The Minister of Sport and Recreation delivered a foreword on the Departments 2008/09 Annual Report. He briefly touched on some of the challenges facing the Department and the broader sporting community in South Africa. The Department was encouraged that the success of the School Mass Participation Programme had increased participation in sport as well as developed sport champions. At the same time, the Department was mindful that many children were excluded from this programme. For that reason, it had called on all stakeholders to work together to intensify the development of sport and to deliver support to learners who displayed talent.
The Director-General, together with his colleagues presented the actual report. Their presentation focused on some of the achievements, challenges and financial performance of the Department. Some of the main areas of concern included the persistent qualified report, staff shortages and problems with Boxing South Africa. The Department mentioned that the lack of sporting recreational facilities in poor communities was exacerbated by the half-hearted co-operation from the municipalities. They suggested the use of the National Lottery funds to help poor municipalities and were thankful of the increase in the budget allocation to the Department. The Department together with stakeholders had intensified mass mobilisation for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup throughout the continent. The Department had transferred funds to the respective municipalities for the construction of stadiums and that legacy should be well maintained.
Members were concerned about the lack of sporting facilities in rural communities, the commercialisation of sports and the level of vacancies in the Department. The Committee also discussed the suspension of senior staff, the problems at Boxing South Africa and how sporting federations should be compelled to pay royalties for using the Protea emblem
The Minister of Sports and Recreation, Mr Makhenkesi Stofile, said that the annual report was an assessment of the road travelled and also provided direction for the way forward. He noted that sport played an integral role in the balance of forces in any country. Despite sport competing for public resources with many other worthy causes, the Department would not tire in its attempts to maximise access, development and excellence at all levels of participation and development in sport and recreation. The Department was encouraged that the success of the School Mass Participation Programme had increased participation in sport as well as developed sport champions. At the same time, the Department was mindful that many children were excluded from this programme. For that reason, it had called on all stakeholders to work together to intensify the development of sport and to deliver support to learners who displayed talent.
He was concerned about the commercialisation of sports, and felt that it needed to be regulated. The Minister acknowledged that governance had improved a great deal as was reflected by a drop in the reasons for qualification. The former National Sports Congress had an agreement with the sporting federations to pay royalties for the use of the Protea emblem but most federations ignored this. The Department would continue striving for unity in all sporting codes and was therefore disappointed with the racism displayed at a recent sports event in Ermelo. The Committee and the Department were urged to resolve the challenges around the distribution of lottery funds for sports. Civil Servants were notorious for protecting their own turfs and this hampered progress in the development.
The Minister said that he was waiting for a report from Athletics South Africa and South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) on the Caster Semenya debacle. The release of the test results to the media was unethical and immoral. This violated the doctor patient relationship. He urged the press to leave the young woman alone.
The Chairperson informed Members that the Chairpersons of all Sports Committees in the provinces would be meeting to facilitate the celebration of all local sporting heroes.
The Minister said, "On Boxing SA, we instituted a comprehensive investigation of the actual problem. That report is ready. We want to convene a proper meeting and bring in the provincial managers and include the NCOP Select Committee responsible for provinces. We do have a strong recommendation to do a forensic audit on the 'baby champs' and the Director General is managing that forensic audit. When all this is done, we will be able to move forward past the present lacuna."
He said that the Department had contemplated dissolving the organisation but legal opinion suggested an amendment to the Act governing BSA, the South African Boxing Act. BSA had transgressed its own laws by appointing the Acting CEO without the necessary Cabinet approval.
The Chairperson invited Members to comment on the Minister’s assessment
Mr D Lee (DA) thanked the Deputy Minister Gert Oosthuisen for his co-operation with the Committee. He also agreed with the Minister’s comments about the commercialisation of sports.
Mr G Mackenzie (COPE) wanted clarity regarding the statement made by Ms Winnie Mandela on the Caster Semenya issue.
The Minister replied that he would download the statement and make this available to the Member.
Ms T Sunduza (ANC) addressed three issues. Firstly, she could not understand why the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) was not monitoring sports like the former USASA. Secondly, she accused the 2010 Local Organising Committee of undermining the Committee notwithstanding the fact that government had provided the funds to build and renovate the stadiums. Lastly, she commented that the Department’s qualified audit opinion could partly be blamed on the fact that some of the vacancies were filled by unqualified people.
