Omphile Ramela blasts CSA interim board, accuses them of racial bias

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 Omphile Ramela.
Omphile Ramela.
(Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
  • Former Cricket South Africa interim board member Omphile Ramela fired a broadside at the CSA interim board, saying they're biased in their disciplinary approaches.
  • Ramela was removed from the board late last year.
  • Ramela has a pending court application against CSA contesting his removal from the board.

Former Cricket South Africa (CSA) interim board member Omphile Ramela has launched a scathing attack on the temporary governance structure, accusing them of only focusing on black executives at the embattled cricket body.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Ramela, who was suspended by the board on December 10 and removed five days later, said on Twitter: "The treatment of non-white executives and directors by the interim board with no due consideration is disheartening. Yet there is no decisive action on the alleged unlawful contracts/employment of some of the white executives. This is despite the lack of qualifications and the gross incompetence displayed that’s bringing the game to its knees."

When Sport24 contacted Ramela, who is also a former president of the South African Cricketers' Association (Saca) to get context and clarity behind his tweets, he said one example of the board's preferential treatment was how they handled the issue of suspended senior executive Kugandrie Govender.

Govender was initially suspended last year by the interim board when she was acting chief executive officer.

Her suspension was overturned by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on 5 February. She was then again suspended the following week.

"Recently, Kugandrie alleged that she was abused and the board members were present in that meeting. What is their position now, because several called out and said that was wrong? Some of them wanted to protect the chairperson, which is their prerogative, but some spoke out and took a position, saying that it made them uncomfortable. It is an infringement on one's dignity," Ramela said.

Ramela also gunned for under-fire Proteas coach Mark Boucher, alleging that Boucher's December 2019 appointment was unlawful.

"The head coach's lack of qualifications has been well publicised as they don't meet the minimum standards. I won't go into the performance, but with his contract, it is alleged that it is unlawful. The question is now, what has the board done about that?" Ramela said.

"There's someone in the building with an unlawful contract who is unqualified. What is being done about that? It could be termed as incompetence, but nothing was done against that particular individual. Part of our mandate was to review some of these contracts and if something was not done by the book."

CSA’s acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki, though, said Boucher’s appointment was lawful and all processes were followed when he was given the job.

"The employment offer given to Mark Boucher and dated 13 December 2019 was signed by both the Acting CEO and CFO and was subsequently accepted and signed by Mark Boucher. From a CSA point of view this gives legitimacy to the contractual relationship between CSA and Mark Boucher," Moseki said.

"It is worth noting that the normal process of signing a contract was followed by CSA and that all the relevant internal role-players were involved."

Ramela then also criticised the interim board for the way it had responded to the national side's decision to not take a knee for the Black Lives Matter movement during the England T20 series in November last year.

The national team did not take the knee for the first game of the T20 series against England but wore black armbands.

Ramela said he pointed out that using black armbands was culturally insensitive to other black players as black armbands are regarded as a symbol of death and mourning.

"I asked (Graeme) Smith to come and account with regards to Black Lives Matter because the country has a well-defined position when it comes to the issue of race," Ramela said.

"He (Smith) was protected by the board from accountability and, what happened? The very thing that marginalises black people and they went on to wear black armbands, which is a symbol of death and mourning."

At the time, CSA made it clear that the decision to not take a knee was one that had come from the entire group of players and not from Smith or any one person in management. 

Ramela has filed papers against CSA and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture contesting his removal from the interim board last month, an action that CSA said they would oppose.

"The independent board has only dealt with black executives," he said.

"All the decisions that have been taken are against people of colour. If there are transgressions, everyone across the colour bar must face the music. We have a responsibility that process, procedure and the substantive matters of the case are there."

CSA’s interim board spokesperson Judith February said there were legal processes with regards to Ramela and they won't be commenting further on any matters with regards to Boucher and Smith.

The interim board was granted a two-month extension by Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa and will have a joint press conference with the Member’s Council on Friday.

"We will not be engaging with any allegations/comments Mr Ramela makes about his time on the Board or related matters. Mr Ramela and the interim board are involved in litigation and so it would be inappropriate for the interim board or management to respond to these questions or other related social media posts," February said. 

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