The main sticking point would seem to be a clause in the MOI that extends the transitional period recommended by the Langa Commission for six more years. This means the current three-chambered composition of the board – black, white and coloured/Indian clubs all voting for their own representatives – will continue.
“We’re not happy with the six-year transitional period because it means that the board will continue to be segregated into groups which is not constitutional. We’re not against the MOI as a whole, there were some good things to come out of the Langa Commission, but the document is unconstitutional at the moment. The three chambers just creates more division, but, in the spirit of compromise, we can go with the Langa recommendations for another two years,” Roger Burne, the chairman of Pirates Cricket Club, told Business Day.
Dan Phetla, the chairman of the Alexandra Cricket Club, said the six-year transitional period would just allow the current beneficiaries of the system even more opportunity to feather their own nests.
“We have an issue with it because a club like Alex has been around a long time [since 1995/96] but there is still a lot of work needed in our area. So six years is the time frame, but what are the measurable? Those wanting us to vote for the MOI are not including the other black clubs like us and they say clubs like Katlehong and Orange Farm are inconsequential. They’re not saying what must be achieved in those six years and extending the transitional period just gives more opportunity for more unaccountability,” Phetla said.
The initial challenge in getting the new MOI approved seemed to be getting the old “white” clubs and the northern black clubs, led by Alex, to agree to a new voting structure of one club, one vote, but they seem to be relaxed about this issue.
“One club, one vote is a sticking point and we put one team, one vote on the table, but it wasn’t well received. But I seriously believe we can sort that out in the next week-and-a-half,” Burne said.
“The voting structure is easily dealt with, one club, one vote is no problem,” Phetla said.
What is more chilling is that there seems to be a huge rift and power struggle between the black clubs in Gauteng, fuelled by a personality clash between Phetla and Soweto Cricket Club chairman Gordon Templeton.
While Templeton has belittled the legitimacy of Phetla as a black cricket administrator, the Alex leader has accused Soweto of channeling transformation resources to themselves and their allies at the expense of development clubs in the north.
The Concerned Cricket Fraternity, mostly comprising Soweto and their allies, had a major hand in the Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB) suspending Phetla and his Alex executive; a decision they are now fighting through Cricket South Africa’s dispute resolution process.
In the meantime, Templeton says the GCB constitution must continue with its tricameral approach giving black clubs the chance of voicing their concerns at board level.
“It’s necessary based on what happened previously. Since the Langa Commission, for the first time black clubs are speaking for themselves and each constituency has a voice on the board, which didn’t happen before. African clubs were the most disadvantaged and this is correcting the wrongs of the past.
“Based on previous experience, we need the separate chambers because, after 18 years of democracy, are we now equal in South Africa? The six-year transitional period is already a compromise because we proposed nine years. We’re dealing with correcting 300 years of wrongs and ill-gotten privileges, so how long is a piece of string?” Templeton said.
“Five million people live in Soweto, but there are only three cricket ovals, one of which, at the UJ Soweto campus, is not accessible to the general public. When will Soweto U13 to U19 teams compete with the other established schools in Gauteng and our kids don’t have to leave Soweto to make it? When these measurable and deliverables are in place, then we can scrap the transitional arrangement.”
But Phetla says the system is a farce because what happens when a mixed club like UJ –considered to be white and previously advantaged – elects an Indian chairman? Does he form part of the white chamber or the Indian chamber?
“It’s discrimination to say the black clubs must vote for black administrators, the whites most vote for whites and the Indians for Indians. It’s against the law and everyone should be able to vote for everyone. The MOI is a sound document but it’s flawed in that respect,” Phetla said.
While the failure to pass the new constitution was a blow to Gauteng cricket’s hopes of ending CSA’s partial administration of the board, CEO Cassim Docrat says it comes down to the traditionally white clubs using their loaded votes – they have nine votes each compared to just the one vote of the non-Premier League clubs – to stymie progress.
“We had a very good majority in favour of the new constitution, but seven clubs voted against it and they had the loaded vote. It’s frustrating that more than two-thirds are in favour and this objection comes to the table now at the end of the process,” Docrat said.
But both Burne and Phetla are adamant that they have expressed their concern over the MOI to Gauteng cricket for months.
Fortunately, efforts to mediate a compromise from both sides are on-going as those who voted against the MOI look to restore control of Gauteng cricket to the clubs.