FILE - Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa. Photo: Ntswe Mokoena
FILE - Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa. Photo: Ntswe Mokoena

South Africa may be at risk of losing the Proteas

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Apr 19, 2021

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South Africa risks being without a national cricket side should Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa invoke the powers available to him, in terms of the National Sports and Recreation Act.

Mthethwa has officially reached the end of his tether with Cricket South Africa (CSA), and specifically the organisation’s Members Council, following a special general meeting on Saturday, in which the council failed to implement the necessary changes to ensure administrative reform at the beleaguered organisation.

Yesterday, Mthethwa said he would take “the necessary steps required to exercise his rights in terms of the law”.

The powers available to Mthethwa in terms of section 13(5) of the Act give him the right to remove recognition of the federation as the authority on the sport, and to stop providing funding for it. That latter punishment may not have much impact at CSA, as the grant from the government is miniscule – in the region of R500 000.

Revoking recognition will have a much greater material effect, with CSA not being able to hand out international caps, meaning the Proteas will no longer be recognised as the representative team of the country. The men’s team is due to tour the West Indies in June.

ALSO READ: CSA in crisis ... Nathi Mthethwa may step in after Members Council go back on their word

Sponsors are also unlikely to want to provide further backing for a team that isn’t the official representative of the country.

Mthethwa accused CSA’s Members Council of “acting in bad faith”, after the council had previously informed him that it had agreed to make the changes to CSA’s constitution to enable it to reform the administration. At Saturday’s special general meeting, which Mthethwa attended, the Members Council didn’t reach the 75% majority needed to implement the changes.

“This turn of events, taking place at the back of several missed opportunities by the Members Council, has left the minister with no further option but to exercise his rights in terms of s13(5) of the Sports Act,” the Ministry said early yesterday morning.

ALSO READ: Nathi Mthethwa’s stance on Cricket South Africa remains very clear

Members Council chairperson Rihan Richards said he was convening another meeting of the council for last night. Richards described the current impasse as being a “very difficult situation”.

THE South African men’s team’s tour to the West Indies in June and the national women’s team’s trip to England later this year could be in jeopardy if Nathi Mthethwa follows through with his threat to ban Cricket SA as the sport’s governing body in the country.

SA cricket was left reeling yesterday after the Minister of Sport said he would be invoking his rights under the National Sports and Recreation Act that include not recognising a federation. Should that happen, CSA will no longer be able to hand out national colours and the Proteas won’t be the national representative team of SA.

That could mean the Proteas not touring, and the effects of that on sponsorship deals will be severe for a sport that is already suffering because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Sponsors will want to suspend deals, and the national men’s team that generates 80% of all revenue in South African cricket, will be in danger. So all that revenue will disappear and then broadcasters won’t want to show the team, because that’s not the Proteas, it’s not South Africa playing,” said the chief executive of the SA Cricketers’ Association, Andrew Breetzke.

“No one wants to show a social game.”

Mthethwa will make a pronouncement on his decision this week, but following Saturday’s Special General Meeting of CSA’s Members’ Council – the highest decision-making body in the organisation, comprising the 14 provincial presidents – the minister was left with no choice.

The Members’ Council had on April 10 informed Mthethwa that it had agreed to make the necessary changes to CSA’s Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) allowing for more independent directors to serve on the new board and for the board’s chairman to also be an independent as well.

However, at Saturday’s meeting, with Mthethwa present, a section of the Members’ Council did a hatchet job, using Sascoc as cover to reverse its earlier pledge and not vote with the necessary majority to change the MOI.

Eastern Province Cricket president Donovan May, with support from Daniel Govender (KwaZulu-Natal), John Mogodi (Limpopo), Gibson Molale (Northern Cape) and Simphiwe Ndzundzu (Border) asked that Saturday’s vote be kept secret.

Ultimately, the Council failed to obtain the 75% majority needed to change the MOI

Sascoc president Barry Hendricks was only invited to the meeting as an observer, but following a request from May – understood to be one of the ringleaders of the faction on the Members’ Council that wants to maintain the status quo – Hendricks was allowed to read a letter in which he stated that CSA needed to provide Sascoc with a copy of changes to the MOI lest CSA be in breach of Sascoc’s constitution.

Hendricks’ intervention infuriated Mthethwa, who issued a stunning rebuke of the Sascoc president, saying the Olympic body’s opportunity to intervene in CSA’s troubles had long since passed.

The chairman of the CSA Interim Board, Stavros Nicolaou, described Sascoc’s intervention as “totally unacceptable and indeed appeared orchestrated”.

Mthethwa appointed the Interim Board last year to resolve CSA’s administrative crisis.

The Interim Board said yesterday that it would still be submitting a report – which should have gone to CSA’s next Annual General Meeting – that will “provide details of the ongoing and acute governance failures in cricket”.

Nicolaou added that the Members’ Council’s actions placed the future of the sport at “grave risk.”

“The Board believes that the minister was left with no option but to invoke his powers in terms of the Act. The Board remains concerned that the impact of the Members’ Council’s actions will have serious consequences for cricket's stakeholders, specifically grassroots cricket and sponsorship contracts.”

@Shockerhess

IOL Sport

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