“Trust us” was the anodyne plea made by Cricket South Africa on Thursday to both Sascoc and the cricket-loving public as they continued to try and justify why the complete Fundudzi Forensic Report cannot be made public.
CSA and Sascoc held a joint virtual press conference on Thursday, but far from presenting a unified front, it soon became apparent that the two organisations, both with distressing records in good governance, are at an impasse.
Sascoc president Aleck Skhosana said the mother body of all sports federations in South Africa is still resolved to set up an independent task team to investigate the affairs of CSA, and reiterated that the CSA Board and executive must step aside to ensure they have “unfettered access”.
But that task team will only be appointed after Sascoc have received the full forensic report, Skhosana saying this was necessary “so we don’t put the cart before the horse; if we choose the task team before we might put legal people on there instead of accounting; we need to know what kind of skills are required”.
But CSA are standing firm on their refusal to sideline their Board or executive, and will also only allow Sascoc to view the forensic report on the same basis as the Members Council last weekend – either just in summary form or at one of Bowman Gilfillan’s offices after signing a non-disclosure agreement.
CSA Acting President Beresford Williams said this was for legal reasons.
“It’s on the advice of our legal representatives, who cautioned against releasing it because there is a huge risk that it could compromise future litigation and legal matters that are already in process, plus open us up for future liability. The Members Council resolved unanimously that Sascoc’s access to the report should be under the same conditions as there’s was, in other words, a summarised report,” Williams said.
Anne Vilas, the Central Gauteng Lions president and a member of the Members Council, made a plea for that body to be trusted, even though she could not state with 100% certainty whether the summary was written by Bowman Gilfillan, who are CSA’s lawyers and formerly employed controversial company secretary Welsh Gwaza, or by Fundudzi, the independent forensic investigators.
“I have been very vocal about the report but we had very enlightening discussions last weekend and we all understand CSA’s position that it would not be in the organisation’s best interest to make the report public. We don’t want to step on anybody’s rights, but further action will be taken if warranted and we will hold the Board responsible if necessary, you can trust us on that.
“No other investigations have been done to warrant the suspension of anyone other than Thabang Moroe right now, but stuff is going on and things will happen. But unless we firmly believe something is being withheld from us, there is not sufficient reason for the Board to stand down or anyone to resign. There’s nothing stopping any of the directors from standing at the AGM,” Vilas said when asked how the public were meant to believe CSA were not just hiding behind a shield of legal advice.
Williams would not give a straight answer as to whether CSA will comply with Sascoc, after Skhosana outlined the legal powers they have over CSA and their willingness to “take appropriate measures to ensure compliance”.
“Our engagement has been very positive and there has been great dialogue between the parties. We value Sascoc’s role and there’s no doubt that together we will find common ground. We are in engagement and that will continue. CSA responded in detail to Sascoc about our fiduciary duties and we are still engaging and talking to each other. I’m confident that we can move forward and find common ground,” Williams said in a top-class piece of obfuscation.
The former Western Province Cricket Association president also showed a distinct affection for denial when he said he and the other Board members had nothing to be held accountable over.
“I assure you that if there were any cases of concern in the report then we would have stood down. There were no negative findings to threaten the AGM and the Members Council unanimously agree that we should not be held accountable. I took the decision to continue to serve the game I’m passionate about, if I had acted irresponsibly or not in the best interests of CSA as a director then I would have moved on,” Williams said.
But “unanimously” is a word CSA have had a history of not understanding the proper meaning of and, as Skhosana himself said, “All trust has been lost in Cricket South Africa and we see evidence of that on a daily basis.”