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South Africa's wait continues as battle rumbles on

The battle between Gerald Majola and Mtutuzeli Nyoka has already lasted a year, and while it continues Cricket South Africa can't escape the issues that have been raised

Firdose Moonda

July 30, 2011

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Gerald Majola and Lalit Modi at a press conference, Johannesburg, March 24, 2009
One of the main issues in the legal wrangles Cricket South Africa is currently involved in pertains to the way bonuses from hosting tournaments such as the IPL are dealt with © AFP
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There was a sense of familiarity at the conclusion of CSA's financial audit in Johannesburg. It wasn't the sound of blame bouncing off the walls or the echo of innocence weaving through them; it wasn't even the clamour of the two coming together. It was simply the silence of waiting.

The special board meeting started half an hour later than its scheduled time of 10.00am and was expected to be over by 12:30pm. By one o'clock, the administrators had only emerged for a tea break. At 2:15pm, they had surfaced again for lunch. It was only just after 3:00pm that they materialised with a conclusion. But, it was hardly a surprise to hear that the decision would involve only more waiting.

Legal opinion will be sought on the possible breaching of the Companies' Act by chief executive Gerald Majola, which further draws out a battle that already lasted a full year. A battle that is, essentially, between two men.

Majola, world cricket's longest serving chief executive, versus his president Mtutuzeli Nyoka, who says he is only trying to root out corruption. Majola, the only chief executive in the world to have presided over the successful hosting of every major tournament in cricket versus Nyoka, who alleges that there was impropriety involved in some of the payments that took place as a result of those tournaments. At stake, according to both parties, is the good of the game and the process followed to attempt to preserve it is continuing along a rocky road with no solution in sight, yet.

Corporate governance, or lack thereof, is essentially what this battle is being fought over. It is about what happens when CSA gets money from an outside source, like the ICC or BCCI, and the channels that money goes through in order to get distributed to staff. While there has been no objection from any side about staff being paid for the work they do during non-CSA events, the concern is about declaration. CSA staff receive an annual bonus, as happens in most companies, for their work during the year and, in years when there is another tournament being hosted, an additional bonus. Majola is one such staff member, who received a bonus of R1.8 million (US$257,142) above his annual bonus.

Those bonuses, insiders have said, traditionally do not pass through the Remunerations Committee (REMCO), but tradition is not always right. Concerned parties, like Nyoka, feel that if some monies are allowed to bypass the board and REMCO, what will stop other monies from disappearing down that same channel? What is needed is for more careful and strict procedures to be instituted so that all bonuses are declared properly, the amounts can be ratified by the board and any double issuing of bonuses is avoided.

Without those systems in place, CSA appears to be an organisation that hides money and possibly even hands it out to employees improperly. Even if that is not the case, the absence of rigorous checking makes it look that way and, as has now been revealed, could be in contravention of the Companies' Act.

There were hints that the procedural problems at CSA were not simply mishaps or randoms acts of negligence but something more serious when some of its former board members raised concerns. The likes of Paul Harris, a former chief executive of Rand Merchant Bank, Hentie van Wyk, an accountancy professor, and Colin Beggs, a former managing director of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, have voiced grievances.

In other words, big boys who know about big money. The three were voted off the board last year but wrote a submission to the Khan Commission, CSA's internal inquiry into the bonus affair, and claim their statement was a means of accounting for what happened under their tenure.

 
 
Swerving in, out and around the procedures can also constitute misconduct because it allows for lack of transparency and creates a culture ripe for irregularity to grow
 

What exactly happened, in their tenure, or the current one, is still not entirely clear. So far, the only pieces that fit together are that neither the Khan commission nor the subsequent external inquiry conducted by KPMG has found money missing from CSA's accounts. Nyoka wanted an explanation of how an amount R68million (US$9,714,285) from a suspense account was spent. CSA have accounted for that money as funds used to run the IPL. The one concrete answer so far is that there has been no theft.

That does not mean there has been no wrongdoing. Swerving in, out and around the procedures can also constitute misconduct because it allows for lack of transparency and creates a culture ripe for irregularity to grow. It is into this murky water that the legal advisor that CSA, together with the South African Sports and Olympic Committee, appoints must plunge in order to clarify whether the procedural errors are serious enough to warrant further action.

It's clear that Nyoka wants the matter to progress in that direction. He has been the - often solitary - dissenting voice but also carries with him a chequered past. After an acrimonious tenure as president of the Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB) in 2002, Nyoka resigned, leaving many angry at his legacy.

They still see him as the man who started off as the patron saint of transformation but became part of the reason for its limited success. Racial infighting has plagued the GCB, who went through many threatened walkouts by its clubs of colour, who felt marginalised. It is them who believe that Nyoka didn't champion their cause enough and even crossed over to supporting the minority side.

Majola, by contrast, has the support of most of the unions in the country. To that majority, he is popular and charming. He has led South African cricket through a golden age, not in the trophy stakes, but certainly in the revenue ones. Majola is someone that people who are involved in the structures of cricket struggle to see as crooked, even if they secretly question why he deserved such a hefty bonus.

When this saga eventually ends, it likely that one of Nyoka or Majola will not be left standing. But, until the lawyers' make their pronouncements, both of them still are, albeit precariously. Until then, cricket will go back to waiting.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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