Cricket South Africa has Peter de Villiers-ised its transformation agenda, writes RYAN VREDE.
Let me explain for those seeking context. Speaking at De Villiers’ unveiling as Springboks coach in 2008, SA Rugby president Oregan Hoskins told the media: ‘I want to be honest with South Africa and say that the appointment was not entirely made for rugby reasons. We, as an organisation, have made the appointment and taken into account the issue of transformation very, very seriously when we made it. I don’t think that tarnishes Peter – I’m just being honest with our country.’
Two things were true at the same time – Hoskins was being honest and De Villiers was tarnished.
It haunted De Villiers for his entire career and he felt the weight of it, evidenced by him recently telling RSG radio: ‘It was difficult, how do you manage to perform if your own people say you’re not only there for rugby reasons?’
By confirming publicly that CSA, after consultation with government, would exclusively make use of black individuals to ‘speed up’ the important process of transformation, CSA acting CEO Kugandrie Govender has botched a policy decision that is fundamentally good and just in the same manner her counterparts at SA Rugby did 12 years ago.
More importantly, she has welcomed racists and those with unconscious racial prejudice to dinner, set the table for them and handed them the carving knife to slice up the main dish – deep-fried black consultants.
‘Obviously there is a lot of talent sitting in the white pool, just by our history and if there is a particular skill that only a white consultant can offer CSA, then obviously we will use them,’ Govender told ESPNcricinfo. ‘This an internal measure for us to check ourselves because there was no measure before and people did whatever they wanted to do. We need to ask: “Could you have employed a black person in this position?” We are not saying we don’t want any white people. We are saying if you want that you have got to go through a process and you have to specifically prove that no one else can do the job.’
Just to be clear, the policy is inherently good. The leadership on articulating the policy and its execution to the public is awful and ill-considered.
CSA has been plagued by controversy in the last year. Most recently, it was forced to postpone the AGM, scheduled for 5 September, because the body was simply nowhere near ready enough for it. At the weekend, CSA announced the establishment of a Restoration Fund, intended to financially compensate those who feel they have been unfairly discriminated against on racial grounds. It has no funds for the fund.
Its reputation has been battered and the perception of its collective competency seriously diminished. The organisation needed a PR win and to be seen to be moving forward decisively. Add a squeeze of governmental meddling, garnish with temporary executive leadership, stir in some racial tension and serve your toxic cocktail to the South African cricket fraternity in fine crystal glassware – it will make everything taste better.
I don’t understand why Govender had to announce this decision publicly. If you believe the policy is in the best interests of the game, simply implement it and allow it to evolve organically over time. Instead, CSA has painted a target on the backs of future black consultants.
Surely part of CSA’s service to coaching appointments is to create an environment free from any pressure that doesn’t stem directly from playing-related matters? One of the ways of achieving that is by moving silently, yet decisively, and allow the fruits of your policy decision to show in time.
CSA has bungled the implementation of yet another important policy decision. AfriForum is preparing a legal challenge, which, if set in motion, will steal more time from CSA, time it could have used to repair our broken game.
It is more important to implement and execute sound transformation policies than it is talking about your transformation initiatives in order to be seen as progressive. The latter only serves to put transformation-related appointees on the back foot from the jump.
By doing so, you are fundamentally undermining a process that is critical to correcting years of racial discrimination.