The PSL may have flouted King’s corporate governance principles in the appointment of Manto.
Recently the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture – Nathi Mthethwa, read Cricket South Africa the riot act should they not implement the recommendations by the Nicholson Commission.
One such recommendation was that the Board of Cricket South Africa comprise of a majority of independent directors. And rightly so! For some time now, Cricket South Africa has attempted to disregard these recommendations. It would seem they have the support of South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) which might have a point in its support for CSA’s member council. After all, what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.
If only Mthethwa would act with the same enthusiasm against the Board of Governors (BoG) of the Premier Soccer League as he does with the CSA board. The PSL’s BoG has flouted the King Corporate Governance Principles in many respects and yet nothing has happened to them. Several years ago, the PSL signed a sponsorship agreement running into several millions with a bank conglomerate and the several members of the board went ahead and paid themselves a gratification.
The then minister of finance, Trevor Manuel, objected to this stating that it was unethical as the BoG was in essence doing its job. Why would they pay themselves in pursuance of their job? Not so long ago former AmaZulu general manager Lunga Sokhela as reported by TimesLive has come out guns blazing and said the PSL’s acting CEO Mato Madlala should not be at the helm of the organisation. Madlala, who is also the chairperson of Golden Arrows, has been the PSL’s acting CEO since she replaced Brand de Villiers in November 2015. The outspoken Sokhela offered his views as the PSL continued to take a hammering over the shambolic handling of the promotion debacle that has led to the postponement of the playoffs this week. The former AmaZulu boss accused the BoG of remaining silent when they should be speaking out against what he viewed as blatant flouting of the rules. For all intense and purposes, Sokhela is damn right, Ms Madlala who is also Chairperson of Gold Arrows soccer team, which plays in the same league where she is acting CEO, has been at the helm for over three years. Is the BoG as well as Mthethwa blind to the blatant conflict of interest in this case.
If Mthethwa had carried his threat of derecognising CSA it would have meant that they (CSA) would not be able to claim to the International Cricket Council that it represents cricket in South Africa. The Minister, who was hell bent on derecognising CSA, has however on the other hand, done nothing about the PSL’s blatant conflict of interest. Sokhela believes it is against corporate governance (practice) for Madlala to continue as CEO of the league as she has a vested interest in Arrows. “Already the makeup of the Exco was putting us on thin ice because the notion was that you can’t have club owners sitting on the Exco,” he told TimesLive. “Then we decided to go one step worse by appointing a club owner to be the CEO of the league.”
Sokhela rightfully believes that the league must find a proper CEO to run that office and the functioning and operations of the league be handled by somebody who is capable, who knows corporate governance and who has no vested interest in any club. Not only that but also the blatant flouting of the King Governance Principles whose purpose is to create an ethical culture in organisations, improve their performance and increase the value they create, ensure there are adequate and effective controls in place and legitimacy to mention but a few.
In essence, in accordance with governance principles, the Board of Governors should be run by an independent board and not by chairpersons of the clubs. The principle of separation of powers – the powers vested in and exercise by the legislature (the organ of the sport that makes the rules), the executive (the organ responsible for the day-to-day running of the sport) and the judiciary (the disciplinary body that enforces the sport governing body’s rules) must be clearly separated to ensure legitimacy of the governing body. Not all sports have this in place or the lines are blurred more so in the PSL, as pointed out by Sokhela.
The separation of powers is a fundamental tenet of democracy which applies equally to sport to provide ‘checks and balances’ on the powers exercised by a governing body. Sport has over a number of years exhibited on too many occasions chronic failures in its governance meaning many sports governing bodies, be they international federations or national governing bodies, are unfit for purpose and have forfeited the right to have a pragmatic attitude to the integrity of sport, be it on or off the field of play.
Sport can no longer believe it should be treated differently than any other sector in society, that it is in some way unique, because good governance engenders trust between all stakeholders allowing sport to flourish from both competitively and commercially. Only the highest possible standards of ethics and governance can now suffice.
NB. The article was first published in the Mirror Newspaper.