Report on petition by concerned athletes about SASCOC; Suspension of SA Sea and Sport Anglers Federation; Horse-racing Industry: discussion

Sports, Arts and Culture

05 September 2011
Chairperson: Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The discussed the petition from the athletes concerning the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. The process had been completed and the report was to be submitted to the House. The petition called for reinstatement of suspended board members with immediate effect. However the Committee deliberated and recommended that there were shortcomings in the process, as some of the issues raised in the petition were outside of the mandate of the Portfolio Committee and the National Assembly. The Committee found that certain matters raised in the petition were the subject matter of ongoing legal proceedings and therefore could not make pronouncements thereon. The Committee on Sports and Recreation recommended that the Committee was unable to recommend any relief for the petitioners along the lines called for in their petition. The petition in itself entirety should be referred to the Minister of Sports and Recreation for further consideration. The Committee recommended that the House endorse the report.

The Love-Life presentation was postponed. The Chairperson made it clear to Love Live not to come to the Committee unless the documents had been received at least a week ahead of time, because the Committee members needed sufficient time to review the information in advance. The documents had not arrived by Friday of the prior, so they were instructed not to come.

The Chairperson was informed that the horse-racing federation had been suspended by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. Also, due to unforeseen, last minute circumstances, the horse-racing delegation could not attend the Committee meeting and they requested a postponement for a future date when all delegates could attend. The Africa Racing Group presented ideas on broadening the sport. However Committee member questioned whether it was prudent get involved into internal matters, given that the Committee did not know what the reason for the suspension was. The Committee thanked the Africa Racing Group for their presence and stated that the Committee could possibly interact with the Group in future.

The Chairperson raised the submission from the South African Sea and Sport Anglers Federation before the Committee concerning a dispute between SA Sea and Sport Anglers Federation and the Olympic body. Members proposed that the Committee refer the matter back to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee with a one pager that recommended that the Olympic body and the Federation hold a meeting to resolve this matter between themselves.

The Committee also discussed the issues of Springbok jerseys manufactured internationally and the implications of supporting local businesses. Also the issues of the U-20 water polo team travel costs and Cricket South Africa’s internal dispute was discussed and these federations would be invited to the Committee to explain their various issues in the future.

Meeting report

Report on Petition by concerned athletes about the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)
The Chairperson asked the Committee to review its report on the petition by concerned athletes from the concerning SASCOC. The process had been completed and the report was to be submitted to the House. The Committee noted that 45 individuals signed the petition. Upon scrutiny, many petitioners had not provided contact details. The Committee had invited sports bodies and individuals to participate in the hearing process, which took place on 8 February 2011, 29 March 2011, 24 May 2011 and 16 August 2011. The concerned athletes petitioned the National Assembly to initiate an investigation into the activities of SASCOC in relation to its conduct in dealing with the Athletics South Africa (ASA) board members and nullify the suspension of the board, to investigate SASCOC activities regarding the lottery, prevent SASCOC from being a ‘player and a referee’ by suspending the board of ASA, prevent SASCOC from infringing the basic due process rights of the ASA board members. The petition called for the reinstatement of suspended board members with immediate effect. However, the Committee had deliberated and recommended that there were shortcomings in the process, as some of the issues raised in the petition were outside of the mandate of the Committee and the National Assembly. Some of the matters were the subject matter of ongoing legal proceedings and therefore the Committee could not make pronouncements thereon. The Committee further advised that it was unable to recommend any relief for the petitioners along the lines called for in their petition. The petition in itself entirety should be referred to the Minister of Sports and Recreation for further consideration. The Committee recommended that the House endorse the report.

The Chairperson asked Members if they agreed with the report.

Mr J McGluwa (ID) stated that it was a pity that Advocate Anthea Gordon, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, was not present at the meeting. The former Chairperson, Mr Butana Khompela, had sought her opinion about how the Committee should engage with the petition. It was strange that the Advocate’s recommendations were not noted within the report, as the Committee acted on her advice. Why was Adv Gordon not able see the shortcomings in the process that the issues raised in the petition were outside of the mandate of the Committee and the National Assembly? Members expected her to advise the Committee accordingly.

