OPINION: Cricket SA cannot afford silent, self-serving leadership in these desperate times, Newsline

JOHANNESBURG – The weakness of the current administrative leadership of Cricket South Africa was there for all to see last Tuesday.

These people who claim to serve the game, care for it and apparently want the best for it. They have strong-armed their way to the top of CSA’s administrative tree but when asked to explain themselves, they remained silent, or in the case of wannabe president, Beresford Williams, threw the ball to someone else.

Cricket SA’s appearance before parliament’s portfolio committee for sport, art and culture was a horror show for Williams, the acting CEO, Kugandrie Govender and the company secretary Welsh Gwaza.

They came with an agenda, one part was related to governance. At the top of that portion of CSA’s was the following question: “Where is CSA on that process and what are the stumbling blocks into implementing recommendations made by the Nicholson Commission?” CSA’s attempt at answering that question started thus: “CSA is will be (sic) consulting with critical stakeholders regarding the adoption of some of the Nicholson recommendations.”

That’s right, “CSA is will be.” It’s a small error, an innocent one, that everyone who writes reports makes, but in the case of Cricket South Africa it’s a statement reflecting the state of sheer chaos the organisation is in, and how the leadership just can’t get to grips with the details, especially when those details don’t involve saving their own skin.

OPINION: Cricket SA cannot afford silent, self-serving leadership in these desperate times, Newsline
CSA acting CEO Kugandrie Govender. Photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

It is clear that Williams, Govender and Gwaza don’t care for Cricket South Africa and the sport in general in this country. The committee chair Beauty Dlulane told them as much. “The players are the ones who are suffering,” she said.

Williams, Govender and Gwaza were silent – and their silence spoke volumes. Williams asked Marius Schoeman, who has served as an independent director for a little more than a year to speak. Schoeman spoke more than any other CSA official and it was his statement that he would resign if the full forensic report wasn’t given to the committee, which was the most profound position taken by any CSA official in the last few months.

The full 468-page report along with attachments was delivered to the committee on Friday afternoon. Schoeman was willing to put his neck on the line for South African cricket. Williams wasn’t. Nor were Govender or Gwaza willing to do so.

Govender has preferred telling people how much she cares for the sport. But word and deed are very far apart in her case. Her silence on Tuesday illustrated perhaps how far out of her depth she is in this current job, which fell into her lap when Jacques Faul resigned a month before his short term contract was supposed to end.

OPINION: Cricket SA cannot afford silent, self-serving leadership in these desperate times, Newsline
Parliament’s portfolio committee for sport, art and culture chairperson Beauty Dlulane. Photo: Lulama Zenzile

Gwaza is widely viewed within CSA’s administrative circles as the most powerful figure within the organisation. Despite numerous enquiries he has still not revealed why, following Faul and Chris Nenzani’s resignations in August, he wrote a letter to CSA’s partners telling them to contact him if they had any concerns about CSA.

It is also Gwaza, who used to work for Bowman Gilfillan, CSA’s current lawyers, who has somehow gotten the board to approve the advertisement of posts for legal advisor and a PA for his office at a time when CSA is attempting to cut costs. The domestic fixtures released on Friday, which illustrated a reduced schedule for the coming season are a direct result of the belt tightening CSA has to do given the Covid-19 lockdown, the loss of sponsors and the inability to find new ones. Those belt tightening measures don’t seem to affect Gwaza, however.

And yet, while his name is barely mentioned in the summary of the forensic report released last Monday, his overall influence can be felt throughout. That a company secretary could not prevent that many alleged breaches of the Companies Act of which Moroe is accused, illustrates a company secretary that isn’t very good at his job.

That Gwaza has also overseen a period in which Cricket SA has endured a litany of legal matters and a breakdown of trust amongst provincial affiliates, again speaks to a failure on his part to do his job properly. Yet he remains firmly in position, and is driving the process to have the Memorandum of Incorporation changed so that CSA can forge ahead with an AGM on December 5.

How much did Gwaza say in the meeting with the portfolio committee? He didn’t utter a word.

That is the kind of leadership Cricket SA has at the moment. Board room bullies – ask them for plans for playing cricket again, or getting tours restarted – something absolutely vital for the future of the game in this country – and all one hears are crickets.

It’s a desperate time for Cricket SA and silent, self-serving leadership is not what it can afford.