CSA has issued a rebuke of the reporting that it will only hire black consultants, while also confirming that the body will probably only hire black consultants. RYAN VREDE is confused by it all.
Last week acting CEO Kugandrie Govender told ESPNCricinfo:
‘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 said then. ‘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.’
Simply put, CSA will implement an affirmative action policy, and view any new consultant hires through that lens.
Varying media were consistent in how they carried that story. Govender’s spoken words and the subtext were clear.
On Monday CSA issued a statement headed: ‘Transformation not exclusion is the key pillar of CSA’. I knew there was spin coming, but I was intrigued nonetheless.
‘CSA has noted, with much sadness, the recent media reports about the organisation’s position on transformation and with specific reference to the use of consultants and particularly white consultants,’ the statement began. ‘While we respect the opinions currently doing rounds in the public domain and including some media reports that continue to give coverage to this issue, we want to confirm that CSA has not taken and will not take a decision to work exclusively with black consultants. These stories are factually incorrect.’
Cool. But wait, there’s more.
‘Transformation has always been one of the five pillars on which Cricket South Africa is built,’ the statement continued. ‘It is indeed a national imperative that is legally embedded in our constitution. It is, therefore, imperative that we constantly remind ourselves of its importance in the way in which we conduct our business.’
‘The media reports around the statements made by our Acting Chief Executive are not a correct reflection of the sentiment that CSA had sought to convey,’ it went on. ‘CSA therefore reiterates that it does not have a policy of excluding any racial grouping, in favour of the other. As part of our corporate business model, CSA has adopted and also subscribes to the country’s BBBEE Act and Affirmative Action policy. What this means is that CSA has a moral and legal obligation to implement these two prescripts, while still embracing the need for all South Africans to live their cricketing dreams regardless of background, culture or ethnicity and this includes the services that we procure from external service providers.’
OK, allow me to translate CSA-speak into English. ‘You all were wrong to say we will only hire black consultants. But you have to understand that we will probably only hire black consultants because, you know, we’re legally obligated to do so. But, don’t worry whites, there’s still hope for you if the blacks don’t work out.’
My head is spinning. CSA has completely botched this dimension of its transformation agenda, like so many critical issues in the last year.
There is a leadership vacuum at the organisation and thus no clear strategy to address a myriad issues plaguing it. Furthermore, there is awful messaging on the work they are trying to do.
Addressing this leadership crisis is the first step to arresting this downward spiral. CSA has delayed its AGM indefinitely, so nobody really knows when to expect this issue to be resolved.
The next CSA CEO and president will be the most important appointments since South Africa’s readmission to international cricket. Those people will inherit a mess and must be equipped with the requisite leadership skill set – incorporating both the technical competency and emotional intelligence for the role – as well as an appetite for the long game, because it is going to take years to plug holes and steady this sinking ship.