Ex-Cricket SA CEO Moroe says he was undermined by the Proteas bosses‚ including then captain Faf du Plessis

Tiisetso Malepa Sports reporter
Former CEO of CSA Thabang Moroe.
Former CEO of CSA Thabang Moroe.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Thabang Moroe has detailed how he was undermined by the Proteas team management‚ including then captain Faf du Plessis‚ in the months leading up to his suspension as Cricket South Africa (CSA) CEO three years ago.

The former CSA boss was testifying under oath at the organisation’s Social Justice and Nation-building (SJN) transformation hearings and said a plan was hatched in the weeks leading up to the 2019 World Cup to lay the blame squarely on him as CEO should the Proteas not do well at the tournament.

Moroe‚ who was suspended in December 2019 and fired in August last year without appearing before a disciplinary hearing‚ told the inquiry how he was contacted by a Proteas player who told him that he unintentionally walked into a meeting at a team hotel where he overhead what he told the CEO was a “Plan B” being discussed.

The meeting was apparently attended by the team management‚ including coach Ottis Gibson and Faf du Plessis‚ and a plan was allegedly discussed to blame the CEO should the Proteas perform badly at the World Cup‚ which was to take place later that year in 2019.

“So in early 2019 I got a call from one of the players in the national team and he asked me to me‚” said Moroe‚ without mentioning the player.

“The first thing he asked me was 'what have you done to these people?' I asked him 'what do you mean by 'these people' and then he said 'the coaching or the management staff as well as the media are after you.'

“The player then told he walked into one of the rooms that was being used by the team management and then heard there were people inside‚ and there was a private meeting happening here.

“What was being discussed was the World Cup that was coming in 2019‚ and in particular what was in discussion was plan B‚ which was how are we going to react or what are we going to tell the media and the public should our performances at the World Cup be below par.

“The decision was simple. What this player told me is that he heard one of the guys saying ‘we should blame everything on the CEO plus our media guys don’t like him anywhere‚ so it will sell’.”

Moroe said he reported the matter to the board‚ who promised to deal with it.

“I thought‚ okay‚ it is fair. Most of the board members were disappointed to say the least to discover such a conversation had happened.

“The decision that the Board took immediately was that should the Proteas not perform as per expected at the World Cup‚ then everybody would be fired and that the board will talk about this matter in public.

“I thought that was good enough. Obviously If you have a team that is going to the World Cup and is not confident in how they are going to perform‚ and they are already planning to get away with murder‚ if I can put it that way in representing the country at the World Cup‚ that was concerning to me‚ knowing that I was essentially the one who was earmarked as the scapegoat.”

Asked by evidence leaders how the Plan B was to implicate him‚ Moroe gave further details.

“It is important to tie that up. We had two meetings with the team management‚ the captain‚ as the board‚ to ask them about their preparations for the World Cup and how they felt.

“In both meetings they were positive and pretty happy. They spoke about the support that I had given to them and how happy they were in terms of supporting them and anything else that they needed to make sure that they were ready for the World Cup.

“But we had one of the worst World Cup tournaments that the team has ever had.”

Moroe said he and the board were disappointed in the team management reports after the World Cup‚ but they were not surprised.

“The reports from the head coach‚ captain‚ the report of convenor of selectors Linda Zondi at the time‚ these reports now changed the tune to the two previous meetings that we had before the World Cup.

“These reports spoke about how I had not given the team the support they needed before they went to the World Cup and how I took certain unilateral decisions that impacted the team and because of these decisions‚ that is why they could not perform optimally.

“You now have all reports from team management pointing fingers at the CEO. What they did not know is we had discussed at board level to say something like this was coming.

“The board now realises that what I had actually given to them as feedback from the player meeting was the truth because we met with these people about two months or so ago and everything was perfect according to them.

“It is in that meeting that the board told me that they would like me to fire everybody‚ team management and they needed a change of captain.

“All sorts of excuses were given in terms of why the matters were not raised then.”

Moroe said the board promised that they would come out publicly to talk about the “Plan B”.

CSA invited people accused of racism and other adverse allegations to reply to testimony levelled against them.