Statement by Donovan May, President of Eastern Province Cricket (EPC):
Instead of making wild and libellous statements on social media and staging publicity stunts the self-styled “leaders” calling for the dissolution of the Eastern Province Cricket Board and resignation of myself as President should follow due process.
All our clubs know that our doors are open for discussion – as long as it is for the good of cricket and not to pursue the private agendas of individuals. All they need do is to follow a process which we have already established, and to which they agreed when they joined EP Cricket.
The refusal of Mr Sipho Nondlwana, who is the face of the campaign – and his anonymous backers – to make use of the structures available to them is clear evidence that they do not have a valid case against the current EPC leadership.
We have identified the people behind Mr Nondlwana. Some are well known for attempting to destabilise Eastern Province Cricket, and were directly or indirectly responsible for the company being put under administration in 2003 and 2013. They are back to once again plunder the coffers.
In the media articles quoting Mr Nondlwana it is interesting to see that he asks for a meeting to discuss his concerns – note, not the concerns of our cricket-playing members. This makes it clear that he has a personal quarrel with Eastern Province Cricket, and is using the clubs as a smokescreen.
For the record, we have not received any request – formal or informal – for a meeting with him.
Also for the record is the fact that this board has taken EP Cricket from the brink of collapse to having enjoyed a winning season at all levels for a number of years.
I was part of the EPC board when we took the company out of administration under the leadership of the late Dr Raymond Uren in 2004. Again, I came in 2013 when the company once again was under administration to fix it.
It must be noted that members of the board are not paid for their time – their contribution is voluntary and for the love of the game. I must emphasise that we are not in it for the money. Any payments from EP Cricket are for documented expenses.
Now we see an attempt to derail the hard work of the board by self-serving individuals who will destroy anything in their path to gain power and access to the bank account.
Let us look at some of our successes on the field:
Our high-performance team has been in the silverware for the past three years – winning the Africa T20 Cup and recently joint winners of the three-day cup.
Furthermore, we have produced a number of Protea players.
This year Warriors came close to winning the CSA T20 Challenge, losing by just 11 runs to Lions.
Eastern Province Provincial also shared the 4-Day national provincial Title with the Multiply Titans in April.
Locally at club level close to 1 500 cricket matches were played under the auspices of EPC during the last season. We have made sure that all games were played in the Nelson Mandela Bay jurisdiction as we took it upon ourselves to ensure that all facilities were ready to be played.
We have also assisted some of the clubs that had problems this past season.
At a foundation level more schools are playing cricket, and there is steady growth in women’s’ and junior cricket.
We have all the statistics to prove that we are doing our jobs – and doing them well. Recently we were proud to present 63 awards to players and officials at all levels of the game in the Eastern Cape – that shows the depth of support for cricket in the province.
Our hubs that have been set up to assist with school cricket in the PDI areas are functioning well and producing cricketers. We are happy to share the statistics.
From a governance perspective the board and management are stable and we have the money we need in the bank in order to pay our loans. The funds that we get from cricket SA are ring-fenced, and we are able to provide additional support through funds that we generate as EP Cricket.
St George’s Park has been upgraded, and is now back to its former glory.
The clubs and public in the province recognise this and so does the cricket world. There was angry response from a number of clubs listed as being signatories of the call for a motion of no confidence in the Board and myself that the Herald saw fit to print on Tuesday without due consideration to get our story.
As with the so-called petition delivered with much fanfare in April there are indications that many of the signatures were obtained fraudulently or under false pretences.
Some of the clubs listed do not even play cricket under the EPC banner.
One club has alerted us in a letter to the fact that it has been added to the list through a fraudulent signature.
In my hand I have a statement from another club member stating that he was not even in town when he was supposed to have signed the document. But his name and a signature are there on the document.
Because of these discrepancies we have asked Mr Nondlwana to authenticate whether he had the mandate from the clubs that signed a petition calling for my removal and also with all the other so-called grievances.
Mr Nondlwana undertook to revert by the 18th of April 2019. However, to date he has failed to do so. More than a month later he has failed to demonstrate the signatures on the document were obtained following no due process within the clubs.
He has yet to prove that a single signatory was given the mandate by their club to sign the list of grievances.
Instead he is making unsubstantiated, unfounded and, frankly, libellous accusations about myself, other board members and the management of EP Cricket in the all media platforms. We have all the evidence as gathered.
Legal steps are being taken in order to protect our own reputations and that of the company as it took us years to clear the bad reputation it had after it was put under administration.
We are still feeling the effects as it is proving extremely difficult to sign up sponsors. The hijacking attempt fronted by Mr Nondlwana has set us back further.
Companies will not look at us due to this negative publicity created by this person and his so called #save ep cricket leadership.
It must also be made clear that some of his backers lost out badly at the last annual general meeting. They tried to rig the vote, with up to 10 proxies per person, although our constitution only allows for one per duly mandated club representative.
They now see fit to try another route to destroy what has been built up.
The actions of Mr Nondlwana and his backers have already led to the withdrawal of R1.5 million in sponsorship which would have gone to local cricket development.
Understandably the sponsor withdrew when the detractors started spreading the lie that we were using equipment to bribe clubs.
Mr Nondlwana has also seen fit to take on our auditors PWC which were mandated by Cricket SA to oversee all auditing functions at all affiliates around the country by accusing the auditors of collusion in the support of a specific nominee to appease clubs.
This matter is now with their legal department.
