Pitch set for second innings of cricket saga

2012-01-14 21:05

The second round of the slanging match between Gerald Majola, the country’s controversial cricket head, and his predecessor, Dr Ali Bacher, could begin this week.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula’s spokesperson said this week that Bacher would appear before the commission of inquiry into the so-called bonus scandal, which has tainted Cricket South Africa (CSA) since August two years ago.

Unauthorised bonuses of millions of rands were paid to Majola and about 40 other CSA employees two years ago for presenting the Indian Premier League tournament and the Champions Trophy in South Africa in 2009.

Mbalula appointed the commission at the end of last year after CSA’s executive failed to take steps against Majola, despite a damning report by auditing firm KPMG.

The report found that Majola had been guilty of several irregularities in terms of the South African Companies Act.

The sensational inquiry, under the leadership of Judge Chris Nicholson, will be resumed in Pretoria tomorrow.

Last month Majola tearfully admitted to Nicholson that he had not declared his bonuses of R1.8 million as required by the Companies Act. But scarcely 24 hours later he launched a sharp and bitter attack against Bacher.

Majola accused the former head of the then United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) of “lying” about the R5 million bonus paid to him for presenting the World Cup in 2003.

In reply to a question by City Press, Bacher – who had been at the head of this tournament – said there was nothing “shady” about this payment and that a large portion of it was his retirement fund. He also strongly denied Majola’s allegation that his medical costs are still being paid by CSA nearly a decade after he had resigned from his position.

He added that he was prepared to give evidence before the Nicholson commission.

According to Mbalula, Advocate Norman Arendse, a former CSA president, and John Bester, the chairperson of the organisation’s financial committee, would also be questioned.

Arendse was dismissed in 2008, when a motion of no-confidence was brought against him by the country’s 11 union presidents – as happened to Dr Mtutuzeli Nyoka, one of Majola’s biggest critics, in November last year.

Bester was a member of CSA’s internal investigation team which absolved Majola of any irregularities two years ago.

According to Nicholson, the commission would hand a full report with its findings to the sports minister at the end of next month.

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