The Chairperson replied that Adv Gordon had sent an apology as she was busy with another committee. She was not assigned specifically to the Committee and had other commitments. The Committee Secretary had sent the report to Adv Gordon for her to peruse the recommendations. She had referred the report back without making any changes. Therefore the report had the blessings of the Advocate as it contained the recommendations that she herself had outlined.

Mr D Lee (DA) stated that there was one omission in the report. It was not reflected in the report that there were duplications in the names of petitioners and this needed to be added.

The Chairperson stated that either the petition report should be sent to the House, or it should be debated. If the Committee wanted to add to this report, then it should agree to do so, however the Committee had been dealing with this matter for too long.

Mr G MacKenzie (COPE) agreed with the Chairperson’s comments and stated that Mr McGluwa’s concerns were noted.

Mr McGluwa stated that he had no problem with report, but the minutes from Adv Gordon were missing. His concern was that the legal department had failed the Committee. The report needed to include the reasons why the “green light “was given.

The Chairperson noted that he had been interacting with Adv Gordon before these recommendation came to the Committee. A meeting was held to discus the matters and he did not agree with Mr McGluwa’s assessment that she had failed the Committee.

Mr L Suka (ANC) stated that substantively Mr McGluwa was saying that the Committee should move forward but the concerns were noted.

Mr T Lishivha (ANC) stated that her personal understanding was that if the Committee was advised by a legal advisor, it was the Committee’s prerogative to take that advice or not. Therefore Adv Gordon’s recommendations did not need to appear in the report because at the end of the day it was the Committee who considered the presentations and deliberated on them.

The Chairperson asked if Mr McGluwa was comfortable with the result.

Mr McGluwa replied that he was comfortable with the result.

It was agreed that the report would be referred to the House.

Presentation on Transformation in the Horse-racing Industry
The Chairperson mentioned that he attended the SASCOC workshop where the Deputy Minister of Sport, Mr Gert Oosthuisen, had presented on the National Sports Plan. At that gathering, he was informed that the horse-racing federation had been suspended by SASCOC. On the previous day, he had received an e-mail stating that due to unforeseen, last minute circumstances, some delegates would not be able to attend the Committee meeting and they requested a postponement for a future date when all delegates could attend. 

Mr Lee asked what the reason was behind the suspension of the horse-racing federation.

The Chairperson replied that he did not know and that he did not want to get involved.

Mr Suka stated that if there was a directive from SASCOC, the Committee needed to approach the matter carefully before it took a firm position.

Mr Lee stated that the Committee should not allow itself to undermine SASCOC, by entertaining people who were suspended. There should be a system in place to voice such concerns. The oversight that the Committee did was mostly financial. The Committee did not want get involved in infighting.

The Chairperson invited the delegation from Africa Racing Group to introduce themselves to the Committee.

Ms Phindie Kema, Chairwoman for Africa Racing Group (ARG), stated that the reason why ARG was here was to broaden the sport of horse-racing and that it did not make sense to have the horse-racing business without a market for it. ARG received an invitation to come to Parliament from colleagues in horseracing industry, this was exciting because for the first time the lawmaker was beginning to ask questions about the horse racing industry. There were areas of opportunities but there were things that were not happening in South Africa. ARG could make a positive contribution to South Africa by promoting horse-racing as sport. She stated that she was quite happy to take questions from the committee members.

Mr Lee asked whether ARG belonged to a larger group or union and should ARG be affiliated with SASCOC?

McGluwa asked why SASCOC was suspending the horse-racing federation.

