Eastern Province Rugby Union, SASCOC, stadiums, Safety at Sports & Recreation Events Act implementation: discussion

Sports, Arts and Culture

23 August 2010
Chairperson: Mr B Komphela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Eastern Province Rugby Union would be invited to attend the Committee at a later stage due to a current shortage of information. The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee had declined an invitation to meet with the Committee. Members were indignant about what was described as an arrogant act.

Members reported on unfortunate events in the Eastern Cape. The elections of the Border Rugby Union had lead to division while an outbreak of violence at a club rugby match in Uitenhage had led to the death of a child and several injuries.

Members were concerned that proper arrangements had not been made for the utilisation of the World Cup stadiums in Durban and Cape Town in particular. The Committee resolved to meet with stakeholders in both cities.

Meeting report

The Chairperson informed Members that the planned briefing by the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) and the South African Rugby Union would not take place. The Committee had extended an invitation to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) but this organisation had sent a letter declining the invitation. He quoted sections from the Constitution and the Rules of Parliament which tabled the powers of Parliament and its Committees to request people and organisations to attend its meetings.

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) said that the letter from SASCOC indicated that its President, Mr Gideon Sam, had instructed the Chief Executive Officer not to attend the meeting. SASCOC must read the Constitution on how to deal with Parliament. The Committee must write to SASCOC again. If they still declined to attend, the Committee must take the most drastic steps at its disposal.

Mr D Lee (DA) noted the absence of the Eastern Cape rugby authorities. Things were happening in the region which were disturbing. The Border Rugby Union had held elections over the past weekend. The result had been a split with some parties walking out. Investors must have confidence in the region before committing funds to it. The flawed results of the elections could not be ignored as people were watching. The parties must realise what their actions were doing to the image of the game. He had rekindled his belief in the strength of the sport in the Eastern Cape based on the successes achieved on the field during the current season, but now his belief was being shaken.

Mr Lee had another disturbing event to report on from the weekend. At a club match supporters of one of the teams had resorted to violence over the result of the match. A child had been killed. This was very sad.

Mr Lee agreed with the Chairperson's stance on SASCOC. There were some Ministers that showed the same attitude of contempt to Parliament. He disagreed with Mr Sam's position. Sport was the best thing in the country at present. People must overcome their anger and change their attitudes.

Mr G MacKenzie (COPE) asked if the Chairperson had a copy of the invitation to SASCOC. He asked if there had been any discussion with the Minister. Mr Sam was arrogant. The legal process would have to be followed unless Mr Sam cooperated with the Committee.

The Chairperson said that SASCOC could hold its own opinion but must still respect Parliament. Mr Sam had said that he had spoken to the Minister but that was not enough. Mr Sam was obliterating Parliament. SASCOC had to show respect when it was called to Parliament.

Mr MacKenzie asked if Mr Sam was concerned over the sensitivity of any of the information he had discussed with the Minister.

The Chairperson was not aware of any sensitive matters.

Mr MacKenzie said that this smacked of total arrogance. The other matter that he wanted to discuss at this meeting was the stadiums. The World Cup host cities had made a presentation to the Committee the previous week. Members had received information about Cape Town and Durban. The vast amounts spent on the stadiums should not be allowed to go to waste.

Ms S Lebenya-Ntanzi (IFP) felt that the attitude of SASCOC was totally unacceptable. They could not defy Parliament.

Mr L Suka (ANC) asked who would be affected by the sensitive information alluded to by Mr Sam. SASCOC could not hide information from Parliament. The body was blowing hot and cold as it ran to Parliament whenever it needed help. He felt that there might have been a lack of level-headedness when the letter was written.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) said that the reporting lines for SASCOC ran through both the Ministry and Parliament. All of the SASCOC management were aware of the situation. All of them except for Mr Sam had served before. There was even a Member of Parliament on the management team. The Committee had to have a look at the sanctions that it could impose. Even Members of Parliament were liable to sanction in the event of misbehaviour. He suggested that the Committee should send SASCOC a stern letter before using its powers to compel SASCOC to attend.

Mr Frolick said that the walkout at the Border rugby elections were not the business of Parliament. People had the right to express themselves in this manner. He added that thirty people had also been injured at the incident in Uitenhage where the child had died. The police had investigated and suspects had been arrested the previous night. The Committee needed a report on this matter as soon as possible. What he found more scary was the implementation of the Safety at Sports and Recreation Events Act (SSREA). He asked what the Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA) had done to familiarise stakeholders with the contents of the Act. In this case, the match was a club event and the police had not been informed.

