Sick and tired as I have become writing endless stories about failed, self-serving administrators, too many good ‘cricket people’ have urged me not to stop until the game’s boardroom landscape is clear. Sadly, that will take years.
For those who believed Cricket South Africa had achieved a landmark breakthrough with the Members Council agreement to the institution of a majority independent board of directors, let’s be quite clear about one important point: they didn’t.
Of the 14 provincial presidents who constitute the MC, only seven voted in favour of a change to CSA’s constitution to allow the majority of the new board to be independent, including its chairman. Five voted against the changes and two abstained.
Five men embedded in the administration of the game cared so little about the prospect of CSA having its affiliation to the ICC revoked and the Proteas suspended from international competition, that they effectively voted for it. Two more were so indifferent to the consequences of such action that they chose not to exercise their votes.
If and when CSA’s MOI is amended to permit the inclusion of acceptable governance practises, it will effectively be by default. Not only did the provincial presidents initially vote 8:6 against the changes, they attempted to have a paragraph included in the new, draft MOI which stipulated that they, the Members Council, would have control over the appointment of the independent directors. The same (mostly) men who made such a mess of the game believed they were best placed to appoint the people expected to clean it up.
They also believed that one of them should be enshrined as the chair of the board, even if they agreed to a majority of independent directors. When self-preservation is the overwhelming motivation in business, there are no limits to the demands that can, and will be made.
Cricket South Africa has been involved in a seedy street-fight for over three years. The last six months has been the ugliest. In the place of chains, knives and broken bottles, there have been lies and an abundance of attempted deceit. And one especially cheap and professionally compromised media campaign by a former member of the executive during which confidential information regarding everything from personal contracts to details of internal hearings – from years ago – has been handed out to one willing and keen journalist.
Nobody should rule out another last-gasp attempt to derail the appointment of an independent board. Remember, there are five people who were prepared to see South Africa thrown out of international cricket – and another two were unwilling to vote against it.
The street-fight has now moved into a formal boxing ring in which, hopefully, some rules will apply. Those intent on fighting for their perks and privileges will be required to obey certain rules and regulations. A nominations and appointments committee will be established to oversee the suitability of independent directors in future. Nobody should be able to unilaterally shoe-horn their preferred, compliant candidate into a seat on the board.
Everything depends on the composition of that committee. One member of the current Interim Board, yet to be named, will sit on the committee. The Interim Board has worked tirelessly and selflessly and, in some cases, without material reward or compensation for six months and has shown itself committed to the improvement of both the organisation and the game. Once those members who were motivated by personal ambition and MC subservience had been removed.
The first IB chairman, retired judge Zac Yaqoob, was required to stand down after using loose and inappropriate language towards the hitherto mentioned journalist. In a long and distinguished legal career, culminating in more than a decade on the bench of the Constitutional Court, Judge Yaqoob was renown for both the sharpness and accuracy of his comments.
He presided over cases of personal and corporate injustice which make a mockery of ‘mere’ sport. Yet it was the sordid butchery of the game and business of cricket and the Machiavellian behaviour of its so-called custodians which pushed him to speak his mind, robustly, to a young man he knew was merely the messenger for the toxic content from a vile, corrupt ‘non-cricket’ person.
Cricket in South Africa was much the poorer for the Judge’s demise on the Interim Board. But his brilliance was clearly undiminished while he was in charge and there was not a shadow of doubt about his passion and care for the game and its future.
The good news is that there are many, many qualified people in the country who love and care and about cricket and will do everything in their power to do so in a directorial position without concern for personal thanks, never mind reward.
There would be few, if any, better names at the top of the list that Zac Yaqoob.
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