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EXPLAINER | Cricket SA on the brink of collapse, but how did we get here?

Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa.

Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa.

(Gallo Images/Jeffrey Abrahams)

  • With Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa having taken steps to enforce section 13 (5) of the Sports Act, Cricket SA stands at the precipice that is of the members’ council’s doing.
  • When the members’ council could not arrive at the 75 percent that was needed for the facilitation of a majority independent board, Mthethwa’s hand was forced.
  • CSA now stands on the brink of being de-recognised as a federation, which means they’ll lose their place at the ICC table.

And so, Cricket South Africa has finally arrived at the horrible destination they so wished to avoid, that of having their national colours and recognition stripped by Sports, Arts, and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa.

On Friday, Mthethwa notified CSA of his intention to strip them of their recognition through Section 13 (5) (A) of the National Sports and Recreation Act 110 of 1998.

Mthethwa was forced down this path after CSA’s members’ council could not get together the necessary 75 percent to amend the Memorandum of Incorporation for the facilitation of the election of a majority independent board at CSA’s Special General Meeting last week Saturday.

Mthethwa’s checkmate follows two previous threats to the members’ council that seemingly went unheeded last year when the previous board had to be forced to step down at the end of October.

There also was the instance where the members’ council did not want to ratify the appointment of the interim board.

Here’s an explainer of what has transpired and what will take place:

What is Section 13 (5) (a) of the National Sports and Recreation Act of 1998?

Section 13 (5) (a) is a clause in the act that allows for a sports minister to intervene in the affairs of an errant sporting body. The clause empowers the minister to intervene in the affairs of a sporting federation “in any dispute, alleged mismanagement, or any other related matter in sport or recreation that is likely to bring the sport or recreational activity into disrepute.”

When can the minister use it and why has he used it?

The minister can implement the act when he feels an offending organisation has failed to resolve the matters that are bringing it into disrepute. In CSA’s case, the minister has felt that CSA’s members’ council has deliberately failed to help the interim board establish a pathway to the election of a majority independent board along the lines of the Nicholson Recommendations of 2012. The minister appointed the interim board last year in order to fulfil this recommendation.

What does this mean for CSA?

This means CSA is at the mercy of Mthethwa, whose intervention can be in the form of stripping a federation of funding and recognition, which is what Mthethwa plans on doing by next week Friday. The loss of recognition means none of South Africa’s representative teams can play against international teams nor wear the Proteas badge.

How will it impact CSA’s employees?

The withdrawal of federationship could lead to the withdrawal of sponsorship and funding, which means salaries may not be paid and services may not be rendered. It can also impact standing broadcasting rights, which are the lifeblood of any cricketing organisation.

Who/what is the members’ council and how much power do they wield?

The members’ council is a 14-person governing body that is CSA’s highest decision-making body. All decisions have to come from this body with regards to mandates. The members are the 14 provincial presidents, from where their mandate is then carried forward to the board they have ratified. Seven of the members’ council members were part of the 12-person board that CSA had until the end of October last year.

Who/what is the interim board and what was their role in this matter?

The interim board was a nine-person, but now seven-person structure appointed by Mthethwa last year in order, among many things, to help with the facilitation and implementation of a majority independent board. They were working hand-in-hand with the members’ council with regards to the sorting of the MoI. That process was fraught with disagreements, but the bodies had seemingly arrived at a middle ground before last week’s failed special general meeting. The interim board also had its own issues as its previous chairperson Retired Justice Zak Yacoob left after a verbal altercation with a journalist while Omphile Ramela was removed from the board. Caroline Mampuru did not return to the board after the first extension in February.

Where does Sascoc fit into the puzzle?

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is the overarching sporting body that looks after the affairs of all the sporting bodies. The minister had initially roped in Sascoc to mediate in the matter last year, but they stated that they didn’t have the resources to do so. CSA’s members’ council had also rejected their advances last year, an action that drew Mthethwa into the fray. CSA interim board chairperson Stavros Nicolaou said Sascoc withdrew from the MoI process in February. Sascoc president Barry Hendricks, who was initially presented as a guest for last week’s meeting, then made a speech stating Sascoc’s role with regards to how federations must submit their constitutions. His speech came before the secret ballot.

How does the International Cricket Council (ICC) get drawn into this matter?

The ICC is the international governing body of cricket, of which CSA is a member. In the event of CSA’s recognition being withdrawn, CSA can no longer be a member. Article 2.4 (D) of the ICC’s Constitution states that each member must: “manage its affairs autonomously and ensure that there is no government (or other public or quasi-public body) interference in its governance, regulation and/or administration of Cricket in its Cricket Playing Country (including in operational matters, in the selection and management of teams, and in the appointment of coaches or support personnel).”

Mthethwa said he will be in contact with the ICC and when Sport24 approached the ICC for comment this week, their response was:

“The ICC encourages Members to work with governments to resolve issues. Not all government intervention is problematic and for the ICC to get involved it requires a formal complaint from our Members that it is unwanted. Should that happen we will evaluate the situation based on the facts provided and plan an appropriate course of action.”

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