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Mthethwa’s ultimatum to CSA puts inbound cricket tours in peril

Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa on Wednesday warned that he might be forced to intervene directly in the running of Cricket South Africa (CSA).

Government interference in any national cricket board can lead to the member nation being suspended from the ICC and could put future international tours in jeopardy.

Cricket in crisis

In a statement issued by Mthethwa’s office on 14 October a deadline of 27 October was set for CSA to provide the ministry with detailed reasons why he should not “exercise his right to intervene”.

Mthethwa’s office has confirmed that the minister has informed the International Cricket Council of his intentions. The ICC does not permit government interference in member bodies and recently suspended Zimbabwe from international competition after the parastatal sports commission suspended the board.

A planned one-day international tour by England in November and December now appears to be in doubt and not just because of the ongoing governance crisis.

Even if global cricket bosses don’t sanction CSA because of government interference, the pandemic means that special permission from the government is needed for sports teams to travel from what are regarded as “high-risk” countries, which include Britain.

 “If we don’t start playing cricket, this organisation will be in trouble,” Dheven Dharmalingam, one of CSA’s independent board members, told a parliamentary committee earlier this week.

CSA officials met with Mthethwa on Monday but have yet to secure his backing for the England tour to go ahead.

Mthethwa sees “no value in further engagement” with CSA unless they can resolve its problems by 27 October according to the statement he released this week.

CSA endure disastrous meeting with parliament

Mthethwa’s ultimatum comes in the wake of a conference between CSA and parliament’s sports portfolio committee on Tuesday. Mthethwa said the meeting had yielded “negative outcomes”.

The meeting followed a string of failed engagements between CSA and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc). Sascoc had called for the cricket board and executive to step aside while an investigation into financial and governance affairs took place.

According to South African legislation, Sascoc is the umbrella body for elite sports codes and exercises oversight over the otherwise independent federations.

Sascoc implored Mthethwa to get enter the fray after claiming a lack of cooperation from CSA. Sascoc met stubborn resistance from CSA over access to the Fundudzi Report which was used to justify the dismissal of former CEO Thabang Moroe in August.

CSA has been in disarray since before Moroe was suspended last December after alienating the country’s players’ association and revoking accreditation of prominent critical journalists, which in turn led to several major sponsors pulling their support amid calls for the board to resign en masse. 

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