OPEN LETTER OF RESIGNATION
My resignation as a Director from both Gold Circle and the Western Cape Chapter Boards must not be seen as an abandonment of a sinking ship, but rather as a protest against the ridiculous position created by individual egos within Gold Circle. I am committed and will continue to support the Horseracing Industry in the “New South Africa”. I say “New South Africa” with intent because 16 years after Democracy it still remains business as usual in certain quarters of Gold Circle with the exception of a few mandatory changes to satisfy regulatory requirements.
Phumelela on the other hand has crossed this Rubicon by making bold changes to embrace change despite the obstacles that they have encountered. Certain quarters of Gold Circle unfortunately continue to “window dress” and are still entrapped in an apartheid mode. I have invested in the Horseracing Industry for more than 25 years and relentlessly promoted the sport to communities, political leaders, captains of industry, International networks and all people regardless of race, colour, creed or religion.
Recent events that have occurred in Gold Circle are tantamount to the hijacking of substantial work in progress and simultaneously entrenching the philosophies of the old order. The letter that was recently distributed by a concerned group of KZN Members who are calling for a special general meeting, ironically includes the names of certain individuals, who at a meeting with the Directors of Gold Circle had aired their discontent with the management of Gold Circle for allowing black people onto the racecourses without being properly attired, amongst other racial utterances. Imagine Three Wise Men who consider themselves to be the “White Knights” who would save racing from this unacceptable position and that this would not have been tolerated during their time. Ironically the leader of lynching mob (who is white) is often not properly attired at board meetings or race meetings.
I was quite aggrieved and questioned how they could treat the very people who are the backbone of our Tote and therefore provide their sacred Breeders’ Premium, with such mirth and derision. This begs the question as to whether the new lynching mob manifesto is going to be that of the Ku Klux Klan, ensuring that Gold Circle does not embrace the new South African democracy.
The current Gold Circle environment does not give me the confidence of willingness to embrace that of genuine change. I have personally been a victim both past and present. In 2001 I was elected as the first Chairman of colour of the Western Cape Regional Board. I was immediately placed under scrutiny and questions were raised by the “Old Guard” as to whether it was appropriate to have a black person as Chairman. After three months of and not wanting to be where I was not wanted, I relinquished the Chair.
In December 2009 I was legally elected to take the Chair of Gold Circle on the 1st August 2010. Under the Chairmanship of John Bescoby a press release was sanctioned to confirm the appointment and extensive media coverage was approved, including a comprehensive article in the Parade Magazine. Just fifteen days prior to taking office I was unconstitutionally and irregularly removed. To date all these spurious allegations against me have gone unfounded and I can only attribute this to racial bias. This begs the question, is Gold Circle in its current structure, really ready for change? The answer is clearly no if we are to continue with the existing majority, let alone be taken over by the new Ku Klux Klan. Gold Circle requires leadership, but those who are capable are unable to take office due to the intervention of parochialism and the failure to embrace change.
I have always been outspoken with respect to Gold Circle being transparent and accountable to the racing public at all times. I have shown my commitment by investing millions in the industry including thousands of man-hours to ensure that the legacy of the horseracing industry remains sacrosanct and that our future generations enjoy this magnificent sport in perpetuity. I cannot continue in an environment that is poisoned with lies, deceit and dishonesty.
Certain individuals have transgressed the boundaries of Corporate Governance and embarked on a joy ride of unilateral decision-making. Under the Chairmanship of Chris Saunders the Main Board of Gold Circle was continually reminded of the importance of “Secrecy of Council”, “Integrity and Honesty of Purpose” and “Celerity of Action”. This was stressed with respect to even communication with the two Racing Chapters. This simple principle of sacrosanct Board Room conduct has been transgressed in the KZN Region to the extent that the “Old Guard” and the “Klan” have a direct line into the Board Room.
In the application of proper governance certain nominees for positions on the KZN Chapter had disqualified themselves from being elected due to their delinquent position with regard to Membership Fees. As a result of threats levied at the Company the entire process has had to be extended in order to accommodate these individuals. Events such as this will continue to push Gold Circle into a downward spiral.
Prior to the recent Members’ Meetings, Gold Circle had formed a Sub-Committee to explore various opportunities and the way forward. Amongst these opportunities was the possibility of a business partner in Gaming. When Members of the Sub-Committee engaged with representatives of the business partner they were informed that one of the KZN Chapter representatives had negotiated himself the position of CEO should the deal have been successfully concluded. This was done at Meetings that were held without the consent or knowledge of the Main Board Directors. It seems no coincidence that this individual now drives the cause of the “Ku Klux Klan”.
When the Western Cape and KZN first agreed to merge, we did so with good intentions and the marriage was founded on good faith and best endeavours. The Shareholders’ Agreement bears testimony to this. From the inception of the marriage the Western Cape Directors have been on a hiding to nothing. If they argued for commercial expansion, capital expenditure, marketing drive or management focus in their Region, they would be accused of being parochial and not having the Company’s best interests at heart. Those who now come to challenge the Company’s Financials will do so by challenging Western Cape Turnovers versus its Stakes. They do this oblivious of the millions of rands that the Western Cape pumped into Gold Circle through the sale of its properties at a time when Gold Circle was desperately in need of a life-line.
It is clear that the marriage has come to an abrupt end and the parties must be bold enough to settle on an amicable divorce without damaging the sport. What is in KZN must belong to KZN and similarly what is in the Western Cape must stay with the Western Cape. The breakup of jointly owned investments such as PGE and Betting World can be resolved through negotiation and discussion.
In conclusion, in the interest of horseracing, I would like this letter to be seen as a serious appeal to all the role players in the industry to apply their minds and seek solutions on an amicable basis. If we don’t adapt we will die. I believe that its time for change and that a new order should be introduced that is accountable to the racing fraternity.