CSA legal head fears witch-hunt against protesting voices

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula had initiated an inquiry into the affairs of CSA Getty Images

Johannesburg: Feb 7, 2012

Cricket South Africa’s legal and governance committee head Ajay Sooklal has alleged a witch-hunt against dissenting voices at CSA in the wake of the Nicholson inquiry into the financial affairs of the board.

Sooklal, who testified at the inquiry about irregularities at Board meetings, has received a letter from CSA demanding an explanation about his testimony in which he referred to “a lack of ethical leadership at CSA” and “the farcical situation” at a board meeting where CSA chief executive Gerald Majola was himself present as punitive action against him was discussed.

Majola paid himself and other CSA staff huge bonuses received from the second edition of the Indian Premier League, which was hosted in South Africa in 2009 due to security concerns around elections at that time in India, without declaring this to the CSA board.

After two years of wrangling which saw CSA president Mtutuzeli Nyoka twice ousted in absentia, sports minister Fikile Mbalula set up the inquiry last year.

Its hearings ended last week and Nicholson indicated that a report would be handed to the minister by the end of February.

Now there are concerns that Sooklal may find himself being dismissed before his term of office ends in August for the same reasons that CSA advanced for the second dismissal of Nyoka – that he had brought CSA into disrepute.

But Sooklal is adamant that he had not broken any CSA rules because he had given his testimony in his personal capacity.

“I intimated to the committee that I gave my presentation as part of my civic duty, and not in my capacity as the chairman of the legal and governance committee of CSA,” said Sooklal, adding that he also did not deliver his written submission on a CSA letterhead.

But CSA has written to Sooklal calling for a detailed explanation of the damning allegations about a lack of corporate governance on Majola’s part.

Among other things, Sooklal told the inquiry that Majola was present at a meeting where action against him for not having declared the IPL bonuses to the board was discussed.

He said Majola was asked at the meeting whether he was satisfied with just receiving a severe reprimand.

CSA executive consultant Michael Owen-Smith denied Sooklal’s allegations, saying that other CSA board members had also been critical of the body in their submissions to the inquiry.(PTI)