Matika wins, as Mallett 'steps back'
NEWS UPDATE: Political firebrand and Eastern Province Rugby Union deputy president Bantwini Matika succeeded in eliminating Nick Mallett from the decision-making process at the Southern Kings.
Bantwini Matika, also a board member of the Kings, launched a hellacious media campaign against Mallett, after he became aware that the former Springbok coach was to serve on the panel that will decide on a prospective new coach for the Eastern Cape franchise.
Matika, in social media posts and subsequent media interviews, launched a stinging attack on his own franchise for attempting to use Mallett to assist the panel.
In a racist Facebook rant, he labelled Mallett a racist and said his help was not needed to find a replacement for axed coach Deon Davids.
He also accused Kings Chairman Loyiso Dotwana of not knowing rugby and relying on what he said were ‘white liberal brains’ to help him.
The Southern Kings revealed on Tuesday that Mallet has “declined the invitation” due to the events of the past few days.
Mallett has maintained his silence on the matter, but Matika appears to have succeeded in having a panel that is at least 70 percent black and 30 percent white
After Mallett “declined the offer” to participate, a special board meeting on Monday, July 1, approved a “fully Eastern Cape-born” seven-man panel.
“The committee will sift through the  applications [from across the globe] and shortlist the candidates that meet the criteria,” the Kings statement said.
The shortlisted candidates will then undergo a thorough interviewing process and the panel will make their recommendations to the Board, who will then make the final decision on the appointment of the new coach.
“We have put together a group of knowledgeable and qualified members who are familiar with the ambitious plans of the board to make the Southern Kings a winning team,” Chairman Loyiso Dotwana said.
“The Board was united in their approval of this panel and look forward to their recommendations after the conclusion of an in-depth interviewing process to find the best-suited candidate for the position of head coach.”
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Has the Eastern Province Rugby Union made a huge mistake in not enlisting the help of former Springbok coach Nick Mallett? The Southern Kings revealed on Tuesday that Mallet has “declined the invitation” to assist them due to the events of the past few days in which he received racial abuse from Kings deputy president Bantwini Matika.
The seven-man panel:
* Loyiso Dotwana (Chairman)
* Robbie Kempson (Director of High Performance)
* Odwa Mtati (Enterprise Development Specialist)
Mtati is an Enterprise Development Specialist who has also excelled as a Public Relations and Communications Specialist, Integrated Marketing Expert and Business Consultant. He has occupied positions on influential boards, including Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board. He is a former Chairman of the SA Students Rugby Executive.
* Makhaya Jack (EPRU Board Member)
Jack is a legend of the non-racial KwaZakhele Rugby Union (KWARU) and the SA Rugby Union. He is a respected broadcast rugby commentator and also serves on the Eastern Province Rugby Union’s executive.
* Kaunda Ntunja (Commentator and former Junior Springbok captain)
Ntunja is an award-winning rugby commentator. He was crowned the 2016 and 2018 South African Commentator of the Year. He was the first black SA Schools captain and went on to captain the Junior Springboks. He played the game of rugby professionally, turning out for various SA unions.
* Anthony Heugh (World Rugby Coaching Educator)
Heugh is an experienced rugby head, who is a World Rugby Coaching Educator that has earned the respect of top coaches across the globe. He is a former Eastern Province Elephants coach and was the technical analyst for the SA Women’s team at the World Cup hosted in England in 2010.
* Glen Zamisa (Human Resources Specialist)
Zamisa is the Head of Human Resources at one of South Africa’s leading motor manufacturing plants. He comes with a wealth of experience and knowledge in Human Resources. He has held board membership and external audit committee roles in the public and private sector. He is a passionate sports enthusiast.
While Matika will be able to celebrate his ‘victory’ in the in-house power-struggle, the entire saga will leave a bitter taste and also remind the world just how much racial undertones there still exist in South Africa.
Matika, apart from his Facebook rant last week, also did not hold back in his attacks on the Kings Chairman, Dotwana, and Director of High Performance, Kempson.
In an interview with the Port Elizabeth-based Herald newspaper, Matika said: “After a number of decisions taken by the new owners, we realised this was not what we had been expecting. This was a different animal, but under the name of a black consortium.
“The first strategic appointment was a white man by the name of Robbie Kempson.
“We challenged this but we were bulldozed because they knew what they wanted. He was head-hunted. But we said maybe things are going to get better and let’s accept Robbie and all work together.
“Then, in another strategic position, white lady [Leigh Heard] who comes from the Sharks was appointed as chief operating officer. Those were two crucial appointments which demonstrated clearly that we are not moving in the right direction.
“Robbie is the man who is influencing our decision-makers and leaders and they listen to Robbie only.
“We had to fight that.
“I personally know that the chairman of the board, Loyiso Dotwana, does not know about rugby.
“He needed brains to help him about rugby. Unfortunately for him, he relies on white liberal brains to support him and we are contesting that.
“I am making sure that when he gets a white voice in the left ear he must get a black voice on the right.
“But it is difficult for us because there is Rory Stear [deputy chair] in one ear and Robbie Kempson in the other ear.
“So we have to shout [to get] attention as a black voice and we are sick and tired of that.
“The bad thing was the way the black coaches, Deon Davids and Chumani Booi, were treated by this franchise – especially Deon, who worked against all odds.
“The last straw was reading that Nick Mallett was here in Port Elizabeth.
“The chairperson has my phone number, but I did not have a clue about that.
“I want to make sure as a board member [that] the committee that will be established to recruit is 70 percent black and 30 percent white.
“We will look for black rugby brains – we do have it here in the Eastern Cape.”
By Jan de Koning, with additional reporting by HeraldLive