South Africa’s Olympic body has tried to refute evidence that its self-imposed involvement in CSA’s affairs amounts to unacceptable interference – which could lead on the ICC to suspend the country’s national teams.
In a letter to the ICC dated Saturday, which Cricbuzz has seen, the acting president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), Aleck Skhosana, writes, “At no stage does or did SASCOC act under the direction or control of the minister of sport within the country [Nathi Mthethwa], or the govt of the republic of South Africa . Accordingly, SASCOC rejects any allegation or insinuation that the SASCOC intervention constitutes government interference.”
That directly contradicts a resolution taken at a SASCOC committee meeting on Monday, which states plainly: “The concerns with reference to the administration of the game within the country relate, inter-alia, to the subsequent problems with concern, namely…the directive by the minister of sport and recreation for SASCOC to intervene into the affairs of CSA.”
SASCOC isn’t a government organisation. But all of the country’s sport federations, including CSA, are compelled by law to be members of SASCOC and may be anesthetize administration by it. By law, no rivals to SASCOC are allowed. Thus, without SASCOC’s approval players and teams wouldn’t officially represent South Africa and will not compete wearing the Protea badge or national colours.
That cricket in South Africa is in trouble on almost every front is undeniable. But whether the ICC will accept SASCOC’s action as legitimate remains to be seen. The ICC constitution says a member is obliged to “manage its affairs autonomously and make sure that there’s 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, within the selection and management of teams, and within the appointment of coaches or support personnel)”.
So what’s perceived as interference doesn’t necessarily got to come expressly from government for an ICC member to be in water hot enough to prompt suspension.
The saga started on Thursday with a letter from SASCOC to CSA – which has been seen by Cricbuzz – which said that “the CSA board and people senior executives who serve ex-officio on the board (the company secretary, the acting CEO, the CFO and therefore the COO) are directed to step apart from the administration of CSA on full pay” pending the result of a month-long investigation by a yet to be named task team into “many instances of maladministration and malpractice that have occurred since a minimum of December 2019″.
There is little question that, under South African law, SASCOC have the facility to try to to what they need done, albeit the way during which they need done it’s going to yet be picked over by lawyers. But how have SASCOC not crossed the road drawn by the ICC?
CSA responded on Friday during a release that said it “does not accept as true with the resolution taken by SASCOC and has not had the chance to interact with SASCOC on various issues raised within the communication”, which “CSA is taking legal advice regarding the idea on which SASCOC has sought to intervene within the business affairs of CSA”. But CSA did “commit to engaging further with SASCOC to know its position and to seek out footing with it within the best interests of cricket”. CSA’s members council – its highest authority – and board are during a workshop this weekend to “discuss critical matters”.
Central to the impasse is that the report of a forensic investigation commissioned by the members council and which is assumed to implicate senior officials and staff in wrongdoing. Currently, access to the report is severely restricted – members council members are permitted to look at it at a lawyer’s office, but only after signing a non-disclosure agreement. In his letter to the ICC, Skhosana wrote, “CSA’s steadfast refusal to form the forensic report available is puzzling, because it appears that they’re unable to self-correct if the report isn’t made available, not only to its own members, but also to the media and therefore the public at large since it’s a public document.”
On the charge of interference, Skhosana wrote, “…we are quite prepared to satisfy with [the ICC], and discuss this issue with you and to offer you the reassurance that the SASCOC intervention may be a real plan to assist one among its members who clearly and desperately needs such assistance”. His claim that “SASCOC is ready to supply experts within the field of governance and administration to help therein regard” will shock South Africans who know of too many instances of shameful governance and shoddy administration at SASCOC.
But Skhosana did get something unimpeachably correct: “The public, players and ex-players, stakeholders, and sponsors have lost complete trust and confidence within the administration of cricket in South Africa .”