Former justice of the Constitutional Court Zak Yacoob is the chairman of the interim Board of Directors. Photo: IOL
Former justice of the Constitutional Court Zak Yacoob is the chairman of the interim Board of Directors. Photo: IOL

Another day of drama for embattled CSA as England tour in jeopardy

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Nov 13, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - The chairman of the interim Board of Directors, appointed to try and resolve the problems at Cricket South Africa, described some members of CSA's management executive as un-cooperative and rude on Friday.

Speaking to the media in the wake of the CSA Members Council decision not to recognise the nine-person independent interim body, retired constitutional court justice, Zak Yacoob, said his team had faced numerous obstacles from CSA’s office staff as it attempted to do the job it’s been mandated to carry out by Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa.

Yacoob was specifically asked about CSA’s company secretary, Welsh Gwaza, who is widely viewed as the person pulling the strings behind the scenes at CSA, influencing former board members and current representatives of the Members Council.

“I don’t want to mention people’s names," said Yacoob, “but those members of the administration, and Mr Gwaza is a company secretary in that context, that we have reacted with, have been uncooperative, difficult, unresponsive, arrogant and sometimes rude.”

“That has been part of the problem. We have been trying to get information from them, to get them to account and my suspicion is, that it is because of the administration’s dissatisfaction with the (interim) board that they have probably complained to the Members Council and there’s a strong chance that the executive have had a great deal of influence in this decision to exclude the interim Board.”

Cricket SA’s acting president, Rihan Richards, said the Members Council - the 14-person body made up of the provincial union presidents - would no longer recognise the interim independent Board announced by Mthethwa two weeks ago. Richards cited technicalities related to CSA’s Memorandum of Incorporation as the principle reason for doing so.

Richards also said that one of the interim Board members, CSA’s former CEO, Haroon Lorgat, had a conflict of interest since part of the investigation conducted by the Fundudzi forensic investigators included a period when Lorgat was in charge at CSA, and related specifically to the failed Global League T20.

Minister of Sport Art and Culture Nathi Mthethwa. Photo: GCIS

On Friday, both Yacoob and Mthethwa dismissed that notion, saying the matter relating to Lorgat had in fact been cleared up and that Yacoob had made it clear verbally and in writing that Lorgat would recuse himself when matters related to the GLT20 were going to be discussed. Yacoob said the issue was being used to distract from more pressing matters facing CSA.

“The Lorgat matter is just a red herring, it is just an excuse. They’ve got too much to hide - which is just my opinion - and that opinion may be wrong and they can prove it wrong by saying, ‘come into our offices and look wherever you like, you will never find that we did anything wrong.’ If they do that I will apologise for having my opinions and I will withdraw it completely.”

Cricket SA’s Members Council incurred Mthethwa’s wrath on Friday as he threatened to invoke sanctions according to the national Sports and Recreation Act, which allow him to withdraw recognition of CSA as the governing body for the sport in the country. Were he to do that, it would be viewed as interference by the International Cricket Council - which frowns upon governments stepping into national boards and thus could ban CSA.

That could place in jeopardy the tour to this country by the England team, who are due to arrive in the country next week to play three T20 and three One-Day Internationals.

“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 revisit 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,” Mthethwa wrote in a five page letter addressed to Richards and the Members Council.

The Council is due to meet on Friday evening where the letter and Yacoob’s remarks will almost certainly be discussed. “I don't know what the thinking is in England but if the Members Council does not take a proper decision (Friday) evening, England will probably be seriously discouraged from coming."

Both Yacoob and Mthethwa were stunned by CSA using the Memorandum of Incorporation to hide behind in making the decision not to recognise the interim body.

“It is unconscionable for either senior CSA officials and/or the Members Council to continuously hide behind technicalities to frustrate the process of cleaning up the mess created by the previous Board, arguably with the concurrence of the Members Council,” said Mthethwa.

Yacoob concurred. “It was a deal, where we believed the Members Council would legitimate us, the Minister believed that the Members Council would legitimate us, and they didn’t actually do so. They broke their promise, and they broke their promise because we as the proposed board began interfering too quickly and too soon, they just became very, very uncomfortable.”

“It could be said we should have bided our time, treated them nicely, pretended that we were going to be good to them and they might have confirmed us, maybe that was a mistake on our part,” he cheekily added.

Yacoob said that had the interim Board been properly appointed, according to CSA’s Memorandum of Incorporation, then it would have been able to properly instruct CSA’s executive administration. “In a sense that is the bone of contention,” said the retired justice.

“ But now we have not been appointed, we are not accountable to anybody except this, we have committed as a public duty to the minister, to carry out a mandate that he has placed upon our shoulders. We have undertaken to do it properly and in that sense we are accountable to the minister to ensure we do the job properly, but that accountability is not as important because in the first place we are accountable to ourselves to do the job properly.

We commit to the public that we will do the job properly and we are accountable for that. We are accountable to CSA and everyone on our promise that we will do this job properly.”

@shockerhess

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