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Spotlight burns brightly on Chris Nenzani, CSA leadership ahead of critical period for cricket

  • Cricket SA president Chris Nenzani has held an hour-long press briefing to discuss current state of the organisation and CEO Thabang Moroe’s suspension.
  • Nenzani says the CSA board has had a responsibility to deal with the challenges facing the organisation since December 2019 and that is why it did not resign.
  • Finalising the disciplinary action surrounding Moroe is a priority, but there are potential complications ahead. 

“It’s good to see you, Mr President.” 

Those words from a senior South African cricket journalist on Tuesday night, directed at Cricket South Africa (CSA) president Chris Nenzani, were a not so subtle dig at a leadership that has all too often been accused of being absent in times of uncertainty and a period that Nenzani himself has termed a “crisis” for the organisation. 

On Tuesday, Nenzani fronted up to the media to answer questions on the current state of CSA and, more significantly, the lack of progress in the disciplinary investigation into the suspension of CEO Thabang Moroe.

More than six months have passed since Moroe was suspended on allegations of misconduct, but he is yet to sit in front of a disciplinary committee. 

Nenzani acknowledged that the situation was far from ideal and that all involved would have expected further progress by this stage, but a delay in securing the independent body responsible for conducting the investigation back in December, as well as the coronavirus crisis, were given as the primary reasons for that lack of progress. 

A full, comprehensive report on Moroe will be completed shortly – Nenzani says the first part of that report is expected on Friday – and then the appropriate action will be taken. 

Composed and thoughtful in his responses throughout the hour-long briefing, Nenzani said it would have been irresponsible for him and the CSA board to have stood down from their positions towards the end of 2019 when the “crisis” surrounding the Moroe leadership saw Standard Bank pull out of its R80 million per year sponsorship.

“The board took the view that it would be unwise for it to resign and run away from the challenges that were facing the organisation,” Nenzani said.

“You needed to board to take responsibility and fix the problems that are facing the organisation. It would have been an easy way out for the board to run away.

“It was an important consideration that we had to take.”

Moroe is still receiving a full salary from CSA and, while he has been sidelined, Jacques Faul has been operating as acting CEO, working closely with the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) and director of cricket Graeme Smith in an effort to restore the faith of the South African public and, even more importantly, potential investors. 

Faul was a spectator at Nenzani’s briefing on Tuesday and while he received praise from the president for the work done to provide stability since December, the seriousness of the current situation was written all over the acting CEO’s face. 

Faul believes the next two weeks are crucial for CSA. 

On Wednesday, CSA is launching the Solidarity Cup and a number of new sponsors who committed to the new-look tournament, and the uncertainty surrounding Moroe and his future, and how that might impact on potential investors is exactly the reason behind Faul’s call for urgency. 

Nenzani has also emphasised, vocally at least, the need for swift action but that has not happened yet and according to Moroe’s legal team, there are potential complications ahead in the process. 

It is alleged that Moroe was not given official notice of his suspension initially, and while Nenzani did not go into specifics of how the news was communicated to Moroe back in December, there appears to be some uncertainty over when and how the official notice of the suspension was relayed to Moroe. 

“We suspended him on December 5. I spoke to him,” Nenzani said. 

“Subsequently, he received his letter of suspension.”

Nenzani did not confirm how much time had passed between informing Moroe verbally about his suspension and providing him with an official letter of suspension. 

The president emphasised, though, that there was no time limit on Moroe’s suspension and that the letter clarified that the suspension would remain intact until the completion of the forensic investigation. 

The 14 member unions and not the board, Nenzani added, were responsible for the appointment of the investigation and the independent audit team responsible for carrying out the investigation.

“The reasons for that are simple: we said that this forensic investigation must also look into the decision-making within the board itself,” Nenzani explained.

“Therefore, the members council had to be the appointing authority in this instance. That, together with some of the matters relating to the experience of the [coronavirus] lockdown, would have delayed things quite a lot.”

It was also revealed that Moroe was in fact, allowed onto the premises when he raised eyebrows by arriving at CSA headquarters in Johannesburg for work on Thursday, last week. 

“The office is locked and there was nobody in the office … everybody is working from home,” Nenzani said.

“It was cold outside and when I was informed that he was outside, wanting to come in, I said he should be allowed into the office and the building.

“That did not mean that he was not on suspension. 

“I don’t know what he did there … he only had access to the perimeter of the building.”

Nenzani added that his relationship with Moroe was strictly professional.

“The manner in which I deal with issues is that I try not to confuse things with personal relationships,” he said.

“Everybody that I’ve worked with at CSA, we have a good working relationship, the same way I do with Thabang.”

Nenzani’s last media appearance was on 7 December 2019 – the day Moroe’s suspension was announced – and the spotlight is now shining just as brightly on him and CSA’s boardroom leadership. 

As Faul said, the next two weeks will be pivotal and this Friday, in particular, will go some distance towards revealing where the organisation is heading. 

It is a time for strong, decisive leadership and, on Tuesday night, that leadership was at least visible.

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