South Africa news January 7, 2013

CSA's acting president set to resign

Willie Basson, Cricket South Africa's acting president, is due to resign his post after his alleged involvement in South Africa's Apartheid-era chemical warfare project was revealed by local media. ESPNcricinfo has been informed Basson will quit early in the week.

Basson will step down with just over a month to go before CSA's AGM, where a new board will be appointed in accordance with the Nicholson committee recommendations. The meeting was postponed three times from August last year because the composition of the new board is under dispute.

According to the recommendations, CSA must have five independent directors on an 11-member board but the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), the governing body of all the country's sporting bodies, is unhappy with that division. SASCOC is not in favour of that many independent members and do not want an independent chairperson, as Nicholson stipulates.

There is a further dispute brewing over the position as well. The nominations committee CSA put in place to source the independent directors chose former board president Norman Arendse to chair the new board. The current board, which has the power to veto any suggestion made, did so.

Arendse took the matter to arbitration and won. The result means he will sit on the new board but whether he will chair it is not certain. CSA will decide whether they will honour Nicholson or give in to SASCOC's demands at a board meeting on Wednesday. They will not elect a new president, though, and will go through the AGM without one.

The Basson incident is the latest in a long line of administrative bungles at CSA which began when bonuses were paid to 40 staff members after the 2009 IPL and Champions Trophy without the approval of the board. The money was picked up as an irregularity in CSA's accounts and made headlines but the board did little to punish those responsible for violating corporate governance.

They held an internal investigation that cleared then chief executive Gerald Majola of any wrongdoing but after then president Mtutuzeli Nyoka won a court battle they had to submit to an external inquiry by auditing firm KPMG. After obtaining legal advice on the KPMG report, Majola was severely reprimanded.

The country's sports minister Fikile Mbalula intervened at that point and insisted on a third probe. It was this committee, chaired by Judge Chris Nicholson, which recommended that Majola be suspended and disciplined and that the board be overhauled to incorporate more independents. Mbalula gave his word that Nicholson's recommedations would be implemented in full and CSA had to co-operate.

Majola was suspended in March but various administrative delays led to his disciplinary hearing being postponed to October. He was dismissed in the same month. CSA have had an acting boss, Jacques Faul, since then and they will only look to appoint a new one after the board is restructured at the AGM.

Basson was not due to be part of the new board anyway. In his capacity as acting president, he would have had to step down. He was, however, due to continue as CSA's transformation head, an idea that sat uneasily with other board members. Given the latest revelations and Basson's involvement with the Apartheid government, they do not feel he is the correct person to lead the drive to involve more people of colour in the game.

Transformation has been under the microscope again because of the Test team's representation. The New Year's Test against New Zealand marked two years since a black African has played in whites for South Africa. It is a contentious issue because the race group makes up over 80% of the population and more than 40% of cricketers at all levels including club and school, according to the data CSA submitted to parliament.

The numbers are better in limited-overs matches. Aaron Phangiso and Lonwabo Tsotsobe were included in the ODI squad for the New Zealand series. One of the items on the agenda for the January 9 board meeting is transformation. After the Thami Tsolekile issue, a source close to CSA's board said they could be forced to legislate the number of black Africans who have to play at all levels because the development in that area has been unsatisfactory.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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