stance clear before then.