ANALYSIS | Botched: Cricket SA’s doomed case towards Thabang Moroe | Game

  • Cricket South Africa (CSA) had to act quickly on the accusations against its CEO Thabang Moroe to validate the disciplinary action.
  • Seven months have passed in the drawn-out, much-publicised and costly saga, to the detriment of Moroe’s and CSA’s image.
  • CSA’s board is expected to announce their next steps in the case by the end of the week but it’s unclear whether they are moving forward or abandoning their mission.
  • A report that the terms of a forensic audit into cricket’s affairs have changed, to focus solely on Moroe, has put the organisation squarely on the backfoot in the case.

Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) case against its CEO Thabang Moroe had to be swift and decisive for it to be believable that he committed the egregious acts he has been accused of.

It had to be unambiguous, curt and to the point. Instead, the much-publicised suspension has become so ponderous and meandering that it’s hard to keep track of what the “precautionary paid suspension” was about.

A damning seven months have passed, at the cost of two expensive CEO salaries (Moroe’s and stand-in Jacques Faul’s).

It’s allowed conspiracy theories, accusations and counter-accusations to take centre stage.

Meanwhile, the saga has dragged the organisation’s name through the dirt.

CSA has shielded themselves behind an external forensic audit report that has yet to arrive four months after it was signed off for commission in March.

The terms of reference of the investigation, according to a Sunday Times report, have also now been altered fundamentally to exclude the board’s role in the decisions that led to cricket’s summer of sombre.

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CSA have vehemently denied this. In a Wednesday night statement, president Chris Nenzani said they felt obliged to respond to the report.

“The CSA board has not changed the terms of reference of this investigation,” CSA wrote.

“In fact, the Members’ Council commissioned the forensic investigation and this has been formally  communicated. It follows that the board cannot make changes to the terms of reference because it does not have the authority to do so.”

Moroe was suspended on 6 December, the same day Standard Bank announced that they were severing their ties with cricket after more than a decade.

In the weeks leading up to their CEO’s suspension, CSA were ensconced in a court battle with the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) that threatened to get ugly and to destabilise the game to its core.

What seemed at the time like arbitrary suspensions of senior officials – Clive Eksteen, Naasei Appiah and Corrie van Zyl – added fuel to the fire and so did the bizarre revoking of five journalists’ accreditations.

But it was primarily Standard Bank Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Thulani Sibeko’s statement that forced the board’s hand.

Implying that CSA had acted in a manner that tarnished the bank’s reputation, Sibeko said: “Standard Bank is committed to upholding the highest levels of leadership, integrity and governance. In light of recent developments at CSA, which are a culmination of long-standing problems which have damaged Standard Bank’s reputation, it has decided not to renew its partnership with CSA.”

That’s it, said the board, and they suspended Moroe. Costing the company money is chief on the list of don’ts for any CEO, but on closer inspection, the allegation could be challenged.

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If Standard Bank wanted him gone so badly, they would have demanded his removal as a term of renewal after the sponsorship’s expiry date in April. Instead they forged ahead with their exit, regardless of who took over the running of the ship from Moroe.

Moreover, the bank had restructuring that led to 100 branch closures, hundreds of job losses in 2019 and it would not have looked great on them had they splurged (what is believed to be) a cool R100 million on cricket sponsorship a year.

There was also the allegation that Moroe used a company credit card to fund a lavish party in Cape Town, which, if true, would not take more than a few hours and bank statements to prove.

But the board and its investigation (into themselves and Moroe) tarried and thereby compromised their own efforts to clean up their organisation.

They now sit at the mercy of a potentially drawn-out and expensive court saga should they come to a conclusion of dismissing Moroe.

His lawyer, Michael Motsoeneng Bill, confirmed to Sport24 this week that they had received “nothing” by way of charges – not from the social and ethics committee and audit and risk committee reports, nor from external auditors Fundudzi Forensic Auditors.

“Our intention is to, firstly, formally ask for confirmation and, secondly, to formally ask for the report, if any, that was given to CSA,” Bill said this week.

“Undoubtedly, there would have been some or other reports generated by the investigators in the last six months. We can’t exist in a world where we get to pick and choose what evidence should see the light of day. We want to ensure that everything comes to the fore.”

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CSA is expected to make an announcement by the end of the week, which should either see Moroe’s case being dropped or an explosive charge sheet brought to light.

On the present evidence available for public analysis, CSA’s case against Moroe has been botched and the only recourse is to either pay him out of his contract or reinstate him, post haste.

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