Ms Kema stated that the horse-racing industry began as a hobby for the rich. As a consequence, it was not in the mainstream and had not necessarily managed to become a proper sport or a proper sector. Horse-racing was an industry that currently sat between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry, because that is where betting was regulated.  The jockeys and horses were the key components of horse-racing and therefore it was sport. There was an issue of overlap between departments and as a result there was no Ministry that took full responsibility for regulating horse-racing. The fact that horse-racing was characterised by “old money” had perpetuated itself and made it difficult for horse-racing issues to become South African issues, because these issues sat between individuals. This created a huge challenge because horse-racing was global, and if South African horse-racing did not move forward, it created problems with the regulation of the industry.

ARG chose not to affiliate within horse-racing, because the federation did not represent Ms Kema’s principles and did not deal with the priorities that affected a new entrant into the sport. Ms Kema was supported by British horse-racing and wanted to make a contribution to South Africa. So that South African horse-racing could become international. In Ireland the horse-racing industry was the second biggest employer because horses were luxury goods. Each horse required two-to three people to look after it. In England horse-racing was the fourth biggest employer and in Australia it was the third biggest employer. Australia had about 300 racecourses and in so many ways was comparable to South Africa because both countries loved sports and were big on agriculture. In South Africa there were 10 racecourses and the numbers were going down. This came from the fact that the country was not taking horse-racing forward.

Mr MacKenzie stated that the Committee was getting into dangerous territory, because it was veering off the point and getting involved into internal matters.

The Chairperson advised that the Committee Secretary needed to write to SASCOC. SASCOC needed to inform the Committee about the suspension of the horse-racing federation and the reasons for the suspension. The Committee must not undermine the role of SASCOC.

Mr Mackenzie endorsed the Chairperson’s position.

Mr Suka stated that it was a shame that the Committee did not know about the SASCOC suspension until today. If the Committee had known it could have taken the action to postpone the presentation until a later time and representation from the various stakeholders in horse-racing. The Committee had noted the points that ARG had raised and their progressive approach to what they want to do. He suggested that this meeting should be filed under an unofficial meeting. It was a pity that those who invited ARG to the Committee did not inform them of all the information before arriving before the Committee. He proposed that the Committee thank ARG for their presence and stated that the Committee could possibly interact with ARG in future.

Mr McGluwa stated the Committee had “burnt its fingers before” by engaging with individuals where it could not take an informed decision. It was unfortunate that the ARG representative did not know the reason for the SASCOC suspension. Rather than the Committee going on the offensive and asking SASCOC why it had suspended the Federation, if the ARG could have arrived with this information then the Committee could have engaged in informed decisions. He agreed with Mr Suka that this meeting should be filed under an unofficial meeting. The organisations themselves needed to contact the Committee and present the reason for suspension. Would this be the right procedure?

The Chairperson stated that although ARG was not affiliated with any other organizations, it was good to understand what was happening on the other side of horse racing and providing the committee with information that it did not have. He thanked Ms Kema for her presentation.

Ms Kema thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present before the Committee.

SA Sea and Sport Anglers Federation (SASSAF) submission
The Chairperson stated that there was a submission from the SASSAF

Mr Lee stated that he did not want people just to run to the Committee, because there was a structure that was supposed to handle these matters. Their main gripe was that SASSAF wrote letters to SASCOC and SASCOC never responded. He proposed that the Committee refer the matter back to SASCOC with a one pager that recommended that SASCOC and SASSAF must have a meeting to resolve this matter between themselves.

The Chairperson asked if any Member seconded the proposal from Mr Lee.

Ms L Mjobo (ANC) seconded the proposal

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) asked if because SASCOC was an entity that the Committee performed oversight on, it was the Committee’s responsibility to pursue the reasons for suspension.

Mr Suka asked whether there was a section in Parliament that dealt with petitions, so that when they come to committees, the integrity of the petitions had been scrutinised.

The Chairperson stated that it was clear that this submission was referred to SASCOC with a pager saying that SASCOC should deal with this matter and keep the Committee informed. A letter would be sent to the Speaker to inform him about the decision that this matter had been referred to SASCOC and the petition was referred to the Speaker as the Committee was through with it.

