Cricket bonus scam plagues Gauteng

The Gauteng Cricket Board’s administrator Ray Mali at the crease. He is being accused of trying to cling to his position. (Duif du Toit, Gallo Images)

The Gauteng Cricket Board’s administrator Ray Mali at the crease. He is being accused of trying to cling to his position. (Duif du Toit, Gallo Images)

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

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

It was Gauteng Cricket that first raised questions about Majola and his handling of the Indian Premier League and whether he was paid bonuses that were not in keeping with good governance – and Majola’s heavy-handed response was to remove the GCB board through the Langa Commission, using the lack of transformation in the province as an excuse.

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

But the two-year term of that admin­istration ends in August, and all the  groups appear to be jostling for position. A group of Premier League clubs has accused Mali of either wanting to continue his stay or making decisions, such as extending acting chief executive Cassim Docrat’s contract by a year, that will affect Gauteng cricket long after August. Earlier this year, they tried unsuccessfully to remove Mali and four other black directors.

Effectively represented
“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 any more, 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, said.

Lister also said CSA was 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.”

But both Mali and CSA acting chief executive 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 then] 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 chairperson] Mtutuzeli Nyoka,” Mali said.

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

“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 annual general meeting in August and could be the reason for the power struggle. The chief stumbling block in the proposed constitution is over voting rights: the old constitution gives Premier League clubs extra votes, but 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 go 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 said.

“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.”

Racial issue
Although the targets of the Lister-assisted clubs were all black, Mali said he did not believe the issue was racial. “I won’t say it’s a racial issue. I would term it a power struggle.”

The issue of power is clear when CSA acting president Willie Basson says things such as: “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.”

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.”.

Lister has gone as far as accusing 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’,” Lister said.

Will the love of the game in the province be enough for the people involved in Gauteng Cricket to solve their complex problems?

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