Nathi Mthethwa threatens CSA with ICC ban after ’breakdown in relationship’
JOHANNESBURG - Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa issued a sharp rebuke to Cricket South Africa’s Members Council threatening to use the sanctions available to him in the National Sport and Recreation Act - which include withdrawing recognition of CSA - if the organisation doesn't cooperate with the interim Board of Directors.
Mthethwa, who has attempted to stay out of the mess that CSA’s administration has become, and diligently followed every step of conflict resolution available to him, said he was “quite dismayed and deeply disappointed,” by CSA’s Members Council’s decision taken on Thursday, not to recognise the interim Board of Directors, he had appointed two weeks ago.
The Members Council, the 14-person body comprising the provincial presidents, cited technicalities in terms of CSA’s Memorandum of Incorporation for not recognising the nine-member interim Board.
In addition, CSA’s acting president Rihan Richards also said there was a “breakdown in the relationship,” between the Council and the Board.
Mthethwa said that none of the reasons offered for not recognising the interim Board are reasonable or rational.
“I find it most regrettable that you have purported to take the decision not to recognise the Interim Board. I implore you and the Members' Council to re-visit this decision immediately, and to afford the necessary recognition to the Interim Board, failing which, I will exercise my powers under the Act and issue a directive in that regard,” Mthetwha wrote in a five page letter addressed to Richards.
Mthethwa that it “defies logic and common sense,” that there could be a break down in the relationship given that the Board was only announced two weeks ago. When he announced the Board Mthethwa said it would need a minimum of three months to do its work.
“It is most revealing that you do not allege that the relationship has broken down irretrievably. I would therefore like to think that to the extent that there has been some or other breakdown, that the relationship can be restored immediately in the best interests of the game of cricket, and in the public interest,” said Mthethwa.
He goes on to state that given the state of disarray in which cricket finds itself he would be justified in intervening in CSA, and putting it into administration.
Citing Section 5 of the national Sports and Recreation Act, Mthethwa threatened to revoke CSA’s standing as the body that runs cricket in this country. Doing so could lead to a ban by the International Cricket Council.
Mthethwa adds later that the letter to Richards has been forwarded to the ICC.
“The game has lurched from one crisis to the another on an almost daily basis. In the circumstances, I would be failing in my statutory and constitutional duty not to intervene in what is nothing other than the poor governance of a sport which is a national asset.”
Richards had also cited a conflict of interest regarding Haroon Lorgat, CSA’s former CEO, who serves on the interim Board. While Richards wouldn’t go into specifics, it is understood that some on the Members Council are concerned about Lorgat’s presence given that the period in which the forensic auditors Fundudzi conducted their inquiry included 2016 when Lorgat was still CEO.
“In relation to Mr. Lorgat the interim Board resolved that he would recuse himself from any and all discussions related to the erstwhile Global League (T20 tournament),” said Mthethwa.
“I find it deeply disturbing that the Members Council are not prepared to accept a solemn undertaking from a former constitutional court judge (interim Board chair Zak Yacoob) who has served this country without fear or favour with much distinction over a period of many years.”
Mthethwa states further that the “biggest conflict of interest”, would be for the interim Board to report to the Members Council, “the very same Members Council (in its capacity as the highest decision making body in cricket) that has presided over what is nothing other than an implosion in our cricket.”
The Minister slams senior employees of CSA - who he doesn’t name - for not cooperating with the interim Board accusing them of hiding behind technicalities to “frustrate the process of cleaning up the mess created by the previous board arguably with the concurrence of the Members Council.”
“I have stood on the sidelines in the past almost two weeks or so and I have been impressed with the vigour, speed, passion and independence of the Interim Board. In fact, it would seem to me that they would be able to complete their task within the contemplated three month period.
“To do so, they require your consent, and your cooperation; not your filibustering tactics, and attempts to frustrate the Interim Board from getting to the bottom of what is rotten in South African cricket,” Mthethwa concluded.