Mr Suka asked what timeframe the Committee would give SASCOC to respond.

The Chairperson said that he would be in touch with SASCOC and determine a timeline. He added that this pattern of individuals “jumping their mother bodies” and contacting the Committee directly, was wrong. Individuals needed to register their complaints directly with their mother bodies.

Ms Mjobo asked where people should log their complaints against SASCOC. SASCOC was in a “dicey situation” of being both a referee and a player at the same time.

Mr Suka stated that the ultimate custodian of sport and recreation was the Department. If the Department was unable to resolve an issue, then the Committee could facilitate the process and give them a hearing.

Mr Lee agreed with Mr Suka and stated that a copy of submission sent to SASCOC needed to be sent to the Department as well. In that way the Committee can make sure that athletes were not victimised.

Miscellaneous Matters
Mr MacKenzie raised concerns from a parent of the under-20 water polo player, who competed in the World Championships in Greece that not one flight was paid for by Swimming South Africa. The parents of 12 of the boys had to raise money for the 13th boy. In addition to that, they had to pay in excess of R3000 each over the normal airfares, which were assumed to cover travel coasts for the coach and the manager. Something was seriously wrong if they were wearing South African colours. There were only two players of colour, from privileged private schools. This went back to the heart of the problem of facilities and opportunities for youngsters, which was not happening. If the Committee felt that it was worthwhile, Swimming South Africa should be invited to explain themselves.

He also added that the Minister had asked repeatedly for Cricket South Africa to come clean with its audit findings and to be transparent. He asked where the Committee fitted in this matter, because it was bringing sport in the country down.

The Chairperson stated that he had received a call asking for a comment on the issue of the Springbok jerseys, which were manufactured abroad. In 2008 there was an agreement that jerseys would not be manufactured internationally; however this year’s jersey were made in France. The Chairperson stated that he issue a statement announcing that the Committee’s position was to support buying local. There were important implications on job creation. This matter needed to be referred to South African Rugby Union (SARU).

Mr McGluwa agreed and stated that it was upsetting that after 17 years, the textile industry had been deprived. Was the Committee going to call SARU back here, as they also “betrayed us with the national anthem?” The Committee along with the Department of Education must educate the Nation to start singing the Anthem. He asked who could supply local jerseys? He stated that”if we as South Africans talk local, we must act local.” SARU needed to explain themselves to the Committee and to the whole country. The National Soccer team had supported and empowered local people.

Mr Lee stated that he did not differ with some of the sentiments expressed but on certain matters, parties must be allowed to make their own decisions

Mr Suka stated that on the water polo issue raised by Mr Mackenzie, the Chairperson needed to be provided with a document containing the relevant facts. There was a policy in department that said once you have reached a certain level either the Provincial or National Department would be responsible. The Chairperson and the Committee needed those facts so that the relevant parties were called; the Committee would be armed with all the facts. The Committee needed a progress report on Cricket South Africa. It was a pity that these issues were not raised before; they should be flagged for future discussion.

Mr Lee stated that it was a good idea that the Committee involved the Department in the fight between the CEO of Cricket and the President of Cricket South Africa. The Committee needed to stay out of this fight and the Department should inform the Committee of the progress, because the Minister had appealed to the parties to resolve their differences.

The Chairperson recalled that the Minister had said that matter with Cricket South Africa was far from being closed. Let the Committee allow the Minister to deal with the matter and then get a report for him.

Mr McGluwa asked what happened to the Love Life presentation on the agenda.

The Chairperson replied that the Committee had been trying to get documents from Love Life. The Chairperson made it clear to Love Live not to come to the Committee unless the documents had been received at least a week ahead of time, because the Committee members needed sufficient time to review the information in advance. The documents had not arrived by Friday, so they were instructed not to come.

The Chairperson closed the meeting.



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