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Sponsors summon Cricket SA to an emergency meeting to explain ban on five journalists

02 December 2019 - 15:42 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe is under siege.
Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe is under siege.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Cricket South Africa (CSA) have been summoned to a 5pm meeting by their biggest sponsor Standard Bank after the ongoing fallout from their attempt to ban five journalists from covering Mzansi Super League games on Sunday.

CSA's decision was greeted by wide condemnation from the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef)‚ the SA Cricketer's Association (Saca) and the nation's cricket lovers.

The bank is the title sponsor of the Men's Test and ODI team while it also looks after some of CSA's development projects.

In a statement issued on Monday‚ Standard Bank Group Chief Marketing Officer Thulani Sibeko said the bank needs to be aware of what takes place from an administrative perspective.

“In recognition of the widespread interest in and support for cricket‚ we value the right of South Africans and the broader cricket community to know about developments within CSA‚ especially those that relate to governance and conduct‚” Sibeko said.

Journalists Stuart Hess‚ Ken Borland‚ Neil Manthorp‚ Telford Vice and Firdose Moonda had their accreditations revoked by CSA.

Hess wasn't able to attend the Jozi Stars v Paarl Rocks game at the Wanderers in Johannesburg while Manthorp‚ Moonda and Vice weren't granted access at Newlands to cover the Cape Town Blitz v Tshwane Spartans fixture.

In a radio interview‚ CSA's chief executive offer Thabang Moroe admitted that the accreditations were revoked because the organisation is unhappy with the reporting in various media outlets.

In a statement‚ Sanef said CSA's actions must be fiercely resisted.

“SANEF believes CSA’s actions will have a chilling effect on the media’s ability to cover all aspects of cricket‚ not just what happens on the field of play‚ but also what happens behind closed doors where the sport is administered.

"CSA’s actions smack of bullying‚ are unacceptable and must be fiercely resisted in order to preserve the independence of the media and journalists’ ability to report without fear or favour‚” the statement said.

“Moroe’s statements are deeply concerning.

"Journalists must be allowed to do their job of holding those in power accountable without fear of intimidation or that they will be prevented from doing their job.

"Moroe and CSA have a duty to respect the independence of journalists without resorting to bully tactics. This is bound to have the opposite effect of what CSA and Moroe would want to achieve.”

Saca are locked in an ongoing legal battle with CSA in regards with the restructuring of the domestic game from the 2020/21 season.

Saca have consistently claimed that CSA didn't consult them properly on the changes that'll see the six franchises being disbanded‚ with the 13 affiliates being the main source of player production.

Saca also recently gave CSA a notice of dispute in regards with commercial fees owed from last year's Mzansi Super League tournament. 

This led to the suspension of three CSA officials in chief operating officer Naasei Appiah‚ sponsorship and sales head Clive Eksteen and acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl.

Saca chief executive Tony Irish said what happened to the five is something they've endured from CSA.

“It’s a sorry state of affairs when attempts are made to silence respected journalists for writing about the ongoing problems in the game.

"This is not‚ however‚ dissimilar to what SACA has had to endure over the last nine months‚ during which we have been barred from CSA sub-committees‚ denied access to critical information necessary for us to represent the players and had our agreements breached with impunity ‚” Irish said.

“Many of the concerns we have are not even related to the High Court application yet CSA continues to refuse to address them.

"Now in the last week there are added concerns relating to ‘unknown selectors’ selecting the Proteas team and the barring of cricket journalists from matches.

"It is clear to us that things are getting worse‚ not better.”