Mr Frolick asked if the federations were aware of what was expected of them. Even at school rugby matches in the Eastern Cape, there were many cases of parents assaulting the referee if they disagreed with a decision. A broader approach was needed.

The Chairperson agreed that attention was needed. The National Sports and Recreation Act (NSRA) prescribed service level agreements. He wondered if SASCOC was familiar with its provisions. SASCOC would know that it was accountable to Parliament and could not take such a stance. The SSREA was an enormous piece of legislation. The picture was even worse in the rural areas. SRSA would have to visit the Committee soon to present its Annual Report. The Department should include its report on the implementation of the legislation, including measures such as workshops held with the federations.

Mr Lee said that the Committee must write to SRSA. They needed to be informed of the events in the Eastern Cape. The Department should be asked if it had met SASCOC on the implementation of the SSREA. This issue was urgent.

The Chairperson said that the Department would be briefed. There was a chance that parents could sue. In terms of the SSREA, if the National Commissioner of Police was not informed about an event, then the organising federation was liable for damages that might occur. SASCOC was a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in a certain sense. It had not been created by an Act of Parliament. It was recognised by the Minister in terms of the NSRA. In essence it was not entirely an NGO. Parliament was the watchdog in terms of the 1998 Act and therefore SASCOC must account to Parliament by any means. The federations affiliated to SASCOC were required to report to Parliament annually.

Mr Frolick said that when SASCOC was in charge of team preparation for major events such as the Olympic Games, it depended on Parliament appropriating funds. Parliament could have a knee-jerk reaction by denying further funding.

The Chairperson referred to the saga with Athletics South Africa. It had been almost a year since the Caster Semenya incident had surfaced and there was still no report. SASCOC had a duty to inform Parliament. They had been asked to provide a report. Mr Lee had been correct. The Committee would never allow any person to be excluded from its deliberations due to personal enmity. SASCOC was playing a dangerous game. There was a process to deal with sensitive matters. The Committee could call a closed meeting. This would not be done at SASCOC's discretion. Information to the Committee should not go via the Minister. He would deal with the events in Uitenhage. This could not be allowed to happen again.

Mr Lee said that the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) must still be called.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was going to interact with the EPRU. However, not enough information was currently available. The EPRU would be called when the information was forthcoming. Everything must be done to prevent the formation of splinter groups.

Mr MacKenzie said that there was a big debate in Durban over the future of the Moses Mabhida Stadium. He was asking the Chairperson to summons the Sharks, Western Province Rugby Union and the city authorities from Durban and Cape Town. The situation with the World Cup stadiums was worse than they had been led to believe. Two people could not make a decision on multi-billion rand facilities. More background was needed.

The Chairperson said that there had been minimal to no consultation prior to the stadiums being built. They were public facilities and had to be of a multi-purpose nature. Durban had three Premier Soccer League clubs and the Sharks. The Cheetahs had not been involved in the development of the Free State Stadium and had lost revenue during its upgrade.

Mr Frolick said that it would be better if a delegation from the Committee were to visit Durban and interact with the parties. Newspaper reports that he had read indicated the need for some official engagement. All of the stadiums had to have operators. He understood that cricket was not a factor. Local matches attracted an average crowd of 20 000. In fact the sport was already spoilt by the availability of a number of first class venue.

The Chairperson admitted that he had not drawn comfort on the sustainability of the stadiums. He asked if there had been a clear business case for the venues. That was why the hearings had been called the previous week. They had to retain the commitments in the bid book. There would be timetable for the recoupment of government's investment.

Mr Dikgacwi supported Mr Frolick's comments.

The Chairperson said that hearings regarding the management of the Cape Town Stadium could be held in Parliament. He would have to check the parliamentary programme to see where two days could be set aside for a visit to Durban. Members would hold separate meetings with the parties involved and then a joint meeting.

Mr Frolick said that a difficulty with the presentation the previous week had been the absence of stadium operators. These were the people with the business plans. Municipalities did not have the capacity to maintain the stadiums. This was shown by the state of even modest community facilities. Members would be living in a fool's paradise if they thought otherwise.

Mr Dikgacwi said the constitution of operator agreements should be checked. He asked how many operators there were in the Gauteng area. If there was only one there should be an explanation.

The Chairperson agreed that this must be checked. Another aspect was that stadium operations should be dominated by people from that area. The Municipal Infrastructure Grant was still creating problems. The doors were being closed for municipalities. Funds for sports facilities needed to be ring-fenced. It was not a case of giving the facilities to commercial consortia. The facilities remained state assets while being managed by the consortia.

The Chairperson requested that the committee secretary prepare the minutes for recent meetings and provide copies for Members before the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.


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