Alexander must go

RYAN VREDE says SA Rugby president Mark Alexander’s tacit support of the disgraced Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy and a clutch of his cronies is shameful and must signal the end of his reign.

Alexander was one of only two South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee board members who voted against implementing the recommendations of independent advocate, Anton Myburgh SC, who chaired the disciplinary inquiry against Reddy, Vinesh Maharaj and Jean Kelly on 4-7 December in Johannesburg.

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In a report sent to 75 federations, and which is in possession of, Alexander’s ‘no’ vote is clearly captured. Yet on Friday, speaking to Sport24’s Lloyd Burnard, he claims: ‘I never voted “yes” and I never voted “no”… I asked for one more step.’ has confirmed through a source in a senior position on the Sascoc board that Alexander is lying. ‘He voted no,’ the source confirmed. ’Simple as that.’

The ‘step’ Alexander refers to, is for the defendants to be given an opportunity to respond to the charges. The truth is they were afforded this opportunity.

Reddy tried to avoid the hearing by claiming to be sick and thus unable to attend. This claim was dismissed upon inspection of his medical certificate which was, at best, vague in its claimed diagnosis, which simply read ‘medical condition’. Maharaj and Kelly couldn’t afford their lawyer’s fees and thus missed the hearing.

After an exhaustive investigation, Advocate Myburgh recommended: ‘The summary dismissal of all three employees’.

Reddy was most heavily implicated in the findings, with Advocate Myburgh determining that:

– He had ‘acted dishonestly and/or in material breach of his fiduciary duties as CEO’ and referred to ‘fictitious projects’.

– He had acted in breach of the finance policy when it came to an agreement with PCS Consulting Services.

– He had acted in breach of Sascoc’s code of conduct by failing to disclose a conflict of interest in setting up the controversial Ekhaya and bid exhibition at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Reddy was also found guilty of sexual harassment, a charge which involved sending a Sascoc employee an ‘erotic calendar’ via email and asking the colleague to ‘identify her birthday position’.

Yet, despite the overwhelming weight of evidence against the trio, Alexander couldn’t bring himself to vote for their dismissal and, in Reddy’s case, a man who saw it fit to exert his professional power to sexually harass an employee.

Alexander’s ‘no’ vote is an endorsement of not only the charged, but also their devious acts. It speaks directly to Alexander’s integrity, morals and values.

This is the man who is tasked with leading South African rugby.

His failure to do the right thing rounds out a disastrous couple of months for the man who was appointed to the position in October 2016. In late 2017, he and his team somehow lost a Rugby World Cup bid, despite South Africa being the recommended candidate. This was a third failure in as many attempts.

Alexander alluded to foul play on the part of their competitors when asked to explain the latest defeat. There may be a degree of truth in that, but it also exposed him as impossibly naive and a lightweight as it relates to his capacity in the extensive behind-the-scenes hustling securing a bid of this magnitude demands.

Indeed, Alexander’s presidency has been marked by chronic struggles to deliver on promises he has made in key areas.

At the outset of his presidency, he prioritised the Springboks’ swift improvement.

‘Our No 1 priority is a turnaround strategy for the Springbok team and that will be looked at immediately and decisively,’ he declared in November 2016.

The Springboks have since endured one of their worst periods in professional history, suffering record defeats to New Zealand and Ireland, losing to Italy and finishing the 2017 season in sixth place in the World Rugby rankings.

Alexander failed to act decisively in dealing with Springbok head coach Allistair Coetzee’s clear and debilitating incompetence, backing him for another season, one which ended with the Boks winning just two Tests in the Rugby Championship and a two from four on the end-of-year tour.

Alexander claimed to or intimated at having positively impacted transformation across all levels of the game, assisted in steadying an organisation with deep and chronic financial struggles, improved the structure and sustainability of member unions and redesigned SA Rugby’s competition structure.

I don’t have enough cyber space to counter the validity of such ludicrous claims, but the South African rugby public isn’t stupid. The evidence, as it pertains to these key areas, is there to be examined.

The next presidential election is scheduled for this year. Alexander shouldn’t even make it that far, not with his latest grotesque dereliction of duty.

One can only guess why he voted ‘no’ in the case of the Sascoc mob. There is no guesswork required when making an absolute assessment of the calibre of man leading our game.

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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Mariette Adams