University of Stellenbosch R2 Million Loan to Boland Athletics

Sports, Arts and Culture

23 May 2011
Chairperson: Mr BM Komphela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was to hold hearings on the petition from concerned athletes and interested stakeholders. However, the President of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee was overseas and had requested that the meeting to discuss the petition submitted by Athletics South Africa members be held over for a later date. This agenda item was postponed.

It was explained to Members that the University of Stellenbosch had advanced an amount of R2 million to Boland Athletics for a project on the understanding that they would be reimbursed after a Lottery grant had been paid out. This had still not happened some years later and the University was considering legal action against Boland Athletics to recover the money. The Committee agreed to intervene before the matter was taken to court. Correspondence was needed from the University and the Lottery so that Members could consider the facts of the matter. The Committee also wished to speak to Dr Harold Adams, President of Boland Athletics, who had played a key role in the agreement.

The Committee would soon be visiting Argentina and the United Kingdom. Members had also received a number of invitations to other functions.

Meeting report

The Chairperson made some comments on the local government election results. It was pleasing to see the number of voters increasing at each election. It was good to see that there was no hostility amongst Members. He congratulated all parties on the way in which their campaigns had been run.

The Chairperson announced that the study group to Argentina and the United Kingdom (UK) would be leaving in three weeks. He trusted that Members had made the necessary travel arrangements. The Argentinian Ambassador to South Africa would like to meet with the delegation before their departure. He suggested 31 May. It was important to hear what the Ambassador had to impart. The South African (SA) Ambassador to Argentina was doing good work in that country, and was excited to meet the group. The SA Ambassador to the UK was also looking forward to the visit.

The Chairperson said that the Secretary of Parliament had invited the Committee to attend the Africa Day celebrations. Members could not attend this. There was also an invitation to Members to attend the final of the Nedbank Challenge on 28 May. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) had forwarded the invitation and would arrange for the accommodation of Members in Mbombela. The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) was hosting a delegation from the Nigerian Parliament. There were only five doping laboratories in the world, just two of which were in Africa. The visit would include a visit to the laboratory in Bloemfontein. The Minister had invited Members to attend a gala event in Johannesburg. All nine provinces would host their own sports conferences before the national conference. The event hosted by the Minister would be on 27 May and would launch the conference process. Election campaigning had prevented Members from attending similar events. It was important for Members to honour such invitations.

The Chairperson said that there was some correspondence from the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). Mr Gideon Sam (SASCOC President) would be in Hungary for much of May, and would be unable to attend the Committee meetings. SASCOC had not had sight of the petition which would be discussed. SASCOC would like to review the petition before the meeting. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) would be meeting in South Africa. SASCOC had requested that the meeting to discuss the athletes' position should be held over until after the IOC meeting.

Mr Komphela did not agree with the standpoint taken by SASCOC. It was not up to SASCOC to recognise the petition. The petition had been forwarded to the Committee in terms of the national Constitution and the rules of the National Assembly. The petitioners had anticipated that SASCOC would not agree with them.

Mr D Lee (DA) accepted that Mr Sam was out of the country. It was only fair that SASCOC should have a copy of the petition so that they could formulate their response before meeting with the Committee. This should happen as soon as possible.

Mr G MacKenzie (COPE) agreed with Mr Lee's sentiments.

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) said that the ANC agreed that SASCOC should be provided with a copy.

The Chairperson said that this would be done. However, it was the Committee that would take action on the petition. A date for the meeting would be set in accordance with the request of SASCOC.

Mr J McGluwa (ID) felt that it was common cause that a copy of the petition should have gone to SASCOC.

The Chairperson said it was an unsolicited position. Even Members had not been given copies until it was tabled. This preserved the integrity of the petition. SASCOC should have attended the meeting at which it was tabled. A copy would now be sent to SASCOC with the approval of the Committee.

Mr MacKenzie said that the tone of the letter from SASCOC reflected a greater degree of respect for Parliament than had been the case in the past.

The Chairperson said that all persons and organisations had to act in accordance with the Constitution.

The Chairperson said that during the interaction with the petitioners, the University of Stellenbosch (US) had been discussed. A grant from the Lottery had been made to the US. The University had to be re-imbursed as they had undertaken expenses on the understanding that the Lottery would compensate them. R5 million was given to the Boland federation but not passed on to US. This payment had still not been made, and the US was considering legal action. There was an allegation that members of the Lottery board were not honest in their allocations. The refurbishment of the athletics track had been done at the expense of the University in the interest of getting the job done.

Ms Gugu Ntuli, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Stellenbosch University Sport Performance Institute (SUSPI), said that SUSPI was an organisation that managed sport on behalf of the US. She confirmed what the Chairperson had said. The situation had strained relations between US and the Boland federation. SUSPI was looking for an amicable solution to the problem. Several attempts had been made to resolve the situation.