The Minister replied that SASCOC did not seem to understand transformation and that USASA only focused on organising tournaments. The vacuum left by USASA was not filled because there was no school sports body to co-ordinate all school sports federations. School sports should be properly co-ordinated and structured from the bottom up then the Government would fund it. Women sports should be run by women and this was not the case at present for all sports. He cited the example that women hockey was run by women whereas women soccer was administered by men. He said that women should take care of the women federations and meet men on an equal footing.
Mr J Van Der Linde (DA) lamented the state of school sports facilities and urged that this issue had to be addressed especially those in rural areas. In addition, she stated that the Department could not expect to be successful when the vacancies were not filled.
The Minister admitted that the lack of adequate sports facilities was an area of concern for the Department. There were thousands of talented people in the rural areas that needed to be groomed. Talent had to be nourished carefully in order to bloom
The Chairperson mentioned that the Committee went to inspect some of the sporting facilities in Port Elizabeth after the public hearings. The facilities were built by a legacy fund from the British and Irish Lions rugby tour, he said that the facilities were great.
Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) said that he was concerned with the slow pace of transformation.
Mr L Suka (ANC) urged the communications unit in the Department to publicise the good work done by the SRSA. Additionally, he reiterated the comment made by Mr Van Der Linde about school sports facilities.
Mr Lee asked the Minister to speak to SASCOC regarding school sports.
Mr Dikgacwi voiced concern regarding resolutions that were taken by the ruling party and then ignored by the sporting bodies. He suggested that Committee should initiate legislation that would compel sporting federations to pay royalties for using the Protea emblem.
Mr Vernie Peterson, Director-General, SRSA, agreed that regulatory framework could be pursued but the money would go straight to treasury rather than the Department. Some Federations were willing to pay (royalties) especially rugby and cricket but they wanted to determine the amounts they would be paying. Other federations like soccer were not willing to pay any royalties at all.
The Chairperson mentioned that the Committee was willing to help the Department on this matter. Mechanisms could be set up to investigate and calculate the amounts that were supposed to be paid by the federations.
Mr Suka asked the D-G to provide a timeline for when a model would be developed and implemented on this issue.
Mr Peterson said that the Auditor General wanted a concrete basis on why the Department wanted the royalties.
Mr Makota Matlala, CFO, SRSA, informed the Committee that the Department had outsourced the function of calculating the royalties to a private company. The appointed company had been expected to table their recommendation on 31 October 2009. The report has been delayed as a result of minor challenges that they were experiencing.
The Chairperson expressed his concern because the matter had been in the pipeline for 15 years.
Mr Suka echoed the Chairperson’s frustration and stated that time was of the utmost importance.
Mr Suka asked why the Department had so many acting senior staff. What happened to the money allocated to the posts? Was the allocation rolled over to the next financial year?
Mr Peterson indicated that the post of Director International Relations had been filled and that adverts had been put out for the remaining vacancies. He added that the filling of vacant posts was a slow process requiring a competency tests, verification of qualifications and the slow vetting process. The money that was allocated to posts (and went unspent) was directed back to the Treasury.
Mr C Frolic (ANC) asked what sort of advocacy the Department had done with regards to 2010 Soccer World Cup. Also, he asked why Members and Government officials were not invited to events leading to the World Cup.
In response to the first issue, Mr Peterson replied that the Department had raised this matter with the South African Football Association (SAFA).
The Chairperson voiced his concern regarding the non-distribution of the Sports Indaba Resolutions.
Mr Peterson mentioned that he had been in the post from the 27th October 2008. He raised concerns about the challenges facing Boxing SA and cited that the gaps in legislation had contributed to this state of affairs. The lack of sporting recreational facilities in poor communities was exacerbated by the half- hearted co-operation from the municipalities. He suggested the use of the National Lottery funds to help poor municipalities and was thankful of the increase in the budget allocation to the Department. The Department together with stakeholders had intensified mass mobilisation for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup throughout the continent. The Department had transferred funds to the respective municipalities for the construction of stadiums and that legacy should be well maintained. The reviewing of sports tourism was done with the Department of tourism.
