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News Analysis

Make South African cricket great again, and other items on the interim CSA board's agenda

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa calls for transparency, wants quick results from the new panel

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Interim CSA board 'whatever is necessary' to fix the problems in South African cricket, according to Nathi Mthethwa

Interim CSA board 'whatever is necessary' to fix the problems in South African cricket, according to Nathi Mthethwa  •  Gallo Images/Getty Images

South African sports minister Nathi Mthethwa has given Cricket South Africa's nine-member interim board the mandate to do "whatever is necessary and appropriate to restore the reputation" of the organisation. Within that wide remit, there are four pressing matters for the board to attend to. We break these down for you.
Analyse and act on the forensic report used to fire former CEO Thabang Moroe
South African cricket's best-kept secret is this document, which has only been seen by three former CSA independent board directors and Mthethwa, and which can only be viewed by those willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement. A summary released by CSA did reveal some of the contents of the report, including financial misconduct on the part of Moroe, and implicated several former board members including Beresford Williams, acting president till the other day.
Mthethwa wants the interim board to study the report and act on it, including taking any actions against parties who are proven guilty of wrongdoing, and he also wants the report to be made available more widely.
"This thing that you have a report that is a secret document must come to an end," Mthethwa said. "It be a document which must be understood and scrutinised; implement what the recommendations are but be at liberty to look at the report itself, critically so, so that there is nothing which is an area you can't get into."
Implementation of the 2012 Nicholson Report
Eight years ago, when Gerald Majola was investigated and then sacked after being found guilty on nine charges at a disciplinary hearing around the awarding of bonuses during the 2009 IPL, which was held in South Africa because of the Indian general elections, judge Chris Nicholson compiled a report which made recommendations including about how CSA should constitute its board. Nicholson suggested the board be made up of as many independent directors as non-independents (people from within the members' council) and that the chairperson be independent too. To date, CSA has not implemented this. Instead, it had a board made up of a majority of non-independent directors and a president chosen from that, and a minority of independents. Part of the reason CSA did that was to please the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), which did not approve of a majority of independent directors.
Now that Mthethwa has taken over the case of CSA from SASCOC, he has insisted that the Nicholson recommendations are put in place. Therefore, the job of the interim board is likely to be to determine a process by which the permanent board will be appointed, bearing in mind the Nicholson report's criteria.
Review board decisions taken since 2019
Although the summary of the forensic report that was used to fire Moroe indicated that many of Moroe's actions, especially with regard to deals over the Mzansi Super League, were undertaken without the board's knowledge, the board made several of its own decisions which Mthethwa wants the interim structure to look into.
"This team is going to look into everything, including the decisions that were taken by the board that resigned," he said. That would include things like the firing of five members of staff other than Moroe - which includes former COO Naasai Appiah, former head of sales and commercial Clive Eksteen, both of whom are fighting their dismissals in court - and decisions over the structure of cricket operations and the domestic game.
Make South African cricket great again
Strictly speaking, this is the job of the executive (the CEO, acting in this case, and those who work in the office) and the players, but the board is responsible for making sure that the right things get done. In the last year, CSA has attracted "public criticism around how (it) has conducted its affairs, particularly in the areas of leadership, governance, transformation, selection of teams and so on from various interest groups within and outside of cricket", as Mtethwa pointed out, it has lost sponsors and will be on the back foot when negotiations for a new broadcast deal begin. CSA's deal with pay-television channel SuperSport ends in April next year, by which time the performance of the national teams over the summer will play a role in determining whether the organisation has a strong product to bargain with. The more competitive the teams are, the better the deal CSA can get, and although team form is not in their control, creating an environment that is suitable for growth is.
Last summer, South Africa lurched through a string of poor results in India and at home as massive uncertainty shrouded the organisation. A more stable structure may help support stronger results and the rebuilding of a team that used to be on top of the Test rankings and still has unfulfilled ambitions of hoisting a World Cup.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent