Nairobi dispute echoes back to the dark days
Cricket Kenya has postponed the board elections for a second time following a decision by the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association on Saturday to appoint a nine-man committee to look into a new constitution.
In a situation more akin the dark days of the old KCA, on June 20 the NPCA's member clubs refused to approve acting chairman Sukhbans Singh's report or to pass accounts for the last three years. Members were angry that no public meeting had been held since 2004 and that the existing NPCA board had failed to amend its constitution in accordance with an agreement made by all Kenya's stakeholders more than two years ago.
Matters came to a head because under Cricket Kenya's constitution, the NPCA, which is the country's most influential province containing most of the major clubs, could not participate in the elections for the CK board, due on July 22, while its old constitution remained in place.
At a heated meeting ten of the 17 clubs that make up the NPCA - of which 14 were present - refused to adopt the accounts and made it clear that they were deeply unhappy with the activities of the current board. The NPCA has not held any AGM or presented accounts since 2004 and its chairman, Salim Dhanji, has been in Australia since January.
Under the CK constitution and those of the other two provinces - Rift Valley and Coast - any CK board member has to be a member of a cricket club belonging to that province. But Singh is not a delegate of any club and it is believed that others are in a similar position. Under the NPCA's existing constitution, once elected they can continue to remain in office as existing officials, and it is that provision which both the clubs and CK is looking to change.
It was expected that the NPCA would adopt the provisions of a club-driven constitution which formed the basis of the new CK constitution as approved by the African Cricket Association in 2005 and which, at the time, all stakeholders bought into.
In light of the delay which will result from the NPCA assessment, CK decided to postpone the elections again to enable NPCA sufficient time to get its house in order. The NPCA meeting reportedly agreed on a timetable to consult with their member clubs and to finalise the form of a new constitution within 75 days of their meeting. CK announced that they supported this fresh initiative by the NPCA which, despite the lengthy delay, would resolve the impasse and permit national elections to take place as soon as the new NPCA constitution was in place.
It is understood that some of the NPCA executive were against another delay and wanted to hold the elections under the existing constitution but this was strongly opposed by CK who had made it clear that all NPCA's nominees to the CK board would have to first be approved by the NPCA's member clubs.
However, the CK executive is unlikely to allow an open-ended delay and under its own rules, which all provinces accepted in 2005, it could impose the same constitution it operates under on the NPCA if it felt that the issue was not being seriously addressed.
Given that the NPCA executive has had more than two years to resolve this issue, there are many who feel that Cricket Kenya would be well within its rights to do this.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa