Speech - Dep. Min. of Sports, Arts & Culture, Ms Nocawe Mafu, MP - SASCOC General Meeting - 08/06/2019

10 June 2019

Deputy Minister Of Sports, Arts and Culture, Ms Nocawe Mafu, MP

President of the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), Mr Gideon Sam and SASCOC Board Members,

The Director-General of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC), Mr Alec Moemi,

The Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Patience Shikwambana,

Presidents and Chairpersons of the National Sport Bodies and the CEOs present her,

Presidents of the Provincial Confederations

Senior Government Officials and Staff Present,

SASCOC’s Senior Management and Staff,

Members of the Fourth Estate “the Media” and

All invited guests

Allow me to convey the well wishes from our Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who could not join us due to another assignment.  He is on a mission to support our Banyana Banyana Team as they embark on their maiden showing at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.  Please join me in congratulating our Heroines, Banyana Banyana for this historic qualification and in wishing them the best as they represent our great Nation, South Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen I am reminded of the words of our former President of the Republic of South Africa, the late, Dr Nelson MandeIa who once said;

“I am fundamentally an optimist.  Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say.  Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward.  There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.  That way lays defeat and death”

This remains an apt message to all of us as we enter the 6th Administration of our Democratic Government.  It is humbling that South Africans are and remain optimistic in the midst of negativity and challenges the country and the world is facing.  Our citizens demonstrated this optimism when they came out in numbers on the 8th of May 2019 and once again entrusted the Ruling Party, the African National Congress, led by the Honourable, President Ramaphosa, with a clear mandate and responsibility to restore hope and uplift the lives of all South Africans.

It is now common knowledge that the President has in his wisdom deemed it fit to reconfigure the State to fulfil the commitment made to the people of South Africa of creating a more efficient and effective Government geared towards the optimal delivery of services.  This process has given birth to amongst other Departments, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

Ladies and Gentlemen whilst the Minister and I are emboldened by the belief the President has shown in us by entrusting us with this Portfolio, we are conscious of the magnitude of the task ahead, the expectations of our people and a special place sport, arts and culture has in the hearts and souls of our Nation.  This is a unique service that transcends all which most sectors have to offer.  It is a sector that unites people regardless of their colour, age, gender or class. 

The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has not paused, instead has engaged a higher gear, understanding that whilst administrative changes are in progress, the people of South Africa remain expectant of the Government that has the spirit of “Thuma Mina” and moved to embrace the call by the Nation to “Khawuleza” “Make haste” in creating a socially cohesive society rooted on the principles of equity, redress of the past imbalances, and on the progressive realisation of improvements in the quality of life of the poor through the implementation of sport, arts and culture programmes. 

Today I am making a clarion call to all gathered here and to all sports administrators and leaders throughout the country to embrace this vision and commit to use sport as a catalyst for the realisation of a future envisioned in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and in particular, the Bill of Rights.  Yes, sport is about play, fun, enjoyment and improvements of one’s health.  However, it is more importantly a multi-billion rand industry through which the country can fight the scourge of unemployment, social ills, hopelessness and despair particularly amongst the young people.  Let us harness this potential for the prosperity of our country.

President as we celebrate the Youth Month, let us pause and reflect on how we are serving the young of people of our country in and through sport.  It is interesting to note that the study on athletes participating at the 2012 London Olympics, revealed that the average age of the athletes was 26.1 years with the median age of the South African Team being 24.5.  Now, Sport Leaders, let us reflect on ourselves, starting with the SASCOC Board – what is the average age?  The SASCOC Council – what is the average age?  Who is the sport about? Are we applying the principle “Not about us without us”?  The young people of our country are becoming more and more impatient and restless.  They cannot afford to be spectators whilst they are the main item on the agenda.  I am therefore calling upon the leaders gathered here to heed the message from our Government to hear the cries of our Youth and create a platform for the young people to participate meaningfully in the administration of sport as well to bridge the generational gap – anyway it is about them!

Whilst visible progress has been made in terms of the participation of women in sport more still needs to be done and the disparities in terms of support, rewards as well as involvement is the administration of sport remains deplorable.  This has to be attended to with urgency!.

Ladies and Gentlemen the work and commitments made by the 5th Administration have not been abandoned.  Therefore the work on the implementation of the recommendations of The Ministerial Committee Appointed to Investigate Alleged Irregularities or Malpractices in the Governance and Management of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) continues.  The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture led by Minister Mthethwa would therefore ensure that this work is carried out to its logical conclusion.

President, we continue to witness an unfortunate situation wherein the Administrators of our Federations are in perpetual disputes – some in and out of courts.  This is shifting the focus from the core and reasons for their involved in the administration of sport.  Just like the Minister and myself, we have not been put in our positions to serve ourselves, you are not in the Federations’ leadership positions to serve yourselves.  You are there to serve the people and the sporting community.  These fights, President, are destroying the sport and the confidence - a premium ingredient so precious for the corporates to invest in sport in support of our course.  I do not want to attribute the recent undesirable performances of our National Teams to the administrative deficiencies but more often than not what we witness in the field of play reflect the state of the Boardroom where the battle strategies are drawn.  Ladies and Gentlemen the country is already asking hard questions to us as the political leaders.  Therefore we shall robustly be engaging with you on the performance of our National Teams.  We need answers the Nation cannot take nor endure more pain.

Ladies and Gentlemen Transformation in Sport is not an option, it is a must.  We therefore remain resolute in our quest to ensure that this task is fulfilled and fulfilled with speed in spite of the threats of litigation meted out against federations such as Netball South Africa and the court case brought against the Department, Athletics South Africa, Netball South Africa, Cricket South Africa, and the South African Rugby Union.  We will not relent – this is the fight we are prepared to pay the highest price for until our National Teams reflect the demographics of the country.  Participation in sport cannot remain the preserve of a few.

As you embark on the business of the day I would like you to reflect on the matters I have raised today in my maiden encounter with yourselves.  Ask yourselves how often have these issues featured in your agenda?  What resolutions have you made on them?  What progress have you made in addressing them?  The Minister and I shall be expecting answers to these questions.  Yes business continues but must continue in a different mode “Asikhawuleze” South Africans cannot wait any longer to see and experience the society they desire.

I wish you a successful General Meeting.  May you have fruitful and progressive discussions for the advancement of sport and our Society.

I thank you

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