Northerns president warns fellow Cricket SA board members: 'We are 1 scandal away from losing control'

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Tebogo Siko. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
Tebogo Siko. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
  • Cricket SA's state has prompted one of its board members, Northerns president Tebogo Siko to write to the board calling for the organisation to clean up its act.
  • Siko is dismayed by the reputational damage to CSA since December and has called for an end the saga around suspended CEO Thabang Moroe.
  • CSA's affiliate, North West Cricket, is also engulfed in scandals regarding allegations of misappropriated funds and alleged racism.

Cricket South Africa's (CSA) recent troubles have prompted board member and Northerns Cricket Union (NCU) president Tebogo Siko to write to the board expressing deep concern about the reputational damage cricket has suffered.

Sport24 has learnt that Siko, who became the NCU's first black African president in 2018, warned his fellow CSA board members that the organisation was "one case, one movement, one scandal from losing control".

In the letter, Siko said he was worried that CSA found itself in the midst of daily negative publicity, in spite of hiring a PR company (believed to be Tribeca Public Relations) and that his letter was a rallying cry for action and should not cause more division.

Siko wrote in the undated letter:

"The Brand of the company is not improving. We have recently hired a PR company to help us manage with limiting damage and enhancing our Brand. I do not believe this has been successful. I often hear people say once there's a start to cricket, then the journalists will forget and focus on the game. That statement holds no water. When international cricket is in full swing again, how much reputational damage would this organisation have suffered?"

CSA has careered from one damaging scandal to another in the past year, with the saga involving its suspended CEO Thabang Moroe, as well as legal wrangles with other suspended or expelled officials and loss of sponsors dominating the headlines.

Standard Bank opted not to renew their R100 million a year headline Proteas sponsorship when it expired in April, following a tumultuous December period that saw Moroe suspended and the Proteas lose dismally to the visiting English.

Interim CEO Jacques Faul stepped in and plugged some key gaps by signing on Betway into a three-year deal that, although handy, however did not cover the void left by Standard Bank. Faul also ensured cricket cushioned the blow caused by Covid-19's impact on the sport, making sure that there were no wage cuts in the sport.

The 3 Team Cricket Solidarity Cup was another shining light in an otherwise gloomy period for the sport off the field. Faul, however, will vacate his interim post come 15 September.

CSA also faced questions over the appointments of director of cricket Graeme Smith and Proteas head coach Mark Boucher, which the former and CSA president Chris Nenzani eventually addressed last weekend.

One of its affiliates, North West Cricket (NWC), has also been plunged into a series of crises with reports of stadium upgrade funds getting siphoned on top of allegations of racism within the provincial structures.

"The letter shouldn't encourage a split on the Cricket South Africa Board or the Member's Council but as a call to action," Siko wrote.

"I cannot help but feel that we are one case, one movement, one scandal from losing control, and opportunities to do what is right. The silence coming from all of us on some matters has left me worried."

Siko also expressed his dismay at ongoing leaks coming out of the organisation, which echoed the feelings expressed by Smith on confidential information finding its way into the public.

Moreover, the Northerns president called for the swift conclusion and release to the board members of the external audit by Fundudzi Forensic Services - appointed in March to investigate the conduct of the suspended CEO and CSA's decision-making leading up to the chaotic December 2019.

"Fundudzi forensic full report needs to be released immediately to all members," said Siko.

Asked for comment, Nenzani replied: "I am addressing the matter personally with Mr. Siko regarding all the concerns raised in his letter."

Northerns were also approached for comment and had yet to respond at the time of publication.

Read the full letter below:

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, 

After careful consideration of the situation the organisation finds itself in, I feel that it is essential that I voice my concerns on how we as Cricket South Africa find ourselves in negative publicity daily. 

The Brand of the company is not improving. We have recently hired a PR company to help us manage with limiting damage and enhancing our Brand. I do not believe this has been successful. I often hear people say once there's a start to cricket, then the journalists will forget and focus on the game. That statement holds no water. When international cricket is in full swing again, how much reputational damage would this organisation have suffered?

The letter shouldn't encourage a split on the Cricket South Africa Board or the Member's Council but as a call to action.

I cannot help but feel that we are one case, one movement, one scandal from losing control, and opportunities to do what is right. The silence coming from all of us on some matters has left me worried. 

My letter has been cryptic enough, so I would like to avoid losing those who are engaged to this point by going to what has inspired this letter. 

1. CSA leaks are occurring at an unprecedented rate, and it is at every level, from members to junior staff (all levels).

2. Communication. We continue to be weak and reactive in this space. When we do decide to communicate something positive, it is countered utterances that are contradictory.

3. Pointing of fingers or playing the blame game in public. Have we given the best support to the operational team?

4. Legal battles. The entity is involved in many legal battles. Legal battles we are fighting on too many fronts, and I cannot help but think that they are the main cause of most of our problems.

5. North West Forensic needs to be closed.

6. The cases with the suspended CEO & other senior management need finality.

7. Fundudzi forensic full report needs to be released immediately to all Members.

8. Stakeholders. Are our stakeholders, key or not, in our corner? Are we effective in our communication and engaging where we need to?  

9. Strategy. We, as an organisation, approved a strategy. The pandemic has bought us some time to consolidate and re-engineer where applicable.

10.  AGM - this event belongs to us all and implore us all to do what is right to ensure it runs smoothly without any controversy, lord knows we have had enough. We cannot allow the excitement of possibly being in new positions and serving new tenures cloud our judgment. It is unfair to possibly have a good majority of the board and the president being new then expect them to deal with the current status quo! I am appealing to your conscience here, we need wins and I know quick is relative, Controversy around Board Members should no longer be tolerated in order to create a credible Board.

11. Independent Directors. Have all the requirements from the Cricket South Africa MOI been met? For the Upcoming AGM

12. In-committee meetings. In light of all the points raised above, I would like to see an end to these meetings as there is critical information that is not recorded, where key points are raised, and decisions are made.

The main point I'm raising is that we need to take control of the narrative by calling for a combined meeting between the Board and Members to decide what the best way forward for Cricket South Africa will be. We need to deal with the matters raised above with a matter of urgency. If we fail to make decisions for Cricket South Africa, then someone else will, and we be judged for it.

When we do self-introspection can we ask ourselves "Are we doing justice to Cricket?"

Victory loves preparation. 

Kind regards,

Tebogo Siko 

Northerns Cricket Union President.

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