Judge Yacoob steps down as CSA interim board chairman after verbally abusing journalist

South Africa

He is the fourth board chairman to vacate the role, voluntarily or otherwise, since Chris Nenzani left office as CSA president last August

Judge Zak Yacoob, the chairman of Cricket South Africa’s interim board, has stepped down following the publication of a telephone conversation between him and a South African journalist, in which Yacoob used language that was abusive.

He is the fourth board chair to vacate the role, voluntarily or otherwise, since Chris Nenzani left office as CSA president last August, and has done so with less than a month to go before the board’s term is up.

The recording, between Sunday Times journalist Tiisetso Malepa and Yacoob is of an interview in which Malepa asks the Yacoob about allegations made by suspended acting CEO Kugandrie Govender that the judge had treated her unfairly and offered her money to seek legal counsel. Yacoob called Malepa “a dishonest, irresponsible idiot,” and said Malepa had “no right to ask me those questions.” The newspaper made the full recording available on their website at the weekend.

On Tuesday, Yacoob “apologised unreservedly,” in a statement issued by the interim board but by Wednesday he stepped down “to protect the integrity of the board and in the best interests of cricket.”

The country’s sports minister Nathi Mthethwa, who imposed the interim board on CSA last November following months of administrative upheaval, confirmed he had taken “time to engage with the judge to agree on the best way forward on the matter. By mutual agreement, it was felt that the judge should recuse himself from chairing the interim board.”

Dr Stavros Nicolaou will chair the board for the remainder of their tenure – due to end in mid-February – by which time CSA should have convened an AGM and have a framework to elect a new, mostly independent board. “Whilst the minister still awaits a formal update on progress made by the Interim Board, he remains optimistic that the final report will contribute positively to the process of reforming South African cricket. He also hopes that the recommendations made will enable CSA to convene their delayed AGM, where a new Board will be elected,” a statement from Mthethwa’s office read.

The judge’s departure comes on the eve of Govender’s disciplinary hearing, which is set to get underway on Thursday and further deepens the leadership crisis at CSA. The organisation currently has its third acting CEO in the last six months after Thabang Moroe was fired last year.

Incidentally, among the charges that detailed Moroe’s misconduct was bringing CSA into disrepute for revoking the accreditation of five journalists during the 2019 Mzansi Super League (MSL), as well as excessive expenditure on alcohol and misinforming the board about the contracts CSA had entered into, in which service-providers did not fulfil their obligations despite being paid.

CSA can embark on the process of appointing a new CEO after a permanent board is put in place.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent

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