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WP exodus: Zelt wants 'exceptional people'

REACTION: Zelt Marais, President of the Western Province Rugby Football Union, is looking for “exceptional people” to run the business arm of the union.


This was his reaction to the news that Raymond van Niekerk has resigned as an independent director of Western Province Professional Rugby Proprietary Limited.

His departure means that three of the four independent directors of WPPR have now departed – one resigned and two were shown the door.

The boardroom exodus started back in June when Kevin Kiewitz walked away from the union in protest over their handling of negotiations with Investec – a deal with has since been shelved and a loan of more than ZAR50-million paid back.

Last month two independent directors of the board, Johan van der Merwe and Andre van der Veen, were told their services were no longer required. Their terms of office came to an end last month and, at the board AGM, it was decided not to renew their contracts.

Van der Merwe was replaced as Chairman of the board of WPPR (Pty) Ltd by political firebrand Ebrahim Rasool.

This week Van Niekerk handed in his resignation because he has had enough of the boardroom politics.


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Marais confirmed that Van Niekerk is no longer a member of the board.

“It is unfortunate, but not surprising that Raymond [van Niekerk] had decided to step down,” the WPRFU boss told @rugby365com.


“We wish to thank him for his short stay at WP Rugby and wish him well with his future endeavours.”

Van Niekerk, a former marketing executive of Investec, in media interviews on Wednesday suggested his departure is directly related to the culling of board members and the loss of business acumen in the professional arm of the union.

Marais dismissed the notion that the departure of Van Niekerk will have an impact on their capability as a ‘business’ or any negotiations they may have with equity partners.

“Sport around the world finds itself in a very difficult space,” he said, adding: “During challenging times one needs exceptional people not only to generate new income streams, but also to organically grow existing income.”

The negotiations with Marco V Masotti’s consortium, MVM Holdings, for a controlling share in WP Rugby, are ongoing.

Masotti, a Durban-born, New York-based lawyer, is asking for a 51 percent share in the company, WPPR.

The WPRFU, currently the sole shareholder of WPPR, is determined to retain control of the professional arm.


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