AGM of SASCOC

AGM of SASCOC

 (South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee)

10.02.2018

Protocol:

Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr. Gert Oosthuizen, MP,

MEC, of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture in Gauteng, Honourable Faith Mazibuko,

President and Board Members of SASCOC,

Presidents of National Federations and Senior Officials present here,

HOD from Free State, Mr R.S. Malope and Acting HOD, KZN Mr N.P. Chonco,

The Acting CEO of SASCOC,

Ladies and gentlemen

Thank you to SASCOC for inviting me to attend this very important occasion in the sporting calendar. I will cover the following items:

·         The Committee of Inquiry

·         Comments on the general business of SASCOC, and

·         Issues of transformation.

But first, let me start by setting the context:

·         We are all agreed that our sport bodies face challenges.

·         We probably also agree on the need to get to the bottom of this – to test whether we are dealing with underlying systemic issues.

·         We need to discuss the proposition that we may well be delivering sport in an ill-defined environment characterised by inaccessibility, inequality and low participation rates. 

·         Can we also agree that our sport governance is highly fractured, with continuous allegations about poor governance and infighting amongst the leadership. 

·         As a result of these challenges, the role of sport as a progressive transformational tool for society appears to be diminishing with the voices of ordinary sportspeople being drowned out by the bureaucracy of sport bodies.

·         I also need to make the point that Sport is an integral part of government’s priorities - in the National Development Plan (NDP) – and this is reiterated in the National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP).

·         SASCOC performs crucial functions for sport in the country bestowed and delegated to it in terms of the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Act no. 18 of 2007.

·         So – as SRSA and SASCOC – we have a joint interest in the well-being of sport.

·         So, when the risk arises, which may result in the performance of sport functions being hampered by actions or lack thereof, government must intervene. 

·         You will be well aware that such interventions by government are not new.  Precedent exists in the form of the Judge Pickard Commission in Football, the Judge Mervin King Commission in Athletics, and the Judge Nicholson Inquiry in Cricket. 

·         The present Committee of Inquiry simply seeks to test the validity or lack thereof of the allegations made to the Minister regarding governance infractions within SASCOC. To the extent that these issues may be caused by systematic failures, the Inquiry must also look at the underlying causes for such failures. Simply put:

o        What is the problem?

o        Where does it come from and what are the causes?

o         What then are the possible solutions?

·         More generally, outside the specifics of the Inquiry, we may need to retrace the road traversed since the days of the struggles and debates around Unity. We may need to ask ourselves other pertinent questions: 

o        How did we get here?

o        Whether the structural arrangements are fit for purpose?

o        Did we miss anything along the way and if so what and how do we fix it?

o        The National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP) was great a step in the right direction, but we need to assess its implementation.

Having made those general introductory remarks to give context, let me go to the specifics.

I.                    The Committee of Inquiry

First let me pay tribute to the leadership of SASCOC in demonstrating maturity on this matter. I met with the Board near OR Tambo airport on the 21st of January. We were able to clarify and address our respective concerns and find each other. The meeting agreed that the Zulman Ministerial Committee of Inquiry was the best platform to address any governance challenges being experienced by SASCOC – in the collective belief that good governance is critical to delivering excellence in sport.

The meeting agreed to encourage all role-players and stakeholders who can contribute to the work of the Inquiry to do so.

I want to make one crucial clarification. An impression was created that the establishment of the Inquiry was in some way in response to allegations made by Mr Reddy. Nothing can be further from the truth. In my initial communication on the matter I made the following differentiation:

·         The now much-publicised dispute between the CEO and the SASCOC Board, I said, is an HR operational issue which will be addressed in terms of SASCOC’s HR policy and labour legislation – and I said at the time I was last here those were internal HR issues - the Minister has no business interfering.

·         By contrast, the allegations made of maladministration and failure to comply with the SASCOC constitution are issues of governance – where the Minister has a mandate of oversight. Hence the establishment of the Inquiry.

The background to the latter is as follows:

·         During 2017, I became aware of various allegations of irregularities in the governance of SASCOC – both through the media and from approaches made by individuals and federations – which, if unchecked, would tarnish the image of SASCOC and sports in general.

·         Given the seriousness of the allegations, I was not satisfied with the responses I received.

