Govt throws weight behind Arendse

South Africa’s government threw its weight behind embattled Cricket South Africa (CSA) president Norman Arendse on Tuesday by calling for an increase in the number of black players in national teams.

Arendse angered selectors and CSA chief executive Gerald Majola by vetoing the squad chosen by national selectors to tour Bangladesh two weeks ago because it contained just four black players.

Arendse accused coach Mickey Arthur of not adhering to CSA’s racial transformation policy of including six black players in a 14-man team and laid disciplinary charges against him, while Arthur reacted by filing his own complaint against Arendse.

Arendse sought a meeting with the Ministry of Sport and Recreation’s Portfolio Committee, chaired by Butana Komphela, who described the criticism received by Arendse as “an attack on transformation in cricket”.

“You must refuse it, you must be resilient. Transformation is non-negotiable. We have taken over this country to make it a place where we are all comfortable,” Komphela said.

“We must build this country through unity and through sport, we have all seen how united this country becomes as soon as one national team wins.
All of us, even the president [Thabo Mbeki], supported the Springboks when they won the World Cup.

“People asked me ‘why’ and I said ‘they might be white, probably by accident, but they are South Africans, it doesn’t make them lesser South Africans.’

“But our agenda is to tell them to transform and that is not going to stop. We are unapologetic about that because the truth is very simple: we all need to feel like we have a place in the national team.”

The meeting was attended by seven of the 11 provincial presidents, several other members of CSA’s general council, the highest decision-making body in the game, and approximately 10 members of the portfolio committee.

“We are committed to having a free and fair South Africa without fear—we don’t want to create a Kenya or a Zimbabwe here—but there is a section of the community that pushes us to the limit and tries to make us regret what Nelson Mandela has done for this country, and we don’t want to regret that,” said Komphela.

“We are pleading with them not to push us that far. People say sport should not be political. Sport has always been political in South Africa, it has been used as a guillotine for black people. Now we want sport to unite people and not be what it was before.” - Reuters

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