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Ken Borland

Bonus scandal like winter flu for Gauteng cricket

Posted on July 06, 2012 by Ken

Cricket South Africa may have been restored to reasonably good health, but like the nasty winter flu that just won’t go away, the bonus scandal is still causing all manner of coughs and splutters next door at the offices of the Gauteng Cricket Board.

While Gerald Majola reaped the whirlwind of his duplicated bonuses and has been blown away from the CSA offices, an icy wind is howling through the corridors of the Wanderers and its source is seemingly the same.

It was Gauteng cricket that first raised questions about Majola and his handling of the IPL and whether he was paid bonuses that were not in keeping with good governance, and the then-CSA CEO’s heavy-handed response was to remove the GCB board by way of the Langa Commission, using the lack of transformation in the province as an excuse.

A new board, headed by an interim administrator in former International Cricket Council president Ray Mali, was put in place in August 2010, with representation from each of the race groups involved in Gauteng cricket.

With the two-year term of that administration coming to an end in August, each of these groups is now seemingly jostling for position in what is becoming an ugly power struggle.

A group of Premier League clubs has accused Mali of either wanting to continue his stay or making decisions, such as extending acting CEO Cassim Docrat’s contract by a year, that will effect Gauteng cricket long after August.

Earlier this year, they attempted, unsuccessfully, to remove Mali and four other GCB directors, all of them black.

“When CSA placed Gauteng cricket under administration, there was never consensus, the clubs reluctantly agreed to what was meant to be an experimental structure. All sorts of things have been going on in the meantime and the clubs don’t feel they are effectively represented in Gauteng cricket anymore, because of this purely political act,” Keith Lister, who describes himself as a “volunteer in Gauteng cricket for 25 years” and is “assisting” the disenchanted Premier League clubs, told Mail & Guardian.

Lister says CSA are trying to run Gauteng cricket from across Corlett Drive.

“The clubs have rights and we won’t be bullied into being told what to do by CSA. They should be the servants of the provinces’ interests, but they want us to toe the line because of what they say is our history and because we brought the game into disrepute.

“Why do they think they have this power over us? Nowhere in the Langa Commission does it say in terms of Articles X, Y or Z that CSA has this power.

“And how did Gauteng cricket bring the game into disrepute? Who actually did?” Lister asks.

But both Mali and CSA acting CEO Jacques Faul have given assurances that the interim administration will end on August 31.

“My term ends on August 31, but this [attempt to oust him before that] affects the gains that have been achieved. There is a process, a formula, a way of doing things. Why has this happened after 21 months? Keith Lister was part of the process, they made submissions and this was the agreed-upon route, which must take its full course.

“I was not just imposed on the GCB, the structures agreed on my name which was put forward by [former GCB chairman] Mtutuzeli Nyoka,” Mali said.

Faul said there was no intention to extend the interim administration and he hoped that would bring an end to the bonus scandal.

“I am not aware that we are considering extending the period of administration and I am of the opinion that it will not be in the best interests of CSA or GCB to do that.

“We also note that no club objected to the administration for 21 months out of 24, and we are uncertain of the motive for doing so now. We do not see the matter, should it continue, being resolved within a month of the termination of administration and again question why certain individuals would want to do that at this very late stage.

“We can only hope that this is not a result of the division that was caused by the bonus scandal and that the GCB has become the battlefield for this very sad chapter of our cricket history. All indications are that the GCB will not be under administration after August 2012,” Faul said.

The new Gauteng cricket constitution is also set to be adopted at the AGM in August and could be the motive for the power struggle.

“Gauteng requires a new constitution and it is imperative to transform and restructure the administrative body. The board is committed to a new identity for Gauteng cricket that will reflect the different communities. We want to reshape the landscape of cricket in the province – there must be no domination of one group over another!” Mali said.

The chief stumbling block in the proposed new constitution is over voting rights: The old constitution gives Premier League clubs extra votes, while the proposal is to implement a system of one club, one vote, although Mali has indicated a willingness to compromise and have one team, one vote.

“The voting rights goes to the heart of the problem. The current board approved Premier League status for new clubs, which we objected to on cricketing and constitutional grounds. It increases the power of some clubs, while diluting the power of others,” Lister admits.

“Should a Sunday morning twenty20 club have the same power as a Premier League team? I understand the argument that the old traditionally white clubs are clinging to power, but I don’t think that’s so. There are responsible people taking care of the Premier League clubs and they support transformation in the Premier League.”

While the targets of the Lister-assisted clubs were all black, Mali says he does not believe the issue is a racial one.

“I won’t say it’s a racial issue. I would term it a power struggle,” he said.

The issue of power is clear when CSA acting president Willie Basson says things like: “Considering their history, they [Lister’s clubs] need to very seriously consider their positions and their actions from here onward. There are various options; CSA can withdraw or CSA can prolong the period of administration.” [Business Day, June 6]

The response of Daniel Phetla, the chairman of Alexandra Cricket Club, was “On the (Gauteng) board there have been murmurs that it could be extended. When people talk like that you start to wonder if we are moving towards a dictatorial situation; that’s a sign of Mugabeism.” [Business Day, June 22].

Lister has gone so far as to accuse CSA of wanting an Apartheid-style solution.

“CSA want three chambers of equal power based on colour. Dr Verwoerd would be so proud, he would say ‘I told you so’.

“That South Africans are not capable of solving their problems unless they’re in racial groupings is utter bullshit,” Lister said.

But is the love of the game in the province going to be enough for the people involved in Gauteng cricket to solve their complex problems?


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