Dumisa Ntsebeza says he has no power to ensure CSA implement his recommendations
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JOHANNESBURG – Renowned advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza said on Thursday that Cricket SA would be wasting a major opportunity if it didn’t implement recommendations to crush racial discrimination in the sport.
Ntsebeza admitted that he had no authority to ensure Cricket SA enforced whatever recommendations he made. The 71 year old advocate who served as a commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission among other high profile roles, will start his work as the ombudsman of CSA’s Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) project next month.
That project stemmed from several heart-breaking instances of descrimination in the sport described by a number of former players, coaches and administrators last year. Ntsebeza will conduct interviews with a wide range of entities including the individual players, coaches, administrators, sports ministers – past and present – and sponsors to gain a perspective about racial discrimination in the sport.
“This enquiry will be like a broad brush against the canvas, the nature of which will give us sufficient thrust to be able to appreciate the nature of the injustices of the past, that will be testified to by those who feel they have been victimised by the manner in which cricket as a sporting code was managed and dealt with,” said Ntsebeza.
Cricket SA has a notoriously bad record when it comes to implementing the recommendations of inquiries, most notably the Nicholson Commission, 12 years ago, which called for wide ranging changes in the way in which the organisation was administered.
“There is no provision in the terms of reference or any statute that whatever recommendations I make must be enforced,” Ntsebeza said.
He admitted to reading the Nicholson report and been slightly perplexed as to why recommendations haven’t been implemented as the South African government has demanded, but Ntsebeza added that in his interaction with CSA, he found no reason to believe that whatever he found would be ignored.
“I don’t sense in the discussions I’ve had with CSA that there isn’t a commitment or an appetite, to do this thing and make sure the recommendations are implemented. If I didn’t get that sense, I wouldn’t have taken the job.”
“I don’t have a magic wand, and I’m not mandated to carry a big stick to force people to implement my recommendations. I would hope that the nature of this project is such that those who are involved, those to whom recommendations are made that need to be implemented, will rise to the occasion,” Ntsebeza explained.
He added that he would have liked more time - two years - to run the project instead of six months, but understood the need for the processes to be limited to that period.
Cricket SA’s acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki, wouldn’t reveal how much the project was costing CSA – an organisation in deep financial strife – but said every available resource would be put at Ntsebeza’s disposal including utilising the provincial affiliates to help set up interviews in those places to which the advocate couldn’t travel to aid in conducting his work.
“As an organisation, CSA doesn’t want it to be a (box ticking) exercise. There are sufficient resources to ensure that we will be able to deliver on the process,” said Moseki.
If CSA is faithful to that process, it would provide an example to other sports, said Ntsebeza. “Cricket will be setting a very good benchmark if it implements any recommendations I make, because it will be a benchmark for all sporting codes in this country. They will benefit from the implementation of whatever I recommend. And what I recommend will naturally be transformative.”
For all the heartache that was unveiled last year in light of the Black Lives Matter social movement, Cricket SA has the opportunity to ensure genuine long lasting change, and it is an opportunity that Ntsebeza does not want the organisation to waste.
“Changes come about because people who failed in the first experiments went back and tried to
achieve a different result. That is what I hope to achieve,” said Ntsebeza.