Former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith cleared of racism allegations

by IANS |

Johannesburg, April 25 (IANS) Former Cricket South Africa (CSA) Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith has been cleared by two independent arbitrators of racism allegations against him, which emanated from CSA's Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) process.

In December 2021, Dumisa Ntsebeza, the SJN Ombudsman, had made "tentative findings" regarding various persons, including Graeme Smith, but indicated that he was not in a position to make "definite findings" on allegations before him. The Ombudsman had recommended that a further formal process should take place to achieve finality on these issues.

CSA followed these recommendations by initiating an arbitration process regarding Smith before two independent advocates, Ngwako Maenetje and Michael Bishop.

During the full arbitration process, both CSA and Smith were legally represented and witnesses were called and cross-examined by both sides, and the findings and evidence from the SJN process were placed before the arbitrators.

In the arbitration award, Maenetje and Bishop determined that, "There was no evidentiary basis to conclude that Mr Smith engaged in racial discrimination against Mr Thami Tsolekile (former cricketer) during the period 2012/2014. There was no evidentiary basis to conclude that Mr Smith was racially biased against black leadership at CSA.

"There was no evidentiary basis to conclude Mr Smith's appointment of Mr Mark Boucher, rather than Mr Enoch Nkwe, as coach of the men's Proteas team in 2019 amounted to unfair racial discrimination. The arbitration award directed CSA to pay Mr Smith's costs," the advocates said in the judgement.

Lawson Naidoo, Chair of the CSA Board, said, "The manner in which these issues have been dealt with and resolved by the arbitration proceedings confirms CSA's commitment to deal with the SJN issues in a manner that treats them with utmost seriousness but also ensures fairness, due process and finality.

"Now that finality on these processes has been reached, it is appropriate to recognise the extraordinary contribution that Graeme (Smith) has made to South African cricket, first as the longest-serving Test captain in cricket history and then as Director of Cricket from 2019 to 2022. His role as the DoC has been critical in rebuilding the Proteas men's team in particular and has laid a solid foundation for his successor."

Smith's contract as Director of Cricket ended in March this year and CSA has publicly advertised the position.

"We fully appreciate that after his time as the DoC, Graeme wants new challenges in the commercial and cricket worlds. He has a long career ahead of him and we very much hope that he will still work in the cricket world in appropriate capacities going forward," added Naidoo.

CSA said it "appreciates" it has been difficult for Smith to endure the "unwarranted public disclosures" of his personal information, including his remuneration, during the SJN process.

"On behalf of the staff and players at CSA, I would like to thank Graeme for all that he did as the Director of Cricket. He put up his hand at a particularly tumultuous period for CSA and he has often gone beyond his contracted duties to assist CSA during his term," said CSA CEO Pholetsi Moseki.

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