Sports Minister calls on S. African cricket board to resign

JOHANNESBURG, (Reuters) – South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula called on the country’s cricket leadership to step down today, accusing them of “cover-ups.”
His call follows the results of an inquiry which found Cricket South Africa (CSA) had failed to take appropriate action against chief executive Gerald Majola for alleged financial misconduct.
Majola had been embroiled in scandal after R4.7 million ($615,000) in unauthorised bonuses were allegedly paid to CSA staff following the 2009 Indian Premier League (IPL) and ICC Champions Trophy.
It was alleged Majola received R1.8 million, but he was originally cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal CSA inquiry headed by AK Khan, who resigned as acting president this week.
The board of inquiry, appointed by Mbalula and chaired by judge Chris Nicholson, found that Majola had “surreptitiously” received bonus payments from the IPL.
Nicholson recommended that Majola be suspended and face a disciplinary inquiry and possible criminal charges.
“The board of Cricket South Africa, if it has any moral compass … must do the right thing – as Judge Nicholson has advised,” Mbalula told a news conference in Johannesburg.
“The board must conduct an open and brutally frank introspection about its role in the deepening crisis within cricket.
“(They must) ask themselves the question whether, after so many blunders, would they be able to command the respect of all South Africans?
“Is it not time for the board to make way for a new leadership that will take Cricket South Africa to a new era of hope and clean governance? No more time for cover-ups!”
Mbalula added that if CSA did not take the recommended course of action, he would personally lead the way in forcing them to do so.
He also poured scorn on Majola’s claim, in a statement released on Wednesday, that Nicholson was not an impartial judge.
“This is not an idle threat,” insisted Mbalula. “If the board fails to implement the recommendations, the government and the people of South Africa will show them how it should be done in the interest of cricket in our country.
“It was an independent inquiry, every individual who had a problem appeared. I didn’t consult or interact with the judge. The attack on the judge is unfortunate. It’s an attack on a process we all agreed on.”
Majola said he would be applying for a leave of absence from CSA in order to fight Nicholson’s findings.
The CSA board will hold a meeting on Saturday to elect a new acting president and discuss the Nicholson report.
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