By Zaheer Cassim
It’s game over for Gerald Majola. The former cricket boss has used up his final review and the third umpire has ruled that he needs to hit the showers.
In March, Majola, at the time the chief executive of Cricket South Africa (CSA), was suspended after he was found guilty of paying staff in the organisation R4.7-million in bonuses in 2009 without the approval of the board or the remuneration committee. He also benefited from his own largesse, and he awarded himself a bonus of R1.8-million after the country successfully hosted the Indian Premier League and the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy that year.
He tried to appeal his suspension, but lost his appeal on Friday, 19 October. Advocate Karel Tip, who was in charge of his disciplinary hearing, recommended that Majola be suspended.
“His [Majola’s] conduct in relation to the bonuses, his continued denial of any wrongdoing, his active part in events that have brought disruption and division within cricket, and his avoidance of a prompt resolution of the matter through due and prescribed processes, have materially contributed to bringing CSA – and the sport of cricket in this country – into disrepute,” Tip said.
“Despite many opportunities, Mr Majola failed to disclose the bonus when he had a clear and ongoing duty to do so … Even worse, Mr Majola expressly lied about it, avowing more than once that he ‘had not received a cent’. In so doing, he inter alia directly misled the [Sports] minister and deputy minister and, in turn, allowed Parliament to be similarly misled.”
Reuters reports that Majola did not attend the disciplinary hearing at which he was fired and has taken the matter to the Labour Court.
Majola’s bonus lay at the heart of the payments scandal that has dogged the sport for the last three years. The payments and bonuses were not disclosed to the CSA’s remuneration committee, as required by the Company’s Act.
First to call out the irregularity, CSA president Mtutuzeli Nyoka insisted on an investigation, and one was opened in 2010. But it was an internal investigation into the allegations through the Kahn commission, headed by AK Kahn. Issuing its findings in November 2010, this commission cleared Majola of all charges of impropriety. It cautioned Majola but ratified the bonuses.
But Nyoka called for an external investigation into “deceptive and corrupt” activities at the CSA. In February 2011, a vote of no confidence by the board removed Nyoka from the presidential chair, but he was reinstated by the court. A KPMG audit report followed. It found irregularities with the pay out of bonuses. The Company’s Act stipulates that disclosure must be done to the board of directors, in detail, and in a specific way.
Nyoka continued to call for an inquiry and in October 2011 the CSA board once more fired him. That same month, Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula appointed a ministerial committee to investigate the affair.
The Nicholson inquiry, under the chair of retired High Court Judge Chris Nicholson, began in November. Formal hearings began on 23 November 2011. At the beginning of March this year, Nicholson found that Majola had intentionally tried to cover a breach of the Companies Act.