Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
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Cricket South Africa's board and senior executives including acting CEO Kugandrie Govender have been instructed to step aside by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), which is the controlling body for all high-performance sport in South Africa. SASCOC will now appoint a task team to conduct an investigation into the affairs at CSA. The panel will make findings and recommendations to SASCOC and CSA's Members' Council within one month of the finalisation of the members of the task team.
Along with Govender, company secretary Welsh Gwaza and acting chief commercial officer Thamie Mthembu will no longer be involved in the day-to-day running of CSA. That means that as things stand on Thursday evening, there is no one in charge of the operational running of cricket in South Africa.
CSA, in a statement issued on Friday morning said it "does not agree" with the decision and will be taking legal advice on "the basis on which SASCOC has sought to intervene in the business affairs of CSA." Despite that, CSA has committed to engaging with SASCOC to "find common ground with it in the best interests of cricket." CSA's Board and Members Council will hold a workshop this weekend to "discuss critical matters."
SASCOC took the decision unanimously at a board meeting on Tuesday because of what it said are "the many instances of maladministration and malpractice," at CSA which "has brought cricket into disrepute."
Whether SASCOC's action constitutes government interference that goes against the ICC's code of conduct is yet to be determined. The ICC have already received one complaint against CSA from the Institute for Race Relations who took issue with CSA's affirmative action hiring policy.
The SASCOC has taken action following "at least" nine months of CSA in crisis dating back to December last year, when former CEO Thabang Moroe was suspended. Moroe was fired last month on the basis of a forensic report which revealed "acts of serious misconduct."
However, CSA have not made the report available publicly or to SASCOC and even to its own Members' Council (the body of the 14 provincial presidents) are understood to have had to sign non-disclosure agreements before viewing the report. SASCOC had demanded to see the report before CSA's AGM, which was initially scheduled for September 5 but was postponed. CSA's inability to produce the report to SASCOC as well as the spate of recent resignations including that of President Chris Nenzani and acting CEO Jacques Faul prompted SASCOC's interest in further investigation into CSA, which it indicated had been uncooperative in explaining the myriad issues affecting the organisation.
"SASCOC has attempted to address these issues in two meetings with the CSA Board: one was exploratory, and the other failed to take place mainly because of the fact that CSA failed to make the Fundudzi Forensic Report available to the SASCOC Board despite promises and undertakings by CSA to do so," a SASCOC letter to CSA's Members' Council, seen by ESPNcricinfo said. "CSA is in receipt of our letter which records that the Board's decision to make the said report available only on a limited basis to the President and Board members of SASCOC, is wholly unreasonable and irrational given the apparent nature and scope of the report."
As a result of not being able to access the full report, a task team will now conduct its own investigations into CSA's administrative and/or financial affairs. The members of the task team are yet to be identified but when they are, the CSA board and all staff who have been directed to step aside will be expected to "assist the task team to execute its mandate, where necessary, when called upon to do so."
This leaves cricket in South Africa at an uncertain juncture, with no fixtures finalised for the coming season which is due to start imminently. Neither domestic nor international matches have been released with South Africa's borders still closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and a lockdown still in place. Though competitive matches can be played, CSA have yet to reveal any plans for the 2020-21 season apart from appointing a new high performance management staff earlier on Thursday.
As of now, this will not affect South African players' participation at the IPL or other competitions.