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CSA won't investigate Smith, Boucher appointments

Boucher will still face a disciplinary hearing in May over charges of gross misconduct

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher played 257 international games alongside each other for South Africa  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher played 257 international games alongside each other for South Africa  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Cricket South Africa are unlikely to take further action on the manner in which Director of Cricket (DOC) Graeme Smith and men's head coach Mark Boucher were appointed despite the Social Justice and Nation-Building report citing irregularities in their hiring. Speaking to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture, CSA board chair Lawson Naidoo explained that because Smith and Boucher's appointments were rubber-stamped by the previous board, no further investigation will be undertaken.
Boucher will still face a disciplinary hearing in May over charges of gross misconduct, while Smith is in arbitration with CSA over other matters raised at the SJN.
"The DOC and head coach were appointed in December 2019 under the previous board. It is clear from the (SJN) report that there were irregularities in those processes. Those appointments were subsequently endorsed and ratified by the then board. Our hands are tied in terms of those processes," Naidoo said.
Smith was approached for the job of DOC in August 2019, by former CSA CEO Thabang Moroe, who has since been dismissed. He was interviewed in November that year but withdrew his interest in the job five days later, citing lack of confidence in CSA's administration. When Moroe was suspended in December 2019, Smith was appointed in interim capacity for three months before signing on as an independent contractor over the last two years. His contract expires at the end of March. The SJN found that the process of headhunting Smith despite other candidates being interviewed was flawed, but CSA's previous board approved this process so no further action can be taken.
Part of Smith's remit was to appoint South Africa's head coach and support staff. All the candidates were headhunted with Boucher contracted until 2023 alongside Charl Langeveldt (bowling coach) and Justin Ontong (fielding coach). Enoch Nkwe, who was interim team director at the time, was named assistant coach and resigned last year. CSA's previous board approved all these appointments. The SJN report has found fault with Boucher being preferred to Nkwe and called it unfair discrimination, but no mention was made of Langeveldt or Ontong. It appears that none of these processes will be further investigated.
However, CSA will continue with the disciplinary action against Boucher, whose dismissal they are seeking over current and historical handling of issues of race. Boucher faces charges over his role in singing a song with the words "brown s***" in fines' meetings to team-mate Paul Adams in the late 1990s and early 2000s, his handling of the Black Lives Matter movement with the current squad in 2020 and 2021 and his relationship with Nkwe. Boucher's hearing will take place from May 16 to 20 and he intends to call players involved in the national set-up to testify on his behalf. There has been no announcement on any disciplinary process involving Smith.
Asked by MPs why Boucher and Smith have not been suspended, Naidoo explained that CSA acted on legal advice. "It's important to state, and this applies to all the legal processes we are involved in, we will follow due process. I can assure the portfolio committee that the board took legal advice on whether that (suspension) was possible and we received the legal opinion from two senior lawyers," Naidoo said. "They advised us that there was no legal basis to suspend Mark Boucher and Graeme Smith. The board took a unanimous decision not to suspend because it would open us up to unnecessary litigation."
Already, CSA have spent R50 million (US$3.2 million) in legal fees over the last two years. A significant portion of that could have gone into sorting out disciplinary matters. CSA have dismissed former CEO Moroe, former acting CEO Kugandrie Govender, former company secretary Welsh Gwaza, former head of commercial Clive Eksteen and former chief operating officer Naasei Appiah. Most of those cases went to appeals, resulting in a more drawn out process, Eksteen winning against CSA before parting ways and Appiah settling. The sports ministry criticised the costs of ongoing litigation at the organisation. "The department takes a dim view of the money directed away from programs for legal fees," Vusumuzi Mkhize, the director general of the department of sport said. "We prefer settling outside of court."
Mkize was also asked about the department's view of the Boucher situation, especially because Boucher is continuing in his role as head coach. "That is not a ministerial responsibility. The minister may not deal with employees of the board unless there has been a clear breakdown of governance," he said. "We encourage them to move with speed."
The same applies to the CSA's inability to appoint a permanent CEO, which has dragged on for months. The new board, who were put in place in June, have said it is their "priority," to fill the role currently occupied by Pholetsi Moseki, but are yet to find a suitable candidate.
"In August last year we placed a public advertisement for the CEO and engaged the services of a recruitment company. We received a shortlist of candidates and interviewed them but we were unable to conclude an agreement to appoint anyone at that stage," Naidoo said. "We have since embarked on a further process with the services of a separate recruitment company. We hope to make an announcement in the next few weeks. We are cognisant that this is the priority of the board. It is a process the board is giving due attention to."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent