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Graeme Smith cleared of racial bias allegations in Mark Boucher’s appointment as Proteas coach

Former director of cricket Graeme Smith and Proteas coach Mark Boucher. Picture: Supplied

Former director of cricket Graeme Smith and Proteas coach Mark Boucher. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 24, 2022

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Johannesburg - Graeme Smith was cleared of racism allegations by a two-man arbitration panel appointed by Cricket South Africa.

The former Proteas captain, who had served as Cricket SA’s Director of Cricket from December 2019 until March this year, was criticised in the final report released by CSA’s Transformation ombudsman, Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza who, chaired the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings last year and concluded that Smith had “acted in a prejudicial and discriminatory manner.”

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On Sunday night, Cricket SA released a statement confirming that Smith had been cleared with the two advocates who conducted the arbitration, Adv. Ngwako Maenetje SC and Adv. Michael Bishop found no evidence that Smith had shown bias in a trio of incidents that had been put before them.

Cricket SA also stated that it “appreciated” that “it has been difficult for Mr Smith to endure the unwarranted public disclosures of his personal information, including his remuneration, during the SJN process. CSA regrets that this occurred and wishes Mr Smith everything of the best going forward.”

Smith chose not to re-apply for the position of Director of Cricket after his contract ended on March 31.

In its statement, CSA said that Maenetje and Bishop determined that: “There was no evidentiary basis to conclude that Mr Smith engaged in racial discrimination against Mr Thami Tsolekile during the period 2012-2014; there was no evidentiary basis to conclude that Mr Smith was racially biased against black leadership at CSA and finally, there was no evidentiary basis to conclude Mr Smith’s appointment of Mr Mark Boucher, rather than Mr Enoch Nkwe, as coach of the men’s Proteas team in 2019 amounted to unfair racial discrimination.”

Smith’s case involved his not wanting to work with CSA’s former CEO, Thabang Moroe, who was subsequently dismissed based on the findings of a forensic audit. The SJN found that Smith, in demanding not to answer to Moroe when he was appointed, “evinces his racial bias against black leadership at CSA.”

Smith, through his lawyer, David Becker, slammed that assertion, stating that the fact that he’d worked under current acting CEO, Pholetsi Moseki and under other black officials on the board and Members Council was proof that he wasn’t biassed.

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In Sunday’s statement, CSA’s CEO, Pholetsi Moseki, who had a close working relationship with Smith said: “On behalf of the Exco, staff and players at CSA, I would like to thank Graeme for all that he did as the Director of Cricket. He put up his hand at a particularly tumultuous period for CSA and he has often gone beyond his contracted duties to assist CSA during his term.”

Tsolekile claimed in testimony before the SJN that Smith had blocked his selection for the Proteas in 2012.

In the case of Nkwe, who was the Proteas’s team manager in 2019 for a tour to India before being made Boucher’s assistant later that year after Smith was made Director of Cricket, the SJN stated that race played a determining factor in Boucher’s appointment ahead of Nkwe.

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“Did Mr. Smith and CSA differentiate between black and white coaches when they appointed Mr Boucher to the head coach position? The answer to the question is in the affirmative,” Ntsebeza’s report noted.

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Ntsebeza’s final report did state that the SJN’s findings were “tentative” and that further legal processes needed to be followed. In Smith’s case that was through arbitration, while Boucher will be subject to a disciplinary hearing in May.

“The manner in which these issues have been dealt with and resolved by the arbitration proceedings confirms CSA’s commitment to deal with the SJN issues in a manner that treats them with utmost seriousness but also ensures fairness, due process and finality,” said the chairman of Cricket SA’s Board of Directors, Lawson Naidoo.

“Now that finality on these processes has been reached, it is appropriate to recognise the extraordinary contribution that Graeme has made to South African cricket, first as the longest-serving test captain in cricket history and then as Director of Cricket from 2019 to 2022. His role as the DoC has been critical in rebuilding the Proteas Men’s team in particular and has laid a solid foundation for his successor.”

The full arbitration award will be available at www.cricket.co.za on Monday at 8am.

@shockerhess

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