Norman Arendse testifies during the Judge Nicholson inquiry into the Cricket SA bonus scandal. Picture: Masi Losi

A race row has broken out over the new board and chairmanship of Cricket SA – which a key figure has slammed as “too white”.

The CSA board has further been accused of ignoring Cape Town-based advocate Norman Arendse as the best possible man to lead cricket into the future.

Shawn Christiansen was head of an independent interim nominations committee appointed by the acting CSA board to find five new independent board members. Christiansen and Denver Hendricks, Brian O’Connell and Ansie Ramahlo advertised the call for nominations from August 13 to September 14 and later submitted their selection.

Their nomination for the new chairman was Arendse, followed by Dawn Mokhobo, Vusi Pikoli, Louis von Zeuner and Mohamed Iqbal Khan.

Mokhobo is chairperson of the board of Wesizwe Platinum and serves on the boards of several other companies.

Pikoli is a member of the EU Foundation for Human Rights and the Magistrate’s Commission and also serves as a trustee of the Constitutional Court.

Von Zeuner is deputy group chief executive of Absa Group, while Khan is a member of the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants and CEO for Old Mutual Investment Group SA.

The committee recommended that Geoff Whyte and Julian Smith play key roles in sub-committees.

Whyte was described as “a proven business leader with experience in the top echelons of leading global organisations”, while Professor Smith is vice-rector at the University of Stellenbosch and professor of literature and drama.

Yesterday, the CSA acting board announced its decision, saying it had debated the committee’s recommendations thoroughly and had settled on its choice, as was its prerogative.

The board confirmed that it wanted Mokhobo, Pikoli, Von Zeuner and Khan. But it dismissed Arendse both as a board member and specifically as chairman.

Instead, the board appointed Von Zeuner as chairman, and added Whyte in Arendse’s place.

Asked why the board had not accepted the interim nominations committee’s recommendations, acting president Willie Basson explained: “Independence was at the core of the argument the whole time.”

He said the definition of “independent” had been exhaustively debated.

Ultimately, they had agreed that “independent excludes anyone who had anything to do with cricket in the past three years”.

Christiansen said he was unhappy that the nomination of Arendse had not been accepted.

The naming of two white people in the list of five – Von Zeunen and Whyte – left him “concerned about the demographics”.

He said the fact that CSA would have a white chairman was problematic, because cricket in SA “already has white captains, a white coach and a white CEO and a white acting president” – a reference to skippers Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers, Gary Kirsten and Jonathan Faull and Willie Basson.

“The coloured community in South Africa makes up an important constituency of cricket… as does the Indian community and the white community.

“We wanted to make sure that all our communities and races are sufficiently represented on this committee. So… we nominated Norman Arendse.”

Arendse said the supposed “involvement” in cricket in the past three years was “ridiculous” and included no actual involvement whatsoever.

Furthermore, this criterion had only been inserted into CSA’s articles of association after his nomination and interview, and was thus “patently unfair”.