Arendse bowled out
So in the end the coup was successful, with Cricket South Africa president Norman Arendse standing down before the forces of the revolution even reached the palace gates—the only blood spilt was his own.
The controversial Cape Town advocate did, however, fire off a couple of shots of his own before falling on his sword, gaily blaming his demise on chief executive Gerald Majola and “anti-transformation” forces.
But only those with political agendas or who have had their heads in the sand during Arendse’s tumultuous, unhappy reign will believe his accusations will dent Majola’s and president-elect Mtutuzeli Nyoka’s enthusiasm for restoring harmony and real direction to Cricket South Africa.
If Arendse hoped to cast aspersions on Nyoka’s transformation credentials by roping in his buddy, Butana Komphela, the chair of Parliament’s sports portfolio committee but with little understanding of what is happening in sport at grassroots level in this country, then he failed dismally.
As Nyoka himself pointed out to the Mail & Guardian this week, if he was lacking in the transformation department, why on earth did the government, during Ngconde Balfour’s tenure as sports minister, appoint him as a member of the transformation commission that investigated cricket in 2002? Nyoka actually co-authored the document that came out of that commission and became Cricket SA’s Transformation Charter in 2003.
“I believe I was appointed because of my credentials in terms of transformation. It’s rather surprising that I have to explain my credentials again to the same government,” Nyoka said after Komphela had criticised him earlier this week.
A defiant Arendse said in his resignation statement: “On the charges that I want to take over the chief executive’s job and run cricket and that I acted unilaterally, I reject these charges with the contempt they deserve. I have a more than full-time legal practice and have no wish or desire, let alone the time, to run cricket. I have always been a part-time, unpaid, honorary official who served the game in the public interest.”
The national team would certainly have something to say about that after a series of selectoral interventions by Arendse, which threatened to tear the game apart before Majola’s intervention.
Like a malicious seer in some fantasy movie, Arendse was gathering his forces for a climactic battle in Johannesburg on September 26 when Cricket South Africa was due to hold fresh elections after combining their professional and amateur arms to form a new body.
Nyoka, on the other hand, had portrayed himself as a peacemaker and most people prefer peace to the sort of war-like atmosphere Arendse seems to love.
“The whole issue has exposed that there is a rift between administrators at the senior levels and, if anything, we were heading for more division,” Nyoka said.
“My top priority is to achieve unity in Cricket South Africa. Once we have done that, then the other challenges, such as transformation, development and the performance of the national team, will be easy to handle. But when divisions exist, it can only filter all the way down to the playing field,” he said.
As the man who unified Gauteng cricket after the board was split into white and black camps and fisticuffs were imminent three years ago, Nyoka comes to Cricket South Africa as a proven force for harmony.
But apart from losing out to someone who is just a lot nicer to be around, Arendse made the fatal mistake of making transformation the issue in the presidential race.
Apart from causing one of our best black bowlers, Charl Langeveldt, to jump ship, what else has Arendse achieved?
Even Majola had to scratch his head.
“I really don’t know, I can’t think of anything,” Cricket South Africa’s chief executive said on the morning his organisation was finally rid of its unpopular president.