Cricket SA vs Business Day

Complainant: Cricket SA

Lodged by: Altaaf Kazi

Article: “Cricket SA blames it on Madiba”

Author of article:  Telford Vice

Date: 19 July 2013

Respondent: Business Day

Complaint

Cricket SA (CSA) complains about a story in Business Day, headlined “Cricket SA blames it on Madiba”, and published on 10 July 2013.

CSA complains that the:

  • statement that it has “blamed its failure to meet another deadline to appoint a CE on Nelson Mandela’s health” was inaccurate; and
  • headline was misleading and damaging.

Analysis

The story, written by Telford Vice, was about the upcoming appointment of a new CEO for CSA. This body had reportedly failed to meet another deadline and allegedly blamed former President Mandela’s health for this state of affairs.

Inaccurate statement

The sentence in dispute said: “Cricket SA has blamed its failure to meet another deadline to appoint a CE on Nelson Mandela’s health.”

CSA denies that it has at any stage indicated to Vice that it blamed Mandela’s health on not having appointed a CEO or having delayed such an appointment for that reason. Kazi says that the sports body told Vice that it had postponed all the meetings that were scheduled for the first week of July in view of the “issues” surrounding former president Mandela. He says that three short-listed candidates would be presented to the Board during the middle of July.

The newspaper says that Vice’s conclusion was a “perfectly natural one to make” – given the CSA’s explanation for why it had delayed appointing a CEO. It adds that “…it’s not our fault that CSA has decided to jump on the Madiba health bandwagon as an excuse for why it hasn’t happened”.

Kazi replies to this response as follows: “I’m also not going to run away from the fact that we postponed all our meetings and events scheduled for the first week of July due to the uncertainty around the health of our former president…”

I note that the story did reflect the abovementioned statement.

This is the odd thing: CSA itself said Mandela’s health was the reason why “all meetings” were postponed – the statement in dispute is therefore essentially correct.

Misleading, damaging headline

CSA complains that the headline was misleading and damaging towards its reputation.

Given my decision that the sentence in dispute did not breach the Press Code, it follows that I also believe that the headline (that merely reflected that sentence) also complied with the requirements of the Code.

Finding

The complaint is dismissed.

Appeal

Our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven working days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Adjudication Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Johan Retief

Press Ombudsman