He admitted that the vetting and the qualification verification process were slow. Other challenges were the high staff turnover and low moral. Staff shortage caused pressure that led to shortcuts.
Ms Lulu Sizani Chief Director Corporate Services mentioned that the Audit Unit was not fully staffed and that slowed down performance She that the Department hosted a Hospitality Centre in Beijing named Ikhaya. The whole process costed R16, 5 million; there were problems with access because of the stringent security measures around the former President George W Bush contingent.
Mr M Matlala CFO spoke about the progress in the supply chain management such as awarding 45% of tenders to disadvantaged individuals. The Department had maintained an up to date database of all the suppliers. The money that was intended to be transferred to BSA almost fell on the hands of fraudsters. The culprits were apprehended with the help of banking officials.
Mr Lee examined two issues. Firstly, he enquired about the lists of the sports clubs that received support from the Department. Secondly, he sought clarity on whether BSA was working with fraudsters.
On the first issue, Mr Matlala confirmed that the Department had such a list, and undertook to provide it to Members on a later date. On the second issue, he clarified that the fraudsters were from outside the Department, but were helped by someone from within the Department.
Ms Sunduza enquired about the reasons for the expulsion of the former Communications Director, Mr Dan Moyo, and why the post was still vacant.
Mr Peterson replied that the position was not filled because it required a highly skilled person with lots of experience
Mr Suka mentioned that absenteeism was costing Department dearly. How many days were allocated to employees for sick leave?
Ms Sizani replied that employees were entitled to 36 days sick leave a year.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) enquired about the cost of the gymnasiums that the Department had constructed and which provinces had benefited from this.
Mr Matlala replied that the gyms were distributed to the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Limpopo and cost about R450 000 each.
Mr Dikgacwi said that vacant posts translated to slowing down of service delivery, he asked about the costs of grievances to the Department.
Mr Mackenzie suggested that the recruitment process could be outsourced.
Mr Peterson answered that the Department had been recruiting to fill the vacancies and the responses were massive. He said that the vetting process could not be outsourced. Some people would leave for greener pastures, and the 3 senior managers were charged and left the Department. IT was a scarce skill and it was difficult to retain. Employment Equity sometimes made it difficult to fill vacancy because only white male candidates were available to fill a certain vacancy.
Ms Sizani replied that she would forward information on grievances later to the Committee. The only vacancy that had been empty for a long time was that of the Chief Operations Officer, the rest had been vacant through resignations. She emphasised that the Department had an existing staff retention policy.
The Chairperson and Mr Frolic wanted to know whether the money wasted on the Ikhaya debacle would be reimbursed.
Mr Peterson acknowledged that poor planning caused the Ikhaya debacle. He also confirmed that the Department would not be reimbursed and that all the equipment that was used for the promotion of 2010 had been distributed to the nearby South African embassy.
The Chairperson said that the (Ikhaya) problem was going to dog the Department for a very long time. He suggested that the D-G should approach the Auditor General for advice on the matter.
Ms T Lishivha (ANC) asked about the amount of money that was transferred for the NGOs.
Mr Van Der Linde asked why some races were represented more than others in the Department.
Ms Sizani replied that other races were over represented because sometimes people did not reply to adverts.
The Chairperson asked for clarity regarding the original amalgamation agreement regarding salaries. The principles of amalgamation were not correct hence the problems in the Department
Ms Sunduza mentioned that she had names of the people who practiced nepotism in the Department. Certain people were employed because they were related to people with influence or they belonged to a certain denomination.
Mr Peterson said that allegations of nepotism and corruption were always there but it was difficult to deal with rumour. He promised that the Department would undertake an investigation on the matter.
Mr Suka asked for the reason that two people were suspended for 256 days, and asked for clarity on the term “precautionary suspension”.
Ms Sizani explained that a precautionary suspension was applied when the Department suspended an individual but still continued the investigation. This was to prevent the person from committing further acts. The phrase was used in the labour relations circles. On the suspensions, she said that one of the suspended employees became sick and the law stipulated a person could not continue with the case.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting due to time limitations and announced that it would continue the next day.
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