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CSA shirk players' calls for independent probes

01 November 2019 - 15:02 By Telford Vice
Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe speaks during the World Cup squad announcement in Johannesburg on April 18 2019.
Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe speaks during the World Cup squad announcement in Johannesburg on April 18 2019.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Cricket South Africa (CSA) have rejected calls from the game’s most important sector to launch independent investigations into some of the crises that have hit the organisation.

Instead‚ with the start of the second edition of their flagship tournament‚ the Mzansi Super League (MSL)‚ just a week away CSA are trying to project a picture of normality — only to sow seeds of doubt.

Twice in one CSA release on Thursday night the phrase “no need … [for an] independent investigation” appeared‚ and on Friday morning another statement was headlined: “[MSL] set to kick off as scheduled”.

The latter featured the intriguing sentence: “To dispel any uncertainty‚ a schedule of the opening matches is included.”

Until then there has been no question that the competition‚ though it is without a headline sponsor and CSA had to resort to the financially-strapped SABC to get it on television‚ would go ahead as planned.

CSA did not immediately respond when asked‚ in light of Friday’s release‚ to confirm that the MSL would proceed.

Not that‚ in any sensible reading of CSA’s dire situation‚ it should.

Facing estimated losses of between R654-million and R1-billion by the end of the 2022 rights cycle‚ embroiled in two court battles‚ shot through with interim appointees‚ and struggling to secure sponsors‚ CSA lurched further into chaos this week when they suspended three senior staff members.

Unsurprisingly‚ the South African Cricketers’ Association (Saca) have said CSA should be held up to the light — and not by the suits themselves.

The players’ alarm‚ which they sounded in a release on Thursday‚ was triggered by Tuesday’s news that CSA had suspended interim director of cricket Corrie van Zyl‚ sponsor and sales boss Clive Eksteen and chief operating officer Naasei Appiah.

That action was taken‚ CSA said on Wednesday‚ over their failure to pay the R2.4-million that was owed Saca for the use of the cricketers’ commercial rights during last year’s MSL.

Saca said they were surprised by the move because they hadn’t dealt with Appiah on the issue‚ and that Van Zyl and Eksteen had been working with them to resolve the problem.

Rather‚ Saca said‚ the buck stopped with CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe‚ who had signed the commercial rights contract.

A source close to the saga says Van Zyl and Eksteen have been careful to adhere to the correct procedure on the payment matter‚ and that they did not have the reasons for their suspension explained to them.

It needed Saca to lodge a formal dispute to get their money‚ which arrived after they forced a settlement that provided for payment within three days.

Saca’s release listed multiple claims of CSA’s violations of the legally binding memorandum of understanding between the organisations‚ one of which — over a proposed restructure of the domestic system that could cost 70 players their jobs — has ended up in the high court.

But CSA don’t seem to see the importance of coming clean‚ by way of externally conducted probes‚ with the players‚ the public and other existing and potential stakeholders.

“As the MSL issue has been settled to the satisfaction of both parties there is no need for the independent investigation that [Saca chief executive Tony Irish] has suggested‚” CSA said in Thursday’s release‚ which came almost eight hours after Saca’s statement.

“Furthermore‚ there is no need for CSA to have any kind of independent investigation into its financial situation.”

Bizarrely‚ the release concluded with: “ … it must be stressed that CSA has never released the identity of the staff members currently under precautionary suspension and has no intention of doing so”.

Yet‚ everybody interested already knows who they are‚ not least because a whistleblower told TimesLIVE‚ who confirmed the facts with Van Zyl.