·         As Minister, I am obliged to act on such a matter. The Committee of Inquiry was established in line with instructions received from the Minister of Justice and the State Law Attorneys – on similar lines to the establishment of the Judge Nicholson Inquiry in Cricket.

·         The SASCOC Committee of Inquiry was duly formed on 20 October 2017, and is up and running and currently collecting written submissions, and will be shortly taking oral submissions.

·         SASCOC did raise legitimate legal concerns. But as I said, we were able to engage, find each other and together we agreed to avoid the costly and time-consuming legal route.

·         Let me emphasise: it is an independent inquiry comprising Judge Ralph Zulman (chair), Dr Ali Bacher and Attorney Shamima Gaibie. Also, it makes recommendations – and at that point we will bring the recommendations back to SASCOC and engage on finding a way forward.

·         By the way, one lesson of the Reddy case must be that there is nothing to be gained by airing dirty linen in public – indeed it carries major risks for the SASCOC brand.

A final point on the Inquiry, by way of analogy, today most sports commentators and enthusiasts would agree that, despite initial resistance, the independent Nicholson Inquiry into irregularities in Cricket was able to identify problems and recommend solutions, in the process rescuing and strengthening the image of Cricket.

 

The current Inquiry provides such an opportunity for SASCOC.

Meanwhile SASCOC still has work to do. The Inquiry has not suspended individuals, structures or powers and obligations of SASCOC. So, I want to discuss some issues in that regard.

 

II.                  SASCOC Business

As you know the National Sport and Recreation Act requires SRSA and SASCOC to enter into a Service Level Agreement and for SASCOC to report on a quarterly basis across ten deliverables against a number of indicators. The level of reporting, unfortunately, remains uneven - very much a work in progress. I therefore urge the President and the Acting CEO to provide all the reports as agreed.

But let me end this section with positive news. The agreement for financial year 2017/18 was for an allocation of R9,813,000 (nine million, eight hundred and thirteen thousand rands) from SRSA to SASCOC. An additional R2 million will be allocated at the start of financial year 2018/19 to support the delivery of team SA to the Commonwealth Games.

III.                Sports Transformation

Let us remind ourselves that the transformation of sport is a national priority – part of Outcome 14: to promote social cohesion and nation building. Whilst we have seen real progress in some codes – most spectacularly with Rugby 7s – progress appears to be slow in relation to our participation in multi-coded international events.

For the 2014 Commonwealth Games, team South Africa was more than 70% white. At Rio the representation was 60% white. I hope we will see further improvement in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This is about the national image of the country and the credibility of Team South Africa. It is about the political impact of the optics: people see an overwhelmingly white delegation to an international event, and questions are asked in Parliament – and we have to explain why development and transformation is so slow.

[By the way, one positive aspect – I was heartened to see that the announcement of Team SA for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games was not followed by the usual – much-publicised – objections and disputes. SASCOC must be getting it right.]

Looking forward, without going code by code, let me share with you some of the generic findings of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) Transformation Report for 2016/17:

·         A generally untransformed profile of SASCOC’s Council and that of Olympic and Commonwealth Games, participants and officials coupled to unclear policies about the future in this regard.

·         Ongoing low black African representation levels in all areas on and off the field of play in most codes – is a major long-term strategic weakness and threat to South African sport, and

·         Under-representation and inadequate participation opportunities for women and disabled persons in sport on and off the field of play remains,

·         All National Federations Schools Sport programs are still largely focused on a limited number of previous model C Schools, which in 1994 was a 100% white. This is a main contributory reason for many sporting codes to demographically transform their sport.

 

So, more importantly, it would be important for SASCOC to elevate their oversight responsibility over sporting codes to ensure that federations are setting and meeting transformation targets.

 

The Transformation Audit Report will most probably be released by the end of March – and I would suggest that SASCOC makes time to engage with the Report – a member of the EPG can assist if required.

 

In concluding:

·         Keep doing the good work that you do as SASCOC.

·         Address the challenges which have been identified, and

·         Get involved in the Committee of Inquiry. Use it as an opportunity to review the operations of SASCOC – and who knows – it may provide a platform for a wider discussion about reviewing and renewing the wider sports system.

 Thank you.

 


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