CSA board member Ajay Sooklal accepts lobbying for removal of president

After his first ousting, Mtutuzeli Nyoka went to court and got reinstated Getty Images

Johannesburg: Feb 8, 2012

The chairman of legal and governance committee of Cricket South Africa (CSA) Ajay Sooklal has disclosed that he was sent around the country to lobby provincial affiliates in support of a campaign to oust president Mtutuzeli Nyoka.

Sooklal’s startling claim sheds new light on how Nyoka was ousted twice after calling for an independent inquiry into allegations that chief executive Gerald Majola had paid himself and other CSA staff huge bonuses from the IPL-II without declaring this to the board.

The series was played in South Africa in 2009 due to security concerns around elections in India at the time.

After his first ousting, Nyoka went to court and got reinstated. He then arranged an independent inquiry by auditors KPMG, who found Majola to have breached the Companies Act in respect of corporate governance.

Nyoka was ousted a second time for allegedly bringing CSA into disrepute and decided not to pursue the matter further.

The entire debacle prompted sports minister Fikile Mbalula to establish an inquiry into the financial affairs of CSA.

The committee headed by retired judge Chris Nicholson, closed its hearings a fortnight ago and will report to Mbalula by in the next few weeks. At the inquiry, Sooklal gave a scathing account of the lack of corporate governance at CSA, but is now facing calls to explain why he did not raise this at CSA itself, especially since it was his portfolio there.

On Monday, CSA called on Sooklal, to explain two claims totaling R600,000 for work done at a CSA affiliate, alleging that this should have been part of his task as a board member.

Sooklal hit back to say this had been approved by Majola, and included travelling to provinces to lobby against Nyoka.

“I was tasked with going around the country with (board member) Ray Mali and persuading the 11 affiliates to vote out Nyoka,” Sooklal told the daily New Age, on Wednesday.

Sooklal said the money had already been paid to him and should have been queried at the time before approval by Majola, who in turn said he had signed the claims as a “routine administrative matter” and was himself becoming the victim of a smear campaign to get rid of him.

At his testimony to the inquiry, Majola admitted to breach of corporate governance, citing his naivety about such matters, but expert Judge Mervyn King later told the inquiry he had led a workshop about corporate governance at CSA that included Majola well before the IPL-II was hosted by CSA after Majola negotiated it successfully with them IPL supremo Lalit Modi.

Mbalula, though reportedly angry at the continuing debacle at CSA, refused to get involved in the latest spat, insisting that he would await the Nicholson report before making any decisions on CSA. (PTI)