Mr Lee asked if the communication was between US and the Boland federation or with the Lottery. There was also a Maties Athletics Club involved.

Ms Ntuli said that the communication was with Boland. SUSPI managed sport on behalf of the Maties club, amongst other bodies. The Maties club was trying to resolve the issue without involving US management, but the situation had reached a point where intervention from US was needed.

Mr L Suka (ANC) appreciated the brief presentation. He asked if there was any written correspondence to assist the Committee in applying its mind. He wanted clarity on the amount of the loan arrangement.

Mr J van der Linde (DA) agreed wholeheartedly with Mr Suka's opinion. Mr Wilfred Daniels had made a verbal report on the matter at a previous meeting. He suggested that the Committee write to the US and Maties club to solicit as much information as possible. There should be minutes of the meeting where the matter had been discussed. Dr Adams had been President of Maties club at the time.

Mr MacKenzie was also concerned at the apparent lack of documentary evidence. He asked if there had been any breakthroughs achieved by the intervention of top management, or if the help of the Committee was now needed.

Ms Ntuli said that her briefing had been limited. The US was hoping to resolve the issue. The relationship with athletics in the province was in disrepair. The issue needed urgent attention as it was harming the relationship between US and athletics. She would take up the matter with her superior.

Mr Lee agreed that a higher management decision was needed. However, the Committee wanted to be involved in any way in which it could promote the sound management of sport in the country. There should be no negative impact on sportspeople.

Mr Suka said that the fact of the matter was that a US delegation was before the Committee. The matter had been brewing for some time. Some entry point was needed in the form of a document so that the Chairperson could have some insight before engaging with the parties.

Mr Dikgacwi said it would be proper, once the documents were received, that Boland Athletics should be called to explain why the money could not be paid to US. His understanding was that Boland would hand over the money as soon as it was received from the Lottery.

The Chairperson said that a document was needed to confirm that the R2 million was given to the Maties club on the understanding that the Lottery would finance the development. The Lottery had made a payment of R5 million. This payment should have made it simple to resolve the issue. He would also like to see any correspondence reminding Boland of the agreement. If the sports federations were acting incorrectly the Committee would intervene. It seemed at face value that Boland had acted under false pretences. The matter had dragged on for too long. It would eventually go to court if it remained unresolved, in which case the Committee would no longer be able to assist. The Committee appreciated what Ms Ntuli's boss had done. The US should delay court action until the Committee had attempted to intervene.

Ms Ntuli said that the matter had dragged on for four years.

Mr Lee said it had been suggested that Boland should also be called.

The Chairperson had not forgotten this, but the Committee had completed its business with Ms Ntuli and excused her. The Committee would meet with Boland. He had anticipated that SASCOC would be present, in which case Members would have been kept busy until late in the day. There had been problems in agreeing on a date for Dr Adams to appear before the Committee, as he was now travelling with President Zuma. It would be a problem if Dr Adams was out of the country. Dr Adams should not have to baby-sit the President while he was in the country.

Mr McGluwa emphasised the need for the paper trail to be at hand.

The Chairperson said that this would be done by the end of the week. It was evident that there were some problems with the distribution of Lottery funding. There was an allegation that Lottery funding was being abused.

Mr Suka said that an explicit agenda should be drafted so that Dr Adams would know what information would be required of him, and so that he could prepare appropriate evidence.

The Chairperson said it was clear that SUSPI had loaned the money to Maties athletics. It was still a mystery what had happened to the R5 million grant.

Mr MacKenzie asked if there was an agreement. Members had not seen any documentation on that, let alone how the money was spent. Allegations had to be backed up be evidence. There was no doubt the R2 million had been paid, but there might be a different interpretation on the terms of repayment.

The Chairperson said that if there was no agreement on the repayment of the loan then US would not now be trying to recover the money.

Mr van der Linde asked if it would be possible to confirm from the Lottery that the R5 million was paid over, and what the purpose of the grant was. Grants were only made in response to a specific application. If the repayment of the loan from Stellenbosch was not specified in the grant then it could not be used for that purpose.

The Chairperson replied that the repayment of the loan should have been in the application for the grant. He agreed that an explanation should be obtained from the Lottery.

Mr Suka asked for what programme the R2 million would have been used.

The Chairperson instructed the Secretary to obtain a copy of the conditions for the R5 million grant. He asked the Secretary to find a date for the meeting with SASCOC. The matter needed to be resolved. He asked Members if they were ready to approve the minutes of previous meetings.

Mr Lee said that the approval of minutes should be held over as they had only been received that day.

The meeting was adjourned.


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