Cricket must now proceed without government intervention, sports minister Nathi Mthetwa said as he announced the withdrawal of a proclamation that would have put the national teams and their tours in jeopardy.

“We have learnt a lot and we now have to start packing our bags as government and move aside, so that sport works continuously, unhindered,” Mthetwa said at a joint media briefing with Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Friday.

“For posterity, people should know that for any good thing to come about there has to be struggle,” Mthetwa said, defending the government intervention in the affairs of squabbling CSA.

Mthetwa had appointed an Interim Board (IB) last year with the express proviso that it resolve a long-standing crisis at the CSA regarding the implementation of new corporate governance proposals.
The entire previous board had either resigned or been dismissed.

Following an impasse between the IB and the Member’s Council, representing its affiliates, about accepting the new governance rules, Mthetwa had on Thursday invoked his powers in terms of the National Sport and Recreation Act to effectively leave South Africa with no cricketing authority.

This would have put in doubt the status of the national squads and all incoming and outgoing tours. Hundreds of jobs were also at stake.

However, barely hours after the proclamation, Mthetwa announced that he had instructed his Department to initiate the process of withdrawing it.

He said this was done after he received a letter from the CSA.

“As the sole purpose of my intervention into the affairs of CSA was to facilitate a negotiated solution in respect of governance best practice, I have, based on the confirmation from CSA’s Acting President (Rihan Richards) and IB Chairperson (Stavros Nicolaou), instructed my Department to immediately initiate the requisite process to withdraw the notice,” Mthetwa said.

Nicolaou said the new governance framework which involves independent directors would not only inspire confidence in CSA but would also go a long way towards fixing the failures and mishaps that previously existed in the cricket board.

“I think this will shift the focus and attention away from the boardroom to the players and the fans, where it should be”, Nicolaou said.

The new board of the CSA will consist of 15 directors, which will be reduced to 13 after two years. Eight will be independent directors, nominated from an independent panel, while the Members’ Council will select five non-independent directors.

The chairperson of the CSA board will be one of the eight independent directors.