Western Province Rugby Football Union president Zelt Marais says he will not avail himself for the vacant CEO position. Picture: WPRFU
Western Province Rugby Football Union president Zelt Marais says he will not avail himself for the vacant CEO position. Picture: WPRFU

New Province CEO must be accountable to the board, says Zelt Marais

By Wynona Louw Time of article published Jul 24, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Western Province Rugby Football Union president Zelt Marais says he has no interest in availing himself for the vacant chief executive position.

The top seat has been unoccupied since Paul Zacks stepped down at the end of January this year, and while Marais said he’s been encouraged to apply for the role, he is focused on his duties as president.

“I can’t see myself availing myself for that position. The job that I have at the moment is going to keep me busy, there is just no way that I can abdicate my responsibility,” he said.

“I mean, I’m looking at a massively busy period for at least the next six to seven years, so there is just no way. There are quite a lot of people who are pushing me to apply for the position, but I can’t see myself doing that having availed myself to be president and not serving my full term.

“I need to carry out my vision and my mandate and not use this position as a stepping stone to get to something else.”

While Marais said they don’t yet know who is going to apply for the position, one name that has been mentioned in the media is that of Junaid Moerat, the youngest member to serve on the board of the professional arm of the WPRU as well as the executive committee.

Earlier this week, Marais said they would “do their best” to appoint someone in line with the South African Rugby Union’s transformation targets. Moerat, 36, would therefore be a natural choice for candidacy and far from a radical one as the Bulls and Sharks have also recently appointed young chief executives in Edgar Rathbone (33) and Eduard Coetzee (39).

Moerat comes from a family with a rich history in SA rugby and also comes with expertise in the changing and modern world of sport. He was the brains behind the #3teams1city Esports challenge featuring the Stormers, Cobras and City FC.

“Whoever gets the job, we want them to be accountable to the board. The targets and the measurements will be there, and we need that person to perform to those measurements and targets. You can’t just come into the position, it’s a very wide and difficult position, the landscape will change all the time, we also need to consider new shareholders coming in. Once our rugby resumes we will activate the process and advertise the position,” Marais said.

“I don’t think age should ever play a role, if someone fits the profile and have the necessary experience we don’t know who is going to apply but of course we want the best person in the job, someone who can take us from one point, from where we are, to another level.

“Maybe by that time we could have another shareholder involved and that shareholder may also have additional expectations of whoever is in the role.

On the process of appointing a new chief executive, Marais explained: “We will use an external company to do all the sifting, so it will be an independent process,” he said.

“The external company must provide us with the top three candidates and motivate why they are the best people.

We will never again appoint someone without putting a performance agreement in place like we did with the previous CEO, it was one of the biggest disasters we could have created, to put somebody in a position without a performance agreement.

“We will never go back to the past where there was no accountability, we’re running a tight ship and everything should be done according to business standards. Our coaches also know if their team doesn’t perform, they could also just be asked to do the honourable thing.

“The decision (on who becomes CEO) will lie with the board and the board will then recommend to the shareholder. There will be people from the board on the interview panel as well.”


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