South Africa sports minister to intervene after CSA fails to agree on MOI
Sports minister Mthethwa can withdraw funding and no longer officially recognise CSA as the governing body of cricket
Cricket South Africa will face intervention from the country’s sports minister Nathi Mthethwa after failing to agree on a Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) that will set out the blueprint for a majority independent board. Mthethwa will use the National Sports and Recreation Act to step in, which gives him the right to – amongst other things – withdraw funding and no longer officially recognise CSA as the governing body of cricket.
That means that CSA would not longer legally be able to run cricket in this country and the national men’s, women’s and age-group teams will not be allowed to wear the Protea badge or claim to represent South Africa in international competition. In real terms, it could impact South Africa’s schedule, which is currently scant but should next see a men’s tour to the West Indies in June.
With CSA on the brink of a renegotiation of its television rights deal with pay provider SuperSport, it also means that any action Mthethwa takes could impact severely on the willingness of broadcasters to engage with CSA and therefore on the game’s long-term finances.
However, whether Mthethwa’s steps will be that drastic are not known yet at this stage. In a statement on Sunday morning, his office said he “will be taking the necessary steps required to exercise his rights in terms of the law prescripts next week”.
Mthethwa’s next moves may also cause complications at the ICC if his actions are viewed as government intervention. In 2018, when Zimbabwe’s Sports and Recreation Commissions dissolved the Zimbabwe Cricket board, ZC had lodged a complaint of interference with the ICC but were suspended until the government sanction was lifted. Whether CSA will do similar is not known, although Mthethwa has previously written to the ICC explaining the need for an intervention and making a case for it not to be considered in contravention of the ICC’s code.
That was in in October last year, and since then, Mthethwa has imposed an interim board on CSA, who were tasked with stabilising governance structures. The interim board has overseen the suspensions of several senior staff members who are undergoing disciplinary procedures and the restructure of South Africa’s domestic game, but have been unable to get the Members’ Council to agree to a majority independent board despite indications that they were being swayed. On April 10, the Members’ Council issued a statement saying they had come to an agreement with the interim board on the MOI as well as agreed with an independent board, but at a Special General Meeting on Saturday, only six of the 14 members voted that way, with five voting against and three abstentions.
That meant the MOI, with the framework for a majority independent board, could not be established. The Members’ Council are reluctant to agree to a majority independent board even though it had agreed to do so as far back as 2012 in the aftermath of the 2012 bonus scandal, ostensibly because they want cricket to be run by only people involved in cricket structures, rather than by business people from the outside. CSA have been embroiled in administrative issues for the last 18 months and have rotated through three different acting CEOs following the suspension and subsequent dismissal of Thabang Moroe for misconduct.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent