Johannesburg – Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula hit back at suspended Cricket SA (CSA) CEO Gerald Majola on Thursday for calling him an apartheid-style minister.
“It was preposterous in the extreme and must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves,” Mbalula said in a statement.
“He now resorts to childish name-calling when all options open to Mr Majola, to avoid the disciplinary process, have been closed. We expect better from him but see his desperation.”
Majola reportedly likened Mbalula to apartheid prime minister John Vorster in Johannesburg on Wednesday after he withdrew from his CSA disciplinary hearing.
He said: “The minister overstepped his mark by interfering and he must be brought to book. This is like BJ Vorster who refused Basil d'Oliveira to play against South Africa for his adopted England.”
Majola claimed the process that led to his hearing was illegal and went against International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations concerning government interference in the sport.
He was referring to the independent inquiry into CSA's long-running bonus scandal, headed by retired judge Chris Nicholson and commissioned by the sports minister.
The Nicholson committee recommended Majola be suspended to allow him to defend his involvement in the unauthorised bonuses paid to himself and other CSA staff members in 2009.
Mbalula dismissed Majola's allegations that he did not have the power to appoint the independent committee. He said its subsequent findings had proven his intervention had been correct.
“We want to place on record that we stand by our decision to intervene in Cricket SA when we received alleged reports of mismanagement, fraud and dereliction of duty,” Mbalula said.
“This was the findings of an independent inquiry which was widely welcomed by sport stakeholders, which include sponsors and the business sector, Sascoc and Cricket SA.”
The government's intervention was in line with the South African Sport and Recreation Act and Treasury regulations.
Mbalula said ICC regulations state that a government may investigate the affairs of a member board.
“The ICC governance review committee stated that in such a case it would be viewed as accountability and not interference.”
The findings and recommendations of the Nicholson inquiry were given to CSA to examine and “plot their own way forward” without any further involvement from the department.
“Mr Majola must subject himself to the open and fair disciplinary processes underway and prove his innocence to the charges against him,” Mbalula said.
“Anything else will forever leave unanswered questions hanging and confirm the current perceptions about him.” – Sapa