Civil war is amongst us – let the good guys win

The skirmishing has ended. Civil war is now amongst us. Cricket South Africa’s Members Council has discarded its final chance to retrieve any respect or dignity and has declared open hostility against the players and supporters of cricket in this country. There can be no peaceful outcome now. Perhaps this is the way it should, and was always going to end. The building needs to be demolished.

The Members Council, comprising the presidents of the country’s provinces, disbanded the discredited board of directors two weeks ago. They negotiated with the Minister of Sport and agreed to appoint an interim board of nine independent directors with three members nominated by the Members Council – which immediately compromised its independence anyway.

Today, they refused to sanction or recognise the interim board. In a long-winded, rambling release packed with legal jargon and obfuscation, they attempted to justify their decision to cling on to power and increase the game’s laughable reputation for incompetence and non-existent governance.

Having grown tired of criticising CSA’s ‘leaders’, it is with some relief that I can hand the rest of this newsletter over to a statemen

t from the interim board’s chairman, retired Constitutional Court Judge, Zaq Yacoob. Appointed to the highest court in the land by Nelson Mandela in 1998, he served until 2013. He is a lifelong cricket lover and a renown judge of character as well as the law. His response to the Members Council is really all you need to read. So here you are:

“Dear Mr Acting-President,

We are now in a position to respond more fully to your letter sent to the Interim Board yesterday, indicating that the Members Council will not appoint those people suggested by the Minister for the Interim Board and attempts to provide, in a confusing and over-generalised way, “reasons” aimed at justifying the decision.

We start by saying that our understanding of the position is very different from what is said in the letter to be the understanding of the Members Council. Indeed we may say at the outset, that the “reasons” as communicated to us appear to be self-serving, opportunistic, misleading and if we may say so, very short-sighted as far as the interests of cricket in South Africa is concerned. We elaborate our understanding.

Technicalities aside, we were publicly mandated by the Minister to serve as an independent interim board to resolve well-aired difficulties faced by CSA over the years, and, over the next three months to try and ensure an Annual General Meeting by the end of that time so that an Independent, untainted Board would take CSA forward with integrity. We understood that there was an agreement between the Minister and the Members Council on exactly who was to be appointed and the Members Council undertook to formalise the appointment so that the Interim Independent Board would have the necessary authority and power to clean up cricket in South Africa.

The Members Council acting mainly through its Acting-President has adopted the strategy to pretend to cooperate in the process but ensured that every effort was made to obstruct our work. It is for this reason and only for this reason that the Interim Board has not been appointed. The reasons given have no substance and do not begin to stand scrutiny. These so-called reasons have been carefully crafted.

We dispute that the Board should be accountable to the Members Council in every way. Each of these entities have their own powers and responsibilities in term of the relevant enabling provisions. It occurs to us that the real reasons is to prevent us from doing our work independently and outside the Members Council control. We refuse to subject ourselves to any control and sacrifice our independence in the performance of our duties and in the interests of cricket.

The Members Council should also remember that the executive is accountable to the Board if the Board had been appointed and not the other way round. We assumed that the Members Council would act honourably and confirm our appointment. We therefore acted as the Board and gave instructions to the executive.

The executive balked at this because they were too accustomed to doing what they wanted to do without any accountability. They apparently complained and the Members Council was somehow, morally wrongly persuaded to take up their cudgels in the letter under reply, in support of the executive for no justifiable reason.

We understand that you have made it more difficult (as you clearly intended to do) for us to carry out our public mandate which we had accepted and to which we remain committed.

We will continue to act in the public interest to carry out our mandate. We reject any instruction from you as superfluous and will approach the media at our discretion in the public interest and in interests of SA Cricket as distinct from the narrow interest of some executive member or any other entity.

We hope you will see reason and put things right.

In Cricket

Zak Yacoob”

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