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OPINION: All options should be on the table during Cricket SA AGM

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CSA’s next annual general meeting needs to be about much more than electing new board members and announcing financial results.

Omphile Ramela. Picture: Chris Ricco

CRICKET South Africa’s annual general meeting set for September 5 needs to be about much more than electing new board members and announcing the financial results for the last year.

The AGM must address fundamental restructuring of CSA’s administration because the federation badly needs it. Just carrying on as if nothing has happened in the decade since Chris Nicholson’s report was made public won’t be sufficient.

CSA stuffed up the opportunity Nicholson gave it in the wake of the bonus scandal – which happened more than 10 years ago. The organisation has been beset with problems, most of its own making, because of greed, incompetence and administrators playing petty politics for which they are ill-equipped.

It didn’t help that, post Nicholson, in an attempt to dilute some of his recommendations, they followed advice from Sascoc, a body so flawed and with corrupt leadership it too faced a government sanctioned commission of inquiry and now needs an International Olympic Committee official to help it hold elections.

What CSA needs to do at its AGM is change the administrative structure. There is no need for seven representatives of the Members Council – CSA’s highest decision making body, which is made up of the 14 provincial presidents including CSA’s president and vice president – to sit on CSA’s Board of Directors. Currently the Board comprises 12 people – those seven Members Council reps – including the president and vice president – and five independent directors, four of whom have served on the board for less than a year.

That the seven non-independent directors also comprise half of the Members Council, means there is little difference between those two bodies. So when Chris Nenzani said three weeks ago that the Board was mandating the Members Council to assume control for the independent forensic audit regarding Thabang Moroe, it was the majority of the Board – now with their Members Council hats on – who drew up the terms of reference for the investigators. That is a structural weakness that is incredibly harmful to Cricket SA.

Beresford Williams (vice president), Chris Nenzani (President), Thabang Moroe (CEO) and Naasei Appiah during the 2019 CSA AGM. BackpagePix

Three of the non-independent directors, including the president, will not be eligible for re-election at the AGM this year.

It’s a pretty good time to make some changes.

For instance, reduce the size of the Board of Directors from 12 to 10 – have just three Members Council representatives. Then add an eminent former player (preferably someone from the post isolation era; Shaun Pollock, Gary Kirsten, JP Duminy or Andrew Hudson for example) along with a representative from the SA Cricketers Association. Someone like Saca’s president Omphile Ramela would be an ideal candidate – he certainly knows a hell of a lot more about the game in South Africa in the 21st century than do many of the current non-independent directors.

There needs to be more of that ‘player’ knowledge on the Board, to help in formulating plans that are pertinent to the game as it exists in this country and around the world.

There may be those criticising why the need for a union representative on the board – ‘it’s just not the way businesses work’ – to which the answer would be: the Covid-19 pandemic has shown businesses haven’t been working properly before because if they did, so many people would not have been left unemployed just weeks into a lockdown.

My proposals aren’t even that radical, but the need for change at CSA’s administrative level is.

In trying to understand how best to restart international cricket, CSA’s Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, said recently that all options are on the table. That same kind of thinking needs to be applied to how Cricket SA administers the game – all options should be on the table.