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Crisis at Cricket SA deepens as board member Prof Steve Cornelius quits

Chris Nenzani has been at the helm as Cricket South Africa president and board chairperson since February 2013.
Chris Nenzani has been at the helm as Cricket South Africa president and board chairperson since February 2013.
Image: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images

The crisis engulfing Cricket South Africa (CSA) deepened further on Friday when independent board member Professor Steve Cornelius quit the organisation to bring to three the number of resignations at board level this week.

CSA board chairperson and president Chris Nenzani and acting CEO Dr Jacques Faul quit hours apart with vice-president Beresford Williams ascending to the presidency in an acting role and chief commercial officer Kugandrie Govender seconded to the chief executive’s office.

The resignations are bizarre as they come two weeks before a scheduled annual general meeting on September 5 where a forensic investigation report and the suspension of Thabang Moroe were to take centre stage.

Cornelius confirmed that his resignation is with effect from August 19‚ the same day Nenzani abandoned his ship‚ but did not elaborate on why would he quit with the AGM meeting just two weeks away.

He said that work pressure at the University of Pretoria made it increasingly difficult for him to focus on both his academic work and his oversight role at CSA as an independent director.

“I think the simple answer is that one can only live on two hours’ sleep per day for so long. I needed to cut back‚” Cornelius told TimesLIVE on Friday.

“In the first semester‚ I taught a core module with 800 students as well as an elective with 100 students. This semester I teach a core module with 600 students.

“On top of that I am head of department and the faculty research coordinator [since the university does not have a deputy dean for research].

“I came to a point where I would have to miss a meeting at the university to attend to CSA or I would miss a meeting at CSA to attend to my work at the university.

“So I needed to cut back. I also resigned as editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Private Law so that I can focus on my work at UP. So it is not only related to CSA.

“In the circumstances‚ my commitment to my students must prevail‚” Cornelius said.

CSA thanked Cornelius “for his dedication and loyalty to the game of cricket and we wish him well in his future endeavours”.

Cornelius joined CSA in September 2018 and served as the chairman of the social and ethics committee and is also a member of the risk and audit committee.

He said the resignations of Nenzani and Faul were the straw that broke the camel’s back for him. “I have been mulling over this for a few weeks now. The resignation of Chris Nenzani and Jacques Faul actually almost made me reconsider my decision to resign.”

His exit‚ however‚ is not without controversy.

TimesLIVE reported last month how Cornelius‚ as the chairman of the social and ethics committee‚ allegedly “concocted” a report that led to the suspension of CEO Thabang Moroe in December last year.

In suspending the CEO in a statement on December 6‚ the CSA board said the decision to place Moroe on precautionary suspension “follows from the reports received by the social and ethics committee and the audit and risk committee of the board related to possible failure of controls in the organisation”.

But a source with the knowledge of CSA’s handling of the suspension of the CEO said last month that only board meetings and not committee meetings were held during that chaotic week in December.

The high-placed source said Cornelius unilaterally wrote a report and submitted it to the CSA board for ratification.

In the report dated Tuesday‚ December 2‚ which TimesLIVE has seen‚ Cornelius recommended the suspension of Moroe and the institution of an audit and forensic investigation into management practices at CSA.

Moroe was suspended four days later on December 6 on allegations of misconduct. He was replaced with Dr Jacques Faul a day later.

Nowhere in the report does Cornelius level any allegations of misconduct against the CEO.