Should it be established that there was any criminal wrongdoing on the part of Mr Nondlwana, his backers or any other parties, the public can be rest assured that criminal charges will be laid against the perpetrators.
Sadly, this is not the first time that Mr Nondlwana has attempted to disrupt cricket in the Eastern Cape.
A few years back he was employed as a development manager and dismissed by Border Cricket for was sowing dissention between the clubs in the region to overthrow the board for his own benefit.
Subsequently, as EP Cricket, we decided to give him another chance by contracting him to assist in improving club cricket. He failed abysmally, ironically in the area in which he is now agitating. If he had succeeded in his job then the clubs would be a lot better off.
It was, therefore, decided not to offer his company any future work.
Despite this record of failure, Mr Nondlwana has applied for both the CEO and Cricket Services Manager positions. He did not have the necessary qualifications and his track record speaks for itself.
The positions were then filled by a more seasoned CEO in Jessie Chellan and recently Colin Gxowa from the Gauteng Lions. We have determined that the claims that Mr Gxowa was fired from the Gauteng Lions are false.
Here I must point out that the board does not get involved in operational matters such as the appointment of staff or service providers as this is done by the operational staff. The board only appoints the CEO, who reports to the board.
We do not get involved with the day to day running of the company. That is the job of the CEO and his staff.
There is a very able and competent team under Mark Williams. They are guided by the policies, procedures and processes which have been approved by the board and its committees.
All expenditure has to be motivated and budgeted for. Cricket SA will either not release funds for non-allocated expenditure, or will take legal action to recover any money that has been misspent for ring-fenced projects.
This is bad news for those wanting to gain access to the surplus which has been built up. References on social media to the millions the company has in the bank have sparked interest from those who want to loot the company.
The coffers of EP Cricket have been raided before by those with no interest in the game, and we now have measures in place to prevent it happening again. You may remember that the company was put under administration in 2013 after it had been suffering major losses.
Poor corporate governance had led to the company owing money to SARS, to service providers, and for legal costs incurred. Added to this was instability at board level. EP Cricket was on the brink of bankruptcy.
The people responsible for that mess want to get back into power.
Our only interest as a board is in growing the sport of cricket and raising young talent in the province. Our success is evident in the number of past and present Protea players the province has produced.
As a board we, therefore, do not ignore the challenges facing clubs and this is country-wide and across sporting codes.
Recognising the financial challenges facing clubs we do not charge affiliation fees, unlike other sporting codes.
We also assist clubs with balls and traveling costs.
We assist our black clubs in Uitenhage to the tune of about R40 000 every year to stage their Easter Tournament.
When clubs need equipment, we help where we can and when the budget allows.
We also welcome input from the clubs.
All the district leadership have been asked to meet with their clubs in order to identify any problems and ways that we can do more for cricket in the Eastern Province. This is where all clubs have a forum in which to state their concerns. We spent a good deal of time last year putting together the geopolitical alignment structures namely Nelson Mandela Bay Cricket Association (NMBCA) and Sarah Baartman Cricket Association (SBCA).
There is, of course, only so much we can do. Clubs are not funded by EP Cricket or Cricket SA because we simply do not have the money. They have to source their own funding. As with other sporting codes we cannot and will not pay clubs to play.
Facilities, for example, are the responsibility of the municipalities in which the game is played.
The only facility we manage is St George’s Park, as it is an international ground.
However, our financial situation is such that EP Cricket was able to make R1 million available last season for upgrades to facilities.
The money was not intended to be spent all at once, but on certain projects in order to maximise the impact.
It has been brought to my attention that some of the members that are part of this grouping calling for my resignation are after the money. They want to be allocated projects without following the due tender process.
On a personal level, Mr Nondlwana has accused me of exploiting children in front of the television cameras because we invited kids from the Northern Areas to spend an evening away from the violence/killings to enjoy a game of cricket in safety at the last Mzanzi cricket game where their heroes like AB de Villiers and others were.
The invitation was not from us. It was from the Mount Road Police Cluster, and was sanctioned by SA Cricket, the South African Police Service and SABC. This was a programme from the “Safer City Project”. The hosts of the children for the evening included the Provincial Police Commissioner and Cluster Commander and all the police leadership. The Mayor was invited but had to attend another sporting code on the night.
If taking children from disadvantaged areas out for a night to give them a taste of life outside the ganglands and to see the other side of life where they can see that there is hope then I am guilty. These kids’ lives have been transformed for good.
In short, what we are faced with is a dirty tricks campaign aimed at giving access to the funds currently in the bank to certain individuals. Promises have been made to certain individuals that EP Cricket can help solve their personal and business financial problems.
The detractors refuse to follow the correct procedures, because they know that they do not have a case.
All due processes in the appointment or dismissal of staff and in the management of service providers are fully documented and have followed due process and the policies laid down by EPC.
Instead, they are manipulating the media and resorting to other tricks, such as visiting board and club members in their homes late at night and lying to them in order to get them to resign and to sign documents that they are not aware of. We have the evidence.
This also smacks of intimidation and harassment.
As a board we will not be intimidated. Nor will we let EP Cricket slide back into bankruptcy.
My position at EPC and CSA has not changed, as confirmed in my last correspondence in the media and the subsequent letter from the CSA president.
Our focus is on cricket and not personal gain. Our board is made up of good quality individuals that only has cricket and the business at heart
Any club and not individuals who believes we are not fulfilling our mandate as a board or company is urged to follow due process.