JOHANNESBURG – It is over a month since Cricket South Africa’s president promised action would be taken against the organisation’s suspended chief executive, and the continuing absence of any findings based on the forensic audit into Thabang Moroe’s conduct is like a noose around the neck of the sport.
Cricket SA simply can’t move forward on finding resolutions to a plethora of problems besetting the sport while nothing is seen to be done about Moroe. The Moroe investigation has dragged on for nine months, during which time CSA has paid the salaries of two chief executives – Moroe and Jacques Faul, roped in to perform the duties in an acting capacity last December – and hired a PR firm to help with reputational damage, all while a volcano about transformation has erupted.
It is a sport in crisis.
While all this money is being dished out, Cricket SA is in deep financial strife. ‘Project 654’ – the plan to alleviate projected losses of R654 million by the end of the 2022 financial year – hasn’t magically disappeared. Provincial unions will have their budgets cut next summer, which will impact on job security and coaches’ and players’ salaries.
The worst of the economic effects of the government’s Covid-19 lockdown didn’t hit the sport initially, but it is still facing a financial disaster over the next 18 to 24 months that may lead to bankruptcy. Foreign TV deals are critical for CSA – because they are paid in US dollars, but that revenue stream risks drying up if the Proteas men’s team, which has struggled in the last two years, isn’t an attractive enough option for foreign broadcasters.
Meanwhile a local broadcast deal – with SuperSport – expires next May, and there has been little movement on negotiating the next contract which will be a vital source of income for CSA.
Amidst the anguish unleashed by the transformation eruption that has rocked the organisation and more broadly the sport in this country, the forensic audit into Moroe and by extension the Board of Directors – especially those provincial union presidents serving on it – has taken a back seat. It patently shouldn’t, because only in dealing with that can CSA start to resolve the financial crisis it faces and the transformation failures that have been highlighted.
Cricket SA is a very poorly administered organisation. It is rotten and how deep that rot runs is something many hope the forensic audit will make clear.
Given its importance, the players, the public, CSA’s commercial partners and even the government wanted the audit and the implementation of its recommendations to be handled expeditiously. Cricket SA’s president, Chris Nenzani, also said that would be the case. Yet more than a month after he first told the media and then the parliamentary portfolio committee responsible for sport that actions pertaining to the report would be taken quickly, CSA is dragging its feet.
“As far as the forensic report is concerned, CSA is busy with its internal processes and once these stages have been satisfied, the Board will then pronounce on the relevant aspects of the report, as the Board may deem it necessary and only once all of the internal due stakeholders have been engaged,” Cricket SA’s company secretary Welsh Gwaza said on Friday.
Gwaza, appointed when Moroe was chief executive, has been the subject of intense chatter in South African cricket circles in the last few weeks, with many claiming he is a candidate to take over from Faul as chief executive when Faul returns to the Northerns Cricket Union after CSA’s Annual General Meeting which is scheduled for September 5.
Gwaza denied being approached for the chief executive position, adding later that he’d received “no further additional mandate,” beyond his role as company secretary. Gwaza’s critics point to the ham-fisted ways in which some of CSA’s legal problems have been dealt with in the last 18 months – from the decision that the Western Province Cricket Association won against the mother body, to the disciplinary processes against three senior staff members, one of which has seen Corrie van Zyl return to work at CSA, another which has seen former chief operating officer, Nassei Appiah, haul CSA before the Labour Court, and the other seeing Clive Eksteen take CSA to the CCMA.
Thus far only one CSA board member, Tebogo Siko, the Northerns Cricket Union president, has spoken out about the report, calling for it to be released to the provincial affiliates in full. Siko, it should be noted, has been nominated for the CSA presidency, a position Nenzani will vacate at the AGM after seven years.
Director of Cricket Graeme Smith is the other senior official who has publicly called for the forensic report to be released and acted upon. “Everywhere I go, that’s all I’m asked about, whether it’s players, the media, or just people in the street – they all want to know where these reports are. That uncertainty is not good,” Smith said a week ago.
That uncertainty breeds mistrust. Who can trust anyone at CSA to deal properly with transformation starting with its Social Justice and Nation building strategy, when it drags its feet on its suspended chief executive, possibly other management staff who assisted him or even the Board that supposedly had oversight of him? The same goes for sponsors and commercial partners who are understood to be extremely concerned by CSA’s failure to act on Moroe, despite Nenzani’s promises to do so.
All of this is interlinked. Choking has been a term cruelly attached to the men’s national team over its failures at ICC tournaments, but right now, CSA is choking on a controversy all of its own creation. The asphyxiation has paralysed it and only through releasing that report and acting upon it in an honest and open manner, will the noose be loosened.