Haroon Lorgat must be removed from Cricket SA interim board‚ says fellow board member

A file photo of former Cricket South Africa's Haroon Lorgat.
A file photo of former Cricket South Africa's Haroon Lorgat.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Cricket South Africa's (CSA) interim board member Omphile Ramela has called for the removal of fellow member Haroon Lorgat with immediate effect for “reckless” and “obstructive” conduct.

Ramela‚ who was president of the influential South African Cricketers Association (Saca) until last month‚ has said Lorgat played a leading role in the “unlawful” suspension of CSA company secretary Welsh Gwaza.

The company secretary Gwaza was suspended last week for “misconduct” without a board resolution. A disciplinary hearing against him will be held on December 14.

In a letter sent to the CSA interim board of directors on Friday‚ Ramela‚ a former player with 123 first-class matches under his belt‚ said Lorgat is potentially conflicted on the charges levelled against Gwaza.

Ramela cautioned that the integrity of the interim board’s implementation of the recommendations of the Fundudzi report will come into question if nothing is done.

Lorgat was announced and appointed along with eight others by sports‚ arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa last month.

Their mandate was to restore public and stakeholder confidence in the administration of cricket for a period of three months.

Lorgat is a former CSA CEO and his return caused trepidations among the members council‚ the highest decision-making body made up of provincial presidents.

The provincial bosses made clear their uneasiness with the presence of a former CEO on the interim board over concerns of a conflict of interest.

But minister Mthethwa‚ and later interim board chairperson Zak Yacoob‚ assured that Lorgat would recuse himself from all discussions where he is directly or indirectly conflicted on matters arising from the Fundudzi report. Ramela said Lorgat violated the condition of his appointment by not affording the board an opportunity to adequately manage his conflict on the Fundudzi report.

Ramela said Lorgat instead led the Gwaza suspension process without the authority of the entire interim board. Ramela said Lorgat ‚ by acting without the board resolution to suspend Gwaza‚ deprived the interim board an opening to sufficiently deal with his possible conflict on the charges levelled against the company secretary.

Ramela said it was crucial for Lorgat to afford the interim board an opportunity to interrogate the alleged conflict so that the Board can protect the integrity of its work on the Fundudzi report.

Had the board been afforded an opportunity to sufficiently deliberate on the suspension of the company secretary‚ we would have been able to adequately address any possible conflict and satisfy ourselves that there is no violation as per the agreement with the members council‚ wrote Ramela in his letter.

He said this is necessary to ensure that the work of the board in implementing recommendations from the Fundudzi report is not compromised by any conflicts‚ perceived or real.

Ramela charges that Lorgat continues to interfere with the process that seeks to rectify the procedurally flawed suspension of Gwaza. Since Gwaza’s suspension‚ said Ramela‚ Lorgat continues to worsen the situation and has rendered the interim board dysfunctional.

“I therefore hereby humbly present a plea to have Haroon Lorgat removed from the Board with immediate effect‚” Ramela implored his fellow CSA interim board of directors. Ramela said Lorgat’s continued interference with Gwaza’s suspension will further jeopardize disciplinary proceedings against the company secretary that start seven days from today. “Mr Lorgat’s conduct‚ if allowed to continue‚ will grossly compromise the integrity of the entire Fundudzi report and risk the organization.

“Mr. Lorgat’s behaviour within the Interim Board has become extremely obstructive and it is exposing the entire Board and organization and greatly interferes with the mammoth task faced by the Interim Board to rebuild the organization according to the mandate given to us by the Honorable Minister.

“His continued interference renders the Board completely dysfunctional as he throws insults and threats to fellow board members who have requested the intervention of the Members Council into this matter of the suspended Company Secretary. “His reckless conduct has caused more harm to the organization as this alleged unprocedural suspension and termination of contracts exposed the organization leaving it with no capacity.

“I believe that the conduct of Mr. Lorgat is utter failure on his fiduciary duties.” TimesLIVE emailed questions to CSA interim board spokesperson Judith February for the attention of Lorgat.

Both February and Lorgat did not respond. Ramela referred questions to CSA interim board spokesperson February.

TimesLIVE reported last week the majority of the CSA interim board members have rejected Gwaza’s suspension and that the increasingly divided body wants strong action to be taken against the members who authorised his suspension.

It emerged on Thursday that not only was there no board resolution to suspend Gwaza‚ but there was also no resolution for the termination of a contract of any service provider.

CSA members council acting president Rihan Richards confirmed that the body has received the complaint of a conflict of interest in relation to Lorgat’s conduct. “The conflict issue was raised and what I can say is that the matter will be dealt with according to the proper structures and procedures‚” said Richards‚ who could not be drawn into how exactly the matter will be dealt with.

CSA interim board chairperson and retired Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob is of the view that the members council is discredited and therefore disqualified to act as an oversight body‚ according to several sources. Minister Mthethwa said he has no comment on the conduct of the interim board.

“The Minister has no comment on the working of the board because the board is there for a specific reason and if there are issues within the board the board must answer for itself.”