The ICC has been given notice that South Africa's minister of sport, Nathi Mthethwa, intends to intervene in Cricket South Africa (CSA) after failing to see progress in the organisation's attempts to stabilise its governance.
Mthethwa can act according to the country's National Sport and Recreation Act, which gives him the power to intervene "in any dispute, alleged mismanagement or other related matter that is likely to bring a sport into disrepute." Besides, if the federation does not comply with the ministerial directive, he has the power to take away funding and to no longer recognise them as a national federation. The minister has given CSA until October 27 to make a case to keep him out of their affairs.
Mthethwa's action comes after CSA ignored the instruction by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), the umbrella-body under which all the country's sports federations operate, for their board and executive to step aside while an investigation into CSA's financial and governance affairs took place. CSA also did not allow SASCOC unrestricted access to their forensic report, which was used to fire former CEO Thabang Moroe, and wanted SASCOC board members to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) which they refused to do.
CSA has made the full report available to the minister and the parliamentary portfolio committee, who questioned CSA over the report on Tuesday. The session yielded "negative outcomes", according to a statement by Mthethwa, who has seen no alternative but to take matters into his own hands.
"Having evaluated the discussions as well as the subsequent reporting on this matter, I have now reached a point where I see no value in any further engagement with CSA," Mthethwa said, in a statement issued on Wednesday morning.
However, Mthethwa's statement stressed that he would prefer not to get involved and wants to provide CSA with the chance to sort their problems out themselves. "Minister Mthethwa strongly believes that there is great merit in creating an environment where sports problems are handled within the sports movement and accordingly wishes to offer them every possible opportunity to demonstrate their stated commitment to cooperate on a way forward for cricket," the statement read.
That is important, especially when dealing with the ICC, which forbids government interference in its members. Last month, SASCOC wrote to the ICC explaining that their action did not constitute government interference because they are an independent - albeit legislatively-created body - and were not acting under ministerial directive even though they had passed a resolution indicating that they were.
The National Sports and Recreation Act requires that SASCOC is the first port of call in a dispute or alleged mismanagement in any sports federation and the minister may only step-in if SASCOC fails to resolve the issue. Two weeks back, SASCOC indicated they were not making progress and asked the minister to step-in.
"When the SASCOC initiative yielded no positive results, the Minister personally held several meetings with the CSA Board and also met with the Members Council," the statement read. The most recent meeting between the minister and CSA took place on Monday. CSA were hopeful they would obtain permission from the minister to host England for a "critically important" white-ball series in November-December but appear to only have angered Mthethwa while the tour remains uncertain.
The United Kingdom is on South Africa's list of high-risk countries and travellers from there need to apply for permission to enter South Africa, whose borders opened in limited capacity only on October 1.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent