SJN Hearings: Cricket South Africa’s very valuable exercise an example for the country
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JOHANNESBURG - THE Social Justice and Nation Building project has revealed some truly depressing and disgraceful home truths about cricket in South Africa.
It’s been a very forthright exercise. Players and officials have been given a lot of time to explain their experiences, even though the project’s ombudsman, Adv Dumisa Ntsebeza, believes he needs more. He’s probably right too, but Cricket SA, also, at some point, needed to draw a line under the project. It needs recommendations and most importantly for the new
Board of Directors, who will take receipt of Ntsebeza’s final report, those recommendations need to be implemented.
What the SJN has also done, as a couple of attendees have testified, is thrown a spotlight more broadly on South Africa, particularly socially. One witness this week said if an SJN type project was ever run in other sports like rugby, tennis or any of the Olympic sports, similar tales would be exposed. The same could be said of banks, broadcasters, cellphone companies and other businesses.
How many black people are not part of work WhatsApp groups and may thus be called all kinds of names behind their backs? How many black people have endured racism at their workplace, but kept their heads, clenched their jaws, smiled and ‘just got on with it.’? How many, like Paul Adams, “didn’t want to ruffle feathers.”?
How many women are working for businesses where they are not being promoted based on their gender or where men of lesser ability, and in junior positions, are receiving higher salaries?
This stuff happens. But it’s kept quiet. Human Resources departments, which is where many of these issues should be dealt with, have failed.
South African cricket needs to take responsibility for the horrible mess that’s been created in that sport, and the deep divisions which still exist because of race. The level of mistrust between administrators and players, administrators and coaches and administrators and other administrators have held back the sport in this country for far too long.
Those same circumstances remain prevalent in other sports and other sectors of society. For all the ‘rainbow nation’ giddiness of the 1990s, it is clear that South Africa as a country remains divided by race and gender. That has been exacerbated by the extreme levels of poverty prevalent in the country.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, on which Ntsebeza served, dealt with the country’s past, it wasn’t always adequate and there have been numerous examples of areas where it didn’t work as well as it should. However, it provided a measure of solace.
In post-Apartheid South Africa, social divisions remain. Cricket’s SJN has highlighted that in that particular sport.
For all the pain, anger, indignation, it has caused, the criticism of individuals and South African cricket as a whole, the SJN is a very necessary project and one that will add enormous value.
Cricket currently is under the hammer, but it has provided an example that other sectors of South African society could follow. Too much has remained hidden, voices silenced and people ‘just getting on with it’. Ruffling feathers can be extremely beneficial.