The Board of Cricket South Africa (CSA) met virtually on Saturday to give further consideration to the Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) report, which was compiled by Ombudsman, Adv Dumisa Ntsebeza, and which is available on their website. Part of the findings reveal that the Ombudsman found the appointments of director of cricket Graeme Smith and coach Mark Boucher were “flawed from a procedural perspective”.
The Ombudsman’s SJN Report made various “tentative findings” regarding allegations of discrimination and racism. However, the Ombudsman indicated that he was not in a position to make “definite findings” and recommended that a further process be undertaken in this regard.
In keeping with this approach, the Board has decided to institute formal enquiries into CSA employees, suppliers or contractors who are implicated by the SJN report. The Board has done so mindful of its duty to treat allegations of racism or discrimination with the utmost seriousness and in a manner that ensures fairness and due process in terms of South Africa’s labour legislation and the Constitution.
The formal inquiries will take place early in the new year. They will include formal inquiries into the conduct of Graeme Smith, the CSA Director of Cricket, and Mark Boucher, the coach of the Proteas Men’s team. The Ombudsman’s Report included findings that Smith and Boucher had acted in a prejudicial or discriminatory manner.
The formal inquiries will be conducted by independent legal professionals. Further details with regards to the inquiries will be announced in due course. Smith and Boucher remain in their positions and will continue to carry out their duties during the India tour.
“CSA respects the SJN process and we are engaging with the report in detail and holistically. We have taken careful cognisance of the recommendation of the Ombudsman, that in appropriate cases, a further process should be instituted to test the evidence and submissions made, and we have decided that this is indeed the appropriate route to follow,” says CSA Board chairperson, Lawson Naidoo.
“We hope this will give implicated parties a fair opportunity to be heard so that finality can be achieved, and any final findings can then be acted on,” he says.
Further steps and action by CSA to transform cricket and act on other applicable recommendations in the SJN report, aligned to the Board’s new strategic framework and pillars of access, inclusion and excellence, are set to be announced in the new year.
Boucher appointment questioned
The report, which runs to 235 pages, contends that there were various breaches of CSA’s own HR manual.
It’s particularly stated that CSA’s former chief executive, Thabang Moroe, acted beyond the powers granted to him when appointing Smith.
Meanwhile, when it came to Boucher’s appointment as head coach of Proteas prior to the start of the series with England in December 2019, the SJN reports states “it is clear Mr Smith did not follow any CSA policy in appointing Mr Boucher”.
Enoch Nkwe, who had been interim ‘Team Director’ in 2019 before Boucher’s appointment, was overlooked for the position, and the report contends that race played a determining factor in the decision making.
“Did Mr. Smith and CSA differentiate between black and white coaches when they appointed Mr Boucher to the head coach position? The answer to the question is in the affirmative.”
It further states that CSA “undermined its own transformation imperative in permitting the appointment of Mr Boucher ahead of Mr Nkwe.”
“Mr Nkwe’s resignation should not really come as a surprise to CSA,” the report also asserts in reference to the Proteas assistant coach stepping down in August this year after citing concerns about the team environment and culture.
In response to the SJN report, CSA’s Board agrees wholeheartedly that the issues facing cricket “are a complex interaction of multiple factors stemming from the history of this country and consequent socio-economic factors that prevail today.”
CSA confirmed that although the Report is titled an “interim Report”, the Ombudsman has now discharged his mandate and no further report is expected.
As CSA Chairman, Lawson Naidoo said in his closing remarks to the SJN hearings:
“We look forward to the report and will engage with it and its recommendations in order to assist in ensuring that we do indeed move the game of cricket onto a new and different trajectory. We are thus committed to considering the findings and recommendations with an open mind. We will look at the report objectively, having regard to our social justice obligations, and our duties as guardians of the game in the Republic of South Africa.”
The CSA Board also thanked the Ombudsman for his insights and recommendations and will engage with the report further in the new year.
The Ombudsman’s process was initially due to last four months but was later extended to over six months at the Ombudsman’s request. CSA made available extensive legal and other resources to this Ombudsman for this process, including spending more than R7.5 million on the process, despite an initial budget of R5 million.
While the Ombudsman’s report commends CSA’s efforts to address the injustices of the past, it highlights that much still needs to be done. It recommends improved internal and confidential grievance procedures and for mediation procedures to be put in place as a means of giving aggrieved players the platform to air their frustrations.
The Ombudsman makes it clear that CSA’s efforts to provide cricketing facilities in remote areas and create opportunities for the disadvantaged to enjoy the game of cricket can only succeed if CSA, the government and other relevant stakeholders “start from scratch” in achieving the goal of making cricket a truly transformed sport in disadvantaged areas.
He also raises concerns over an “exclusionary culture” in certain incidents in the past when it came to selection of black players.
He has called on CSA to revisit the match fee system, while a lack of sensitivity and understanding of the racist undertones of comments made by former players was also highlighted.
Furthermore, it was found that work has to be done in rolling out recreational projects that educate players on the diverse cultures and languages that exist within the team and that will give the team an opportunity to come up with strategies on how the team is going to socially integrate.
The report found that race played no part in the match fixing investigation and the Ombudsman could not find any evidence supporting the allegation that Black players were targeted during the investigation.