25 July 2024 | 11:32 AM

Another big bonus for Majola

Key Takeaways

Cricket South Africa (CSA) approved an annual bonus of over R1-million to chief executive Gerald Majola, while its remuneration committee was largely in the dark about two further bonuses he controversially received for international tournaments, the Mail & Guardian can reveal.

This appears from the CSA’s internal review report on the bonus scandal, a copy of which the M&G has obtained.

Although the review committee ultimately — and controversially — cleared Majola of deliberate wrongdoing, it paints a picture of a lack of accountability at the top of cricket’s controlling body and of how the foreign bonuses would have landed Majola in a serious conflict of interest if he had not made “adequate disclosure”.

The review, led by CSA vice-president AK Khan, reveals that in 2009, when the CSA staged the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy as well as the Indian Premier League (IPL), its remuneration committee approved regular bonuses to Majola of eight times his monthly salary and to chief operating officer Don McIntosh of six times his monthly earnings. For Majola, that amounted to about R1,2-million.

The review agreed that the CSA’s remuneration committee would not have recommended bonuses of such magnitude had it been properly informed of ICC and IPL bonuses totalling another R1,8-million for Majola and R1,4-million for McIntosh — on the grounds that they might have been paid twice for the same service. The committee chose, however, not “to speculate on the extent of the impact such knowledge would have had”.

Colin Beggs, the former chair of the CSA’s audit committee, confirmed this week that Majola and other senior officials had already been paid generous bonuses, approved by an experienced remuneration committee, for their CSA work — and included the hosting of the international tournaments.

“They were already remunerated on the basis that they had spent effort on hosting successful tournaments. [The CSA bonuses] were considered fair, if not generous.”

Foreign bonuses

He said it was normal for bodies like the ICC and the IPL to outsource aspects of their events to local organisations, which should be paid accordingly, including bonuses. The problem, Beggs said, is that the foreign bonuses were not highlighted to the board.

Whether the board and its remuneration committee were fully apprised is at the heart of a messy leadership spat between Majola and CSA president Mtutuzeli Nyoka, with the latter facing a no-confidence vote from CSA provincial members less than a month before the Cricket World Cup is due to begin.

Nyoka claimed in a radio interview earlier this week that Majola had “lied” to him about the bonuses.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has attempted to intervene, saying the dispute could affect the national team on the eve of the tournament.

The review committee received submissions from both Nyoka and former audit committee chair Paul Harris saying that the bonuses were not properly disclosed.

The committee found that the bonuses from the ICC and IPL had been treated “in a manner outside of the direct control” of CSA and its board — so much so that CSA’s external auditors testified that they had not detected the payments. This was “not ideal” and “undermines the precepts of good governance and provides fertile ground for accusations of impropriety”.

However, it accepted that there was no intention to hide the bonuses — they had been recorded in CSA’s books of account and tax was deducted. The minutes of the board also reflected that Majola had “indicated … that bonuses had accrued to members of the CSA, including himself”.

The remuneration committee was left in the dark because it had “not interrogated this disclosure by seeking information as to the precise quantum of the bonuses”.

‘Naive’

The committee then found that Majola had been “naive” in not making better disclosure, and that McIntosh, aware of the need for full disclosure, “could have taken more proactive steps to reveal to [the remuneration committee] the exact amount”. Majola, it recommended, should be “formally cautioned”.

The committee also examined whether accepting bonuses from the ICC and IPL constituted a conflict of interests for Majola and McIntosh in view of their fiduciary duties to CSA, a non-profit body set up to advance cricket for all South Africans.

Their duties to CSA included “not to place oneself in a position of conflict of interests, to avoid self-enrichment and to make proper and full disclosure of all material facts”.

The committee did not examine whether there were consequences — for example, if the IPL benefited at the expense of South African cricketing interests. It is known, however, that there has been unhappiness, especially from the Gauteng Cricket Board, over the terms of the contract entered into by Majola to host the IPL.

A source at one of the provincial cricket boards told the M&G that Majola did not consult his legal team or any of the other board members when he signed the contract with the IPL, and only after it had been signed realised that there were problems.

An industry observer said: “Majola signed a contract that stipulated ‘clean stadia’. He didn’t show the contract to anyone and he didn’t realise that this meant the Indians would want every box and every parking bay in the stadium.

“So CSA had all this unexpected expenditure, and they had a massive revolt from suite-holders. Majola just said it was in the ‘national interest’.”

Beggs, the former audit committee chair, confirmed that the contract between CSA and the IPL was rushed through without following proper procedure: “It’s clear that it was done in some haste. Hentie van Wyk was the chair of the finance committee and all major contracts would normally be brought to that committee. It’s a fact that that wasn’t the case here.”

But he was adamant the bonus payments were not bribes designed to benefit the IPL and individual CSA officials at the expense of South African cricket — “not at all”. He said this was purely an issue of lack of disclosure and poor governance.

In the end, the review committee did not fault Majola and McIntosh on the conflict of interest either, seemingly on the premise that their partial disclosure had resolved the conflict.

The review committee’s findings remain contentious. CSA initially announced that the bonus payments would be investigated by former Chief Justice Pius Langa and a team of forensic experts. But the cricket body’s board later backtracked, choosing the internal review instead.

Harris, Beggs and Van Wyk denounced the move at the time. “It’s difficult to claim the independence that outsiders and forensic experts would bring,” Beggs said this week.

Majola had not responded to questions by the time of going to press.

This article was produced by amaBhungane, investigators of the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit initiative to enhance capacity for investigative journalism in the public interest. www.amabhungane.co.za.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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