CSA's tearful Majola only followed Bacher 'precedent'

Cricket South Africa chief executive, Gerald Majola broke down several times on Tuesday as he gave evidence to the ministerial committee investigating the affairs of the sport.

In a voice cracking with emotion, Majola talked about the damage the allegations against him—of running cricket like a personal fiefdom and not disclosing multimillion-rand bonuses from the Indian Premier League to his board in contravention of the Companies Act—had had on himself and his family.

Armed with two lawyers, Viwe Notsha and Maz Boqwana, and CSA finance officer Naasei Appiah, Majola admitted to having contravened the Companies Act by not notifying the CSA board in writing about the R1.3-million bonus he had negotiated for himself from the IPL.

But, said Majola, in his defence, he was merely following a “precedent” which had started several years earlier when South Africa hosted the Cricket World Cup in 2003 and cricket’s then-head honcho, Ali Bacher, was awarded a R5-million bonus that was not disclosed to CSA’s remuneration committee. This, according to Majola, was on top of a portion of the R9-million bonus that was divided amongst the CSA directors.

A tearful Majola said this had set a precedent for bonuses and non-disclosure at subsequent international tournaments held in South Africa, including the 2007 World Cup.

This was because the money “comes out of tournament expenses, not the CSA. That has always been the understanding,” said Majola.

Later, he said: “I had absolutely no idea about the requirements of the Act. I’m the first one to concede that I have not disclosed as per the Companies Act because of the precedents.”

When pressed on the issue by committee chairperson, retired judge Chris Nicholson, he said: “What is troubling you, sir, is a precedent on the issue. For us, performance bonuses are dealt with separately from tournament bonuses and that was accepted by the board in 2007.”

He also contradicted the evidence given by Don McIntosh, his chief finance officer at the time of the 2009 IPL, who had told the committee last week that Majola had drawn up a schedule of bonuses to be paid and the calculations used to award various employees, including himself (at eight times his monthly salary).

Said Majola: “I have never decided on my own payment. The only one [to decide on bonuses] is the tournament director who was Don McIntosh. Don McIntosh followed the same method as previous tournaments.”

Majola also asked for the testimony to be “dismissed”. Later he said for all his hard work at the tournament he “deserved the bonus”.

On why there was a veil of secrecy pulled over the heads of agreement signed between CSA and the IPL, which included Majola requiring his president Mtutuzile Nyoka to sign a confidentiality agreement before seeing the heads of agreement between the CSA and IPL, Majola said it was required “for control” and what the Board of Control for Cricket in India had required.

On why CSA had signed away stadiums, suites and parking to the IPL during the 2009 tournament, in exchange for a guaranteed $3-million payment to the sports body, Majola said: “If we’ve given too much [to the IPL], its because we have given too much before.”

He also took swipes at Nyoka, saying that the former CSA president had himself approved a personal R495 000 international travel budget and a R110 000 national budget and said: “I’d like to correct the word ‘friends’. We grew up together, but I have never been his friend.”

Reminiscent of the cheerleaders in skimpy outfits that usually adorn IPL 20-over matches, Majola arrived at the hearings with his own detachment of supporters: family members including his son, CSA board members and friends—sadly none in the sort of shape one has come to expect from the IPL.

His mood and attitude also shifted several times during the hearings. When his lawyer, Notshe, led evidence, Majola grew in confidence but when pressed on the hard questions from Nicholson and his committee members, Freeman Nomvalo and Zolisa Zwakala, he grew increasingly emotional. When addressing the media afterwards, and with television cameras squarely trained on him, the CSA chief executive broke down and shed a few tears.

Niren Tolsi

Niren Tolsi

Niren Tolsi is a freelance journalist.His areas of interest include social justice; citizen mobilisation and state violence; protest; the constitution and the constitutional court and football. Read more from Niren Tolsi

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