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CSA’s interim board: Who are they and what do they bring?

  • Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa served a few shocks, but named an all-star cast in the new interim CSA board.
  • Haroon Lorgat’s return hogged headlines as he made his way back after being unceremoniously axed as CEO in 2017.
  • Judge Zak Yacoob’s legal gravitas is a coup for the interim board, which will have its hands full juggling the mess they’ve inherited from previous directors.

Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa was always poised to spring a surprise or two when naming the interim Cricket South Africa (CSA) board this week, but few would have predicted former CEO Haroon Lorgat’s name coming out of the hat.

Rumours flying around were that an old hand, like Oom Ray Mali, the former CSA president, could make an unexpected return to the organisation.

Instead it was Lorgat, the man who was unceremoniously sacked by CSA in September 2017 when he was on the brink of bringing what was supposed to be South Africa’s equivalent of the Indian Premier League (IPL) – the T20 Global League.

It is widely believed that the tournament, which cost CSA millions in unfulfilled contractual obligations to overseas investors, which never got off the ground and was yanked off the shelves for the Mzansi Super League, was at the root of Lorgat’s breakdown in relations with the organisation.

Lorgat, to the nine-member interim board’s advantage, will be able to point straight away where the bodies are buried at CSA.

The interim board has three months with which to work, which could be extended should the CSA Members’ Council and the minister deem it fit.

They will also report to the Members’ Council.

Their first job is to get cracking on the last part of Judge Chris Nicholson’s recommendations which were never implemented: changing the memorandum of incorporation (MOI) to reflect a majority independent 12-member board (seven independents to five non-independents). CSA has prevaricated on changing its MOI for years.

It’s the caveat Nicholson said was critical in making sure it avoided sinking to the depths it had when he instituted his inquiry in 2011 and finished in 2012, on the 2009 IPL bonus scandal.

Also high on their agenda is investigating the deeds of the previous board from 2019 to 2020, all of whom had resigned by Monday, using the hidden Fundudzi Forensic Services report as their guide.

One of the main things Mthethwa tried to avoid in forming the task team was a conflict of interest. It meant that former Cape Cobras batsman Omphile Ramela, who was another surprise inclusion, would have to step down as South African Cricketers’ Association president.

“One of the main problems that this process will have to deal with is the issue of conflict of interest,” Mthethwa said on Friday.

“People who are going to be in this board, if by any stretch of imagination, they have been part of the Members’ Council or SACA, they definitely have to step down from those positions, so that there’s no conflict of interest here.

“I can make an example about Omphile Ramela, for instance, who it was made clear to everybody that, if you take [he] takes this responsibility, he will no longer be the leader of SACA. He will have to step down, which was understood.

“The same applies with the Members’ Council. We are clear about that.”

The other potential conflict pre-emptively worked itself out last weekend when, during a fiery meeting of clubs, Eastern Cricket Union president Xolani Peter Vonya resigned following unhappiness at his former union’s Members’ Council not dealing decisively with board members fingered in a plot to oust him by Judge Bernard Ngoepe’s report.

By default, it meant that Vonya exited the CSA Members’ Council, as he was no longer president of an affiliate and was then able to accept his nomination by CSA to be part of the interim board.

Mthethwa also landed an investigative eagle in former Hawks (Special Investigating Unit) deputy head Caroline Mampuru as well as renowned Judge Zak Yacoob, who will serve as its chairperson.

READ | Haroon Lorgat, Omphile Ramela headline CSA interim board, chaired by Judge Zak Yacoob 

The interim board, a brief breakdown:

Judge Zak Yacoob (chairperson)

Although he became blind at just 16 months, Judge Yacoob became one of South Africa’s most important and revered legal figures.

He served as a Constitutional Court Justice from 1998 to 2013 and is an avid cricket follower. His legal gravitas is a coup for the interim board as it will have its hands full juggling the mess they’ve inherited from previous directors.

Andre Odendaal

Professor Odendaal is another major acquisition to the board. Odendaal has taught history at the University of South Africa and the University of Cape Town, and is an historian and author. He has written books such as The Story of an African Game as well as helped write the laws of cricket in isiXhosa.

He has consulted at CSA numerous times on matters such as transformation and was recently co-opted as the lead administrator to CSA’s affiliate province, Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) last year.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 13: Prof Andre

Omphile Ramela

Ramela has captained almost all the teams he’s played for since picking up the game at mini-cricket level. The former left-handed batter accumulated more than 5 000 First Class runs in a professional career that started in 2007 and took him to the Cape Cobras, the Lions and the SA A team.

He has acquired a number of degrees, including a Master’s degree in economics from the University of Stellenbosch. He is the current SACA president, a position he will imminently relinquish in order to sit on the interim CSA board.

Judith February

February is one of CSA’s biggest critics, who has written extensively on matters plaguing the game for a number of years.

She’s a qualified lawyer, who focuses on governance, and a regular, if prolific, columnist and author on the subjects pertaining to good governance, or lack thereof, and corruption.

Her knowledge of the goings-on behind the scenes in cricket is unparalleled. She’s a massive asset to the board.

Caroline Mampuru

Mampuru’s name on this interim board should send shivers through the spines of anyone with anything to hide at CSA.

She’s a former Hawks deputy head and comes from an extensive investigations background. She’s a former business executive of investigations at the Auditor-General and was once a chief director of public administration investigations at the Public Service Commission.

Dr Stavros Nicolaou

Although he comes mainly from a pharmaceutical background, Dr Nicolaou brings the business gravitas to the board.

As an Aspen Pharmacare executive, he’s had his hands full recently with the coronavirus outbreak, but before then he pioneered the company towards bringing the first generic ARV drug in Africa.

He has also served on the Brand SA board.

Andile Dawn Mbatha

Mbatha is another member who adds to the business nous in the team. She is currently the Independent Electoral Commission CFO and is a qualified chartered accountant.

With investigations being a big part of the interim board’s mandate, she will get stuck into the company’s books, which should reveal the true state of cricket’s malaise.

Haroon Lorgat

Some might feel that Lorgat has an axe to grind with the organisation that gave him the boot three years ago, but those largely responsible for his ousting, according to corridor talk at least, have also left: former CEO Thabang Moroe and former president Chris Nenzani.

Lorgat, a chartered accountant and businessman as well, is certainly no stranger to cricket, having also served as ICC CEO in the past.  

Haroon Lorgat (Gallo)

Xolani Peter Vonya

Vonya, 33, has been earmarked by his former contemporaries at the Members’ Council as one of the future leaders in cricket.

He’s an honours graduate in mathematical and computer sciences and has worked at various technological roles within Standard Bank. He was chairman of KwaThema Cricket Club before he was Easterns president, a role that came to an acrimonious end last weekend amid power struggles plaguing the union.

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