Battle of the ‘snakes’ at Cricket SA

2011-10-22 19:53

They grew up barely a kilometre from each other and played for the same amateur cricket team but over the past year, they have been at war.

Cricket SA (CSA) chief executive Gerald Majola (52) and axed president Dr Mtutuzeli Nyoka (51), both come from New Brighton in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. Majola’s home is in the township’s Boast section while Nyoka, the son of a medical practitioner, is from eLalini.

Cricket lovers have light-heartedly dubbed their fight the battle of the snakes, but the war between the two isn’t a laughing matter.

Nyoka is IsiXhosa for snake, while Majola is a mole snake (a totem for the Majola clan).

Unlike his famous late father Eric, Gerald was not a good cricketer, according to a former schoolmate.

Nyoka played for the New Brighton Cricket Club and later United Cricket Club (UCC) with Gerald’s older brother, Khaya Majola. He was an opening batsman and did a bit of bowling. Football administrator Danny Jordaan (who described himself as an all-rounder), his brother Andrew and current Western Province rugby coach Allister Coetzee, who played as wicketkeeper and batsman, were all with UCC.

When Majola was appointed more than a decade ago as CSA boss, then president Nelson Mandela called to congratulate him. “Well done, you deserve it and I support you all the way,” Mandela reportedly told Majola.

Eleven years later, with Mandela (93) long retired, Majola is under immense pressure. Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula is set to appoint a commission of inquiry into the fat bonuses paid to Majola and some CSA staff and it is this bonus row that has led to such bitter relations between Majola and Nyoka.

Majola, an analytical chemist and a former estate agent, replaced Dr Ali Bacher in 2000.

One of Majola’s ex-schoolmates in Port Elizabeth described “Gailer”, Majola’s nickname, as a great flyhalf while he was at KwaZakhele High School, during his days with local rugby club Spring Rose and also at the famous KwaZakhele Rugby Union.

Nyoka joined the Gauteng Cricket Board as deputy chairperson in 1998 and was appointed chairperson from 2001 until 2008. Subsequently, he became CSA president.

A novelist and ear, nose and throat surgeon, Nyoka indicated this week that he wouldn’t go to court following last Saturday’s second vote of no confidence decision.
Could this be the end of a lifelong association? Only time will tell.

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