Telling the Truth

There were many interesting aspects of CSA president Chris Nenzani’s press conference on Saturday, not least his refusal to apologise for the humiliating judgement handed down by Advocate Ginsburg SC in the case against the Western Province Cricket Association.

“We need to get it right the next time we exercise our ‘step-in’ rights,” Nenzani said. No acknowledgement of the board’s failure, no acceptance of the pain and loss created by their bullying and misinformed actions. Nothing conciliatory.

In a systemic catalogue of maladministration the most interesting, perhaps, was Nenzanis’ reaction to the issue of the non-payment of R2.4million to the SA Cricketers Association (SACA) for player image rights during the first edition of the Mzansi Super League in 2018.

It was nine months overdue when Chief Executive Officer Thabang Moroe finally signed off on it. Nenzani said on Saturday that Moroe had “effected payment within hours after becoming aware of the problem.” A little later in his media briefing, this changed to “at least within a day.”

In truth, the non-payment had been an active issue within the senior ranks of CSA administrators for over six months. Acting Director of Cricket, Corrie van Zyl, had made Moroe aware of the issue on numerous occasions and received no response.

SACA have documents confirming Moroe’s knowledge of the non-payment at least 10 days before they lodged a legal dispute and are also aware of the efforts of van Zyl to facilitate the payment for eight months after it was due.

Either Nenzani lied during his press conference or he repeated a lie given to him by Moroe. Whatever it was, the CSA president is no longer fit to serve. His credibility is extinguished and the board he convenes is bereft of credibility. Their desperate attempt to cling to power is embarrassing and, worse, doing long-term damage to the credibility of Cricket South Africa.

Relations between sponsors and media are close – they have to be. Sponsors like Standard Bank and Momentum, Sunfoil before them, need to have a close and trusting familiarity in order to maximise their investment. They can’t be quoted on the finer details of their relationship with CSA, but there is a necessity for honest conversation    “The sport is bleaker than ever at the moment,” said a friend from one of CSA’s longest allies. “If we have any budget and desire then it’s the Springboks we’d want to be associated with, or golf…you wouldn’t want to be seen within 100 kms of CSA at the moment. If Standard Bank pull out because of a toxic environment then it will take years before anybody else steps in there.”

The appointment of Jacques Faul as interim CEO is an excellent step in the right direction and, if Graeme Smith is convinced that the environment is healthy enough to accept the post of Director of Cricket, there is genuine hope for the future. But nothing is possible with the current board of directors remaining in control. Nobody has any faith in them – apart from themselves.

Nenzani’s legacy to cricket will be of the man who did decades of good at amateur level in the Border, worked his way up the administrative ladder, became president of Border, and then CSA… and then, eventually, lost the plot completely. R400k a year, thrice yearly business class trips to Dubai, endless flights to India – IPL finals etc…

It is a great shame more was not made in the media of the change in CSA’s constitution which allowed Nenzani to stay on for an extra year after his second term expired. That was the beginning of the poisonous end.

The president and his board (minus the three resigned independent members) will endure a deeply uncomfortable existence until they are finally evicted. Nobody within the operating circles of cricket respects them, affection will come only from family members and sponsors won’t even contemplate a 15-minute coffee while they are in place.

Nenzansi and his board are the husband who refuses to move out of the family home after a bitter and acrimonious divorce. It’s embarrassing and unbecoming. Find an apartment, gentlemen. Move out. You have failed and are not wanted.

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