Nathi Mthethwa’s stance on Cricket South Africa remains very clear
In an amazing admission, the South African Sports Ministry said on Wednesday, that its head - Nathi Mthethwa - had shown “an extraordinary demonstration of patience,” with Cricket South Africa.
Mthethwa hosted a joint meeting of Cricket SA’s Members Council and the Interim Board - which he appointed last October - and laid down the law in no uncertain terms to CSA’s provincial presidents. Mthethwa has indeed shown plenty of patience with CSA in the last 18 months, where one crisis has followed another, but he appeared to be at his wits end on Tuesday as he clearly outlined that his anger with the Members Council’s rhetoric and the seemingly endless roadblocks they have kept putting in the path to administrative reform.
While the Ministry’s statement adopted a more diplomatic tone, the seriousness of Mthethwa’s stance was still very clear. “It is important not to allow boardroom disputes to trump player welfare,” Mthethwa said.
“I am being dared to take executive action. In my opinion, it is clear that the court of public opinion shows no appetite for any unnecessary delays and own-goals, especially at a time when sponsors have demonstrated unbelievable loyalty and patience.”
In terms of the powers at his disposal - through the National Sports and Recreation Act of 1998 - Mthethwa can remove recognition from Cricket SA as the main authority that runs the sport in this country, taking away its right to award national colours which could lead to CSA losing its status as a member of the International Cricket Council.
Tuesday’s meeting followed a week of back and forth statements between the Interim Board, chaired by Stavros Nicolaou, the Aspen Pharmacare Group's Senior Executive responsible for Strategic Trade Development, and the Members Council about the implementation of Nicholson’s recommendations.
Mthethwa was very clear that he wanted those recommendations - which include most crucially the need for a majority of independent directors to sit on CSA new Board - implemented and gave CSA’s Members Council, the organisation’s most powerful decision-making body, comprising the 14 provincial presidents, until April 6, to ensure that happens.
Last week, the Members Council stated that eight presidents had voted against implementing the Nicholson recommendations, which were made following a Commission of Inquiry that was instituted to investigate the so-called ‘bonus scandal,’ which led to the sacking of former CEO, Gerald Majola.
The Ministry’s statement on Wednesday added that clarification was provided at the previous night’s meeting about “some misinterpretations” even though the Members Council still clung to the 2013 CSA stance of “cricket needing to be run by cricket people.” It was that very stance, influenced by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, that led CSA to ignoring Nicholson, and persisting with a majority of non-independents on the Board. Ultimately that created the administrative mess that has dominated the organisation for the last three years, led to a forensic audit, the suspension of CEOs and presidents and finally to Mthethwa appointing an Interim Board.
“Amongst the points of clarification were the fact that “independent” does not necessarily translate to “cricket illiteracy” and a “majority of independents over non-independents can be anything from 51% to 49%,” the statement added.
Also on Wednesday, Proteas batsman, Aiden Markram, said the drama at administrative level was largely being ignored by the players. “It can only create more obstacles for us as a team, which would be quite unnecessary for our squad.” said Markram. “We are solely focused on the cricket and preparing for this series (against Pakistan).”
“We trust that the people up top will make the right decisions for the benefit of the game in the country, which ultimately, is extremely important to all of us.”