CAPE TOWN – Western Province Rugby Football Union president Zelt Marais is facing a ‘motion of no confidence’ at a special general meeting after allegedly sidelining the union’s constituents in decision-making processes.
Marais is being accused of disobeying instructions of the joint WPRFU and SA Rugby advisory committee, which was plotting the union’s path back to stability. SA Rugby has since withdrawn from the committee.
On Saturday, Western Province Professional Rugby (WPPR) chairman Ebrahim Rasool sent out a scathing press release, which accused Marais of being power hungry, saying “what I do fear is megalomania by someone who already has centralised all power in his person – president of WPRFU, Board Member of WPPR, Acting CEO of WPRFU, Head of the Finance Committee”.
Rasool responded to Marais’ accusation that he “betrayed” WP Rugby by leaking advisory committee letter to clubs, while he also shed light on key questions surrounding the union, including their current legal battles and financial woes.
During the WPRFU’s general council meeting in August, Marais came under fire for disobeying and acting in direct conflict to the instructions of the joint WPRFU and SA Rugby advisory committee, which consisted of six people – Patrick Kuhn, Samuel Ngumeni, Abubakar Saban, Colin Moses, Rasool and Marais himself.
Marais was responsible for the distribution of the document, which contained the minutes of the previous committee meeting, but failed to do so because he wanted to amend it before passing it on. Marais is allegedly opposed to a proposal to accept a deal that would make Staytus Cape (Pty) Ltd the union’s new benefactor, which would include a settlement deal with Flyt.
Instead, Marais distributed a letter from lawyers Korbers Incorporated, which advised against accepting the deal. Korbers also litigated for the WPRFU against Flyt.
The document Marais withheld was then distributed, with Rasool admitting he distributed the document and accused Marais of deliberately withholding valuable information from the union’s clubs.
Speaking to Independent Media, a source said that Marais’ latest move is just a continuation of the “unconstitutional nature of his presidency”.
“My feeling is this ’War Room’ is unconstitutional as proper procedures were not followed to form it,” he said.
“There have been times where the resolutions taken have been the opposite of what Zelt had wanted or voted for, but then the very next day he does the exact opposite. And the opposite isn’t small, it would be opposites that cost millions.
“One of it was the Flyt deal, the biggest issue there was that they gave this loan, and as collateral properties were given. Zelt went and changed the resolution and threw in all the properties – Newlands, Brookside, Oranjezicht.
“A few weeks ago they came to us and told us about the Western Province-SA Rugby committee, decisions had to be taken and info had to be sent to clubs, Zelt simply said he was not going to send it. Zelt requested an amendment to WP/SARU notice that was to be sent out and when that was refused, he didn’t send info with meeting pack. Instead, Ebrahim Rasool later admitted to sending it out, and now Zelt is on the warpath with him.
“Over the last few weeks meetings have lasted hours, and it has become a blatant fight between exco and the president in these meetings the exco has started speaking up saying ‘no, we are not going to take this anymore, the clubs cannot believe this is a decision taken by us when it isn’t, it was taken by one man’.”
The process Monday’s meeting will take is still to be determined.
“Zelt blatantly said the exco is toxic and he is no longer dealing with them, he is now dealing with this new group he put together himself,” the source said.
“We have received no confirmation of the voting process of the meeting (motion of no confidence), there are clubs that have requested the IEC to get involved, there are clubs that have requested that Zelt not chair the meeting because, as has happened with these virtual meetings, somebody can propose something or second it and Zelt just goes on talking as if no proposal was made.
“But if somebody else makes a proposal an hour later that suits him, he pushes that. This is the power that he has, and the virtual meetings add to that power.
“Imagine eight exco members with years and years of rugby experience, who are professional businessmen, just get bypassed. If we let this fly, anyone can do whatever going forward," the source added.
* Marais was approached for comment but did not respond to IOL Sport’s request to be interviewed.