CITIZEN.CO.ZA /27 NOVEMBER 2018 - 16.07 / ANA STAFF REPORTER
Things have become so muddled that the union has asked for Cricket South Africa to provide guidance.
The relationship between the under-pressure board and the clubs at North West Cricket has all but collapsed.
Dr Oupa Nkagisang, President of the North West cricket, speaking at the lunch time hand over during day 3 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and Bangladesh at Senwes Park on September 30, 2017 in Potchefstroom, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
“There’s no trust,” said one of seven club chairmen who attended a recent meeting to resolve some of the corruption and corporate governance issues at the union.
“Things are very bad,” he added.
When they arrived at the meeting the club chairmen were alarmed to see that two reports into the union’s financial affairs, which run to a combined total of over 200 pages, had been condensed into a four or five page summary.
They were not allowed to take the summaries away with them, and became suspicious that the summarised version did not tell the detailed story contained in the reports.
The clubs also left the four-hour-long meeting under the impression that this year’s AGM would take place in the second week of January.
On Tuesday morning they discovered that, contrary to what they understood, the AGM was now going to take place on Wednesday night.
They issued NWC’s cricket chief executive, HP Prinsloo, with a hand-delivered lawyer’s letter late Wednesday morning, saying the board’s decision to bring the AGM forward was done in bad faith.
The AGM will in all likelihood now take place in January as originally scheduled.
“We’re getting further legal representation,” said the same club chairman.
“We don’t care whether North West do their own forensic audit or if the money comes from CSA – we’re continuing with our fight to have the mess at the union cleaned up.”
The two reports, commissioned by former chief executive, Vincent Prior, and his board, were written by Deanne Howes, a respected labour lawyer, and relate to a six-month period in the second half of 2017 when the union was without a full-time chief executive.
The second of the two reports runs to 105 pages and details maladministration, inflated invoices for stadium upgrades, poor book-keeping and lack of board oversight.
Of particular concern in the report is the appointment of former employee, Leondra Smith, to project manage the stadium upgrades – something for which she was ill-qualified and did only reluctantly.
Smith first attempted to deal with contractors who had previously done work for the union but it was suggested by the NWC president, Oupa Nkagisang, to rather “source contractors within the community who could benefit from the opportunity of the upgrades,” wrote Howes in her report.
Smith took this on board, providing Nkagisang with a BBBEE-approved list she hoped would meet with his approval. “Shortly thereafter,” continues Howes, Smith was approached by a “Meshak from Nepaka” who told her that he was at Senwes Park, North West’s stadium, because he had heard they were looking for a quote on work to be done.
“Leondra,” continues Howes’ report, “was subsequently instructed to appoint the contractor due to the ‘time constraints’ despite them being several times more expensive than other contractors.”
In his two interviews with Howes (with his attorneys present), the president denies Smith’s claim that he rejected her list of BBBEE-approved contractors.
He denies, further, that “Leondra ever met with him to provide him with the names of BBBEE suppliers”.
Nkagisang was approached on three occasions for comment but declined to do so.
Although Smith was under pressure by the president to have the upgrades done quickly (North West were hosting the AfricaT20 Cup at the beginning on August 30, 2017) she nevertheless received two alternative quotes.
These were both “more than one million Rand cheaper”, found Howes, than Meshak from Nepaka’s quote.
Nevertheless, Nepaka got the work.
“As a result of failures to comply with internal procurement rules, NWC had paid for services at a dramatically inflated price. Such action has contributed to the financial erosion at the union,” says the report.
It is just this kind of waste and the North West president’s role in it that has the clubs in an uproar.
Howes writes in her report that she doesn’t have the financial acumen to undertake a lifestyle or forensic audit (“As we are not auditors, we cannot make findings on the financial issues raised,” she writes) but strongly recommends this should be the case.
So bad have things become that cricket services in the province have been compromised in certain cases. “I wouldn’t rule retrenchments out,” said a board member who didn’t want to be named.
In a press release on Friday North West said that their board “have decided to seek guidance from Cricket South Africa (CSA) following reports they have received from a group of auditors and lawyers concerning recent activities relating to the stadium upgrade at Senwes Park”.
Smith declined to comment and referred this journalist to Friday’s press release.
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