Suspended Cricket SA CEO believes the law is on his side
The ongoing Cricket SA (CSA) bonus saga will take another turn tomorrow when suspended CEO Gerald Majola takes CSA and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula to court.
Lawyers representing Majola confirmed to City Press yesterday they would lodge papers tomorrow with the Labour Court challenging his CSA suspension and Mbalula’s authority to have appointed the Judge Chris Nicholson-led committee of inquiry into the affairs of CSA last year.
The judge found Majola knew about the bonus he had received, but chose not to disclose it to his board, thereby contravening sections of the Companies Act.
Majola was supposed to appear in front of a disciplinary committee on Wednesday, but defied it by calling his own press conference, where he announced he would not participate in the proceedings on the grounds that Mbalula’s intervention was unlawful and the disciplinary matter was closed by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) in 2011.
He is basing his argument on section 13.5(b)(i)(ii) of the National Sports and Recreation Act, which states a minister may not:
» Intervene if a dispute or mismanagement in question has been referred to the Sports Confederation for resolution, unless the Sports Confederation fails to resolve such dispute within a reasonable time; and
» Interfere in matters relating to the selection of teams, administration of sport and appointment of, or termination of the service of, the executive members of the sport or recreation body.
Majola’s lawyer, Pumezo David, said Mbalula was not entitled to intervene as he did not issue a directive as per the act’s section 6.
“He did not issue a directive nor refer the matter for mediation. He can’t argue that he issued a directive,” he said. “Before issuing a directive under subsection 5(a)(i), the minister must, by written notice, notify the relevant parties of his intention to do so and give all concerned parties reasonable time to respond. He did not do that.”
Sascoc president Gideon Sam said Mbalula had been well within his rights to intervene because the matter was still in progress and was not closed. He said according to his knowledge, Mbalula did issue a directive.
Acting CSA president Dr Willie Basson said they were going ahead with the disciplinary process despite Majola taking the matter to the Labour Court.
“Our legal process has been dealt with by an independent legal team and, in terms of approaching the labour court, Majola is entitled to do so,” he said.
“We will continue with the hearing in his absence and the hearing could be concluded this week or sometime next week.”
Basson said Mbalula consulted widely before appointing the inquiry. “Sascoc did not involve themselves in the process,” he said.
“The situation deteriorated before the ministry stepped in. Sascoc were mere observers.”
Mbalula hit back on Thursday, releasing a statement that claimed Majola was resorting to “childish name-calling”.
“We expected better from him than the desperation showed by him in avoiding the process.”
Attorney Themba Langa agreed Mbalula was within his rights to instigate an inquiry as all disciplinary avenues had been exhausted.
However, he said: “The interesting aspect of Majola’s urgent court bid is that it brings a spotlight on whether a person should be subjected to a disciplinary hearing under circumstances where it appears the hearing is biased or resembles a ‘kangaroo court’.
“The eagerness of the disciplinary hearing chairperson to proceed with the hearing in the absence of Mr Majola can only reinforce the impression of bias.”