South African cricket faces its ‘greatest crisis’

The government exercises its power to intervene in the running of the federation

Published - April 24, 2021 01:20 am IST - Cape Town

The South African government exercised its power to intervene in the running of the country’s troubled cricket federation on Friday, leaving the federation to face its “greatest crisis” since the end of apartheid.

Cricket South Africa’s interim board said it had received notice from sports minister Nathi Mthethwa that he had invoked a section of law allowing the government to take decisions out of the hands of sports officials when disputes can’t be resolved.

The move threatens South Africa’s teams as the International Cricket Council does not allow governments to interfere in national cricket bodies. The ICC has previously banned countries from international competitions when that happens.

The ICC said on Friday it had not received a complaint from Cricket South Africa over government interference.

Complex situation

The situation with Cricket South Africa is complex, though, with the government and CSA’s interim board effectively working together against a third body, the decision-making members’ council of the CSA.

The latest dispute relates to the refusal by the members' council at a special meeting last weekend to approve a new constitution for CSA that would have given its board an independent chairman and a majority of independent members. The government and interim board are both pushing for the reforms.

The members' council, often criticised as antiquated, is made up of the 14 presidents of South Africa’s provincial cricket unions.

They rejected the changes in a secret vote where a 75% majority was required. Six members voted for the changes, but five voted against and three abstained, stalling a months-long process of rebuilding South African cricket’s shattered reputation.

That setback led to the sports minister taking control.

Deeply disappointing

“It is deeply disappointing that a self-interested vocal minority voted against change while three members chose to abstain,” CSA’s interim board said of the failed vote.

“These actions have now brought the game to its knees and will cause the greatest crisis since (South Africa's international) readmission.” CSA’s troubles date back years but reached tipping point last year when chief executive Thabang Moroe and other officials were fired for misconduct and an investigation showed how the previous board had failed in its duties.

Since then, the CSA president and a stand-in chief executive have quit, and a second stand-in chief executive was suspended for alleged misconduct.

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