- Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) transformation head, Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw, found herself in hot water on Wednesday.
- The organisation is fighting for its independence as Sascoc looks to intervene in cricket’s governance.
- CSA’s AGM, scheduled for September 5, was postponed.
Another day, another easily avoidable horror show at Cricket South Africa.
The organisation is currently walking the most delicate of tightropes, trying with what is left of its collective might to convince government that, contrary to all available evidence and logic, it is able to get its house in order without intervention.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), with its own well-documented past of alleged maladministration, is now a major player in a sport that has been effectively fighting for survival since December 2019 when then-CEO Thabang Moroe was suspended.
Sascoc is moving to assemble a task team that will sideline CSA’s current administration and, as they would have us believe, then nurse the organisation back to health.
For both Cricket South Africa and cricket in South Africa – the one seemingly has little to do with the other – these are the most worrying of times.
It took over nine months for Moroe to be officially dismissed, but the end of that nauseatingly long saga has not in any way detracted from a CSA leadership that remains torn, segregated and, effectively, broken.
In December 2019, during a period that many consider to be one of the darkest in South African cricket history, sponsors began re-evaluating their commitment to South African cricket.
Standard Bank, citing concerns over the state of the administration, announced that they would not be renewing their sponsorship of Proteas cricket and a deal that netted CSA something in the region of R100 million per annum was lost.
There was then a hint of stability in the form of acting CEO Jacques Faul, post-Moroe, where CSA’s fractured relationship with the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) was mended and promising strides, administratively and commercially, were made.
In recent weeks, however, the wheels have started to come off in spectacular, December 2019-like fashion.
Around that forgettable period last year, another key CSA sponsor – Momentum – had expressed grave concern over the state of the CSA leadership. The financial services company, a CSA sponsor since 2012, ultimately stayed committed to the cause but called for the resignation of then-president Chris Nenzani and the entire CSA board while also seeking an independent forensic report into the financial affairs of CSA.
On Tuesday, over nine months later, Momentum confirmed that it would not be renewing its sponsorship of one day cricket – at international and domestic level – after its contract with CSA expires at the end of April next year.
Given the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the current state of uncertainty at CSA, it is another major blow to an organisation that is hanging on by a thread.
CSA’s September 5 AGM was last month postponed, partly because the members’ council – the provincial heads responsible for voting in the CSA board – had not yet seen the Fundudzi forensic report that had investigated the administrative ongoings at CSA under Moroe.
Before the postponement of the AGM, Faul and Nenzani had suddenly resigned from their respective roles ahead of schedule with Kugandrie Govender coming in as acting CEO and Beresford Williams named acting president.
Another major issue facing the organisation over this unstable period has been its response to a passionate Black Lives Matter movement that has seen former players come forward with stories of alleged injustice and exclusion in South African cricket.
CSA has thus been thrust into the South African sporting spotlight under a cloud of a perceived lack of transformation, not helped by the fact that Faul, director of cricket Graeme Smith, Proteas head coach Mark Boucher and coaching consultants Jacques Kallis and Paul Harris were all announced within weeks of each other ahead of last summer’s England visit.
Govender, immediately after being unveiled last month, rightly acknowledged these transformation issues as a priority of her leadership while she also spoke of a need to nurture the relationship with the Department of Sport in that regard.
Govender then told Sport24 back on September 1 that CSA would only be hiring black coaching consultants in an effort to speed up that transformation process, with the organisation later backtracking on that stance.
It was a messy situation that could have been avoided had the CSA leadership acted quickly in clarifying and presenting a united, transparent stance on exactly what their commitments were.
Sascoc then announced last week that it would be assembling a task team to investigate the running of CSA as things took another turn for the worse.
As poorly as this CSA administration may be performing, things could become even more dire if the game moves into the hands of Sascoc or government.
That, now, is CSA’s most pressing fight and there is all of a sudden a sense of urgency in proving that things are under control.
The findings of the forensic report have since been disclosed to the members’ council, where CSA says “robust” conversations were had, and there has also been engagement with Sascoc in what is looking an increasingly desperate plea for another chance.
Given the vulnerability of the current situation, it was then almost unfathomable that, late on Tuesday night, independent director and head of CSA’s transformation committee Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw took to Twitter to take a public, almost threatening swipe at Momentum following their decision to pull their sponsorship.
“Momentum forgets that we invest hundreds of million in Momentum in our SOE investments and pension funds. I remember asking for the BBBEE certificate in my other board. Just check before you make an irrational decision,” she tweeted.
What Kula-Ameyaw had “forgotten”, however, was that Momentum had that very day publicly committed to sponsoring the women’s national side until 2023.
On Wednesday, CSA through Williams publicly apologised to Momentum and insisted that Kula-Ameyaw – not known to anybody in the South African cricket community before arriving on the scene in such an influential position – would sit before the social and ethics committee and face potential disciplinary action.
The kicker? Kula-Ameyaw sits on that very committee.
The point, though, is that even when it is at its most desperate, CSA has found a way to shoot itself in the foot yet again when there was absolutely no need to do so.
Kula-Ameyaw’s public bashing of a sponsor that has for years pumped significant revenue into the game and CSA, long before she was ever on the scene, was amateurish and also indicative of a governing body that is not tuned in to the South African cricketing space.
The irony, of course, is that Kula-Ameyaw has justified Momentum’s decision.
In pulling out of the ODI sponsorship, Momentum had said that it was “not satisfied with the current state of affairs at CSA regarding governance and other reputational issues.”
Kula-Ameyaw’s actions make it very difficult to argue with that.
To their credit, CSA were quick to reprimand Kula-Ameyaw publicly on Wednesday and that accountability is no doubt crucial in mapping the way forward.
The worry, though, is that this new-found urgency to self-correct could be a case of far too little, far too late.
Lloyd Burnard is the editor of Sport24, an award-winning sports journalist and author of ‘Miracle Men: How Rassie’s Springboks won the World Cup’.
Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.