Department of Sport and Recreation 2012 Strategic Plan: briefing with Minister

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

05 June 2012
Chairperson: Ms M W Makgate (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department presented its strategic plan for 2012 to 2016 and the budget for the 2012/13 financial year. The plan listed six goals for achievement: to ensure that citizens had access to sport and recreation activities, that the sport and recreation sector was transformed, that athletes achieved international success, that there was an integrated system of enablers supporting the delivery of sport and recreation, the use of sport as a tool to support relevant Government priorities, and to achieve an efficient and effective Department.

The Department would use the conditional grant as a precondition for funding and federations that failed to comply would receive the smallest funding from the Department, while the ones that showed transformation and development in their programmes would be given priority.

Throughout the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, sport and recreation would continue to be supported, and the mass participation grant would be used to support school sport and the development of clubs, hubs and sport federations. Funding was biased towards school sport and rural initiatives, and the Department was inviting federations and provinces to indicate their rural initiative strategies.
Expenditure had decreased from R4,9bn in 2008/09 to R820.9m in 2011/12, at an average annual rate of 44,9%, due to the completion of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums in 2010/11.  Expenditure was projected to increase to R967,6m over the medium term, at an average annual rate of 5,8%, mainly due to inflationary increases, transfers to sport federations and the mass participation sport development grant.
The Minister drew attention to the establishment of a sub-committee that was reviewing the idea of nation-building through sports camps, focusing on the role of young people and their need to become more conscious of their country. There was a question of the flag [patriotism] without indoctrination and the need to build bridges of cross-cultural communication through racial interaction at camps.  The concept was to roll out a programme which informed young people of their rights and responsibilities. Young people needed to understand where the nation was heading, while gaining insight into concepts of patriotism. Society was dealing with the problem of disengaged youth, particularly among girls, which would require a critical investment to help break the cycle of poverty.
Issues discussed by Members and the delegation included the need to stage national events at venues in less developed provinces, how to motivate teachers to engage in school sports activities, curbing drug abuse by young sportsmen and women, and improving the quality of sports equipment supplied to schools.

Meeting report

Briefing on the Strategic Plan for 2012/13
Mr Alec Moemi, Director-General of the Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR), said the Department’s strategic plans were issued for three-year cycles, and the current work represented what would happen in 2012/13.  All other short-term interventions had been resource intensive, and had not yielded strong results. One of the biggest challenges and impediments to South African sport today was access. It was important to highlight the weaknesses in the system in order to reengineer sport in South Africa.  Another key issue was that of prioritisation -- what needed to be done first, in terms of implementation.  Changing the system from previously entrenched practices was proving to be difficult. Fundamental to this reform process, post-Sport Indaba, was a restructuring of the Department.

He admitted that after all the years of democracy and the investment of millions of rands, the Department had nothing to really show for this investment in terms of South African sports clubs.  Not a single club could claim that as a result of the Department’s contribution, they had progressed.  As a result, the Department aimed to reengineer the entire club system.

The Department’s flagship programme was school sports, which would be improved by increasing competitiveness, and participation at the school level.

In terms of the international relations programme, it had been largely reactive in nature.  The Department was starting with a shopping list. The needs of the country, as well as what was lacking, .were well understood.   While the country had very good high performance coaches, this was not the case with developmental coaches.  As a result, the Department would be shopping for developmental coaches in other countries with a rich tradition, such as Cuba.  Other possible partners would be those working within multilateral institutions and with South Africa’s international partners.  The Department had also reached an agreement with the British Council to fund work in this regard.

The Department had made multiple visits to the provinces to explore sports facilities but overall, the Department had little say in the matter of facilities, as most sports infrastructure was owned by local municipalities. Since 1994, the Department had been largely unable to roll out high quality infrastructure, with the exception of the 2010 World Cup stadiums.

Mr Moemi said that with the current lack of resources available, the Department would not be able to implement all restructuring programmes and infrastructure projects within the current financial year.  He noted that in any system, when one implemented new and untested policies and the political leadership demanded a roll-out on a massive scale, there would be many unexpected problems arising out of the reform and expansion process.  Currently 50% of the Department’s budget was allocated to the provinces, 25% to federations, and 25% remained for the Department’s use.  National Treasury was considering the addition of another R980m for the roll-out of new infrastructure.
In the past, the Department had allowed the provinces to do with funding as they saw fit.  Sometimes this practice had resulted in large tournaments for roughly 200 schools where they would provide support and funding for equipment, which would be spent very quickly -- and then their funding would be finished for the year. The Department now wanted to impose more serious accountability and controls for the provinces by tightening the conditions on providing grants.  Some provinces were in support, while others were very unhappy.  Gauteng and Free State, in particular, were resistant to the new formula. Consequently the NT had said that if by May 1 a province had not signed, all funding for the coming year would be cancelled. The Department would then send out officials to aid the provinces in spending their grants correctly and ensure uniformity.

Moving on to federations, the DG emphasised that there was a thin line between intervention and interference when the federations asked the Department for help.  All over the world, governments were finding it difficult to deal with federations, and for this reason the Department had decided to amend the South African Sports Act to give the Department more effective means to deal with the issue.  Part of these measures would be the new grant framework which was nearing publication.  Previously, business plans had been taken from federations, but these had later gone largely unmonitored after the granting of funds. The Department had thus split the framework into a two-tiered document, where tier two made funding conditional to allow for better Departmental control and regulation of federations.

It had been discovered that the majority of clubs remained informal and some did not have even a constitution, especially in the townships, where different measures were being considered to prevent township teams from having to close down.  Federations would be tasked with identifying the clubs and training them to run their affairs professionally - the greater the number of disadvantaged clubs mentored by a federation, the more they received.  It was also mentioned that if a club registered 20 members or more, it was free to join the federation. This meant no revenue collection, but was seen as hugely positive for sports participation. In order to rework federations such as netball, positive coercion would be used to put a lot of political pressure on them to turn them around.
The federations needed the Department for sponsorship and organisational requirements, but they would have to identify the costs involved if they wanted to host large international competitions.  The Department had stated without reservation that it was not sensible to invest millions of rand if federations were not performing to a suitable level. Furthermore one of the Minister’s greatest powers was the power to deregister a federation. Currently the power existed more on paper than in practice, but it could be used at some point to reinforce the will of the Department to bring about the reform of a federation.

The strategic plan aimed to achieve six goals: to ensure that citizens had access sport and recreation activities, a transformed sport and recreation sector, that athletes achieved international success, an integrated system of enablers supporting the delivery of sport and recreation, to use sport as a tool to support relevant Government priorities and to achieve an efficient and effective SRSA.

Further focus would also be on the National Sports Volunteer Corps that the Minister had introduced in February 2012 - a programme aimed at engaging former sports legends and talented community members to assist in developing sport. A registration process for all volunteers was under way, and by July the volunteers would be in schools and in different clubs to assist in developing the sport. Volunteers who had been used for campaigns such as the 2010 World Cup and All Africa Games (AAG) would be integrated and considered for use at the impending African Cup of Nations (AFCON) Games in 2013.

Looking at a new nationally and locally-driven programme around recreation, one of the key initiatives was to create open air gyms, since indoor community gyms had not worked as well as had been hoped. Indoor gyms required a lot of infrastructure and space and a model outdoor gym had begun in Soweto and was functioning well. This initiative was also working well in Brazil and China, and the project provided the type of uniformity the Department would like to see at a local level. There was also a movement to pick up on international health-related events. He said the Department had a new programme with Virgin Active Gyms that would see open days for poor people, and Virgin was looking at donating second-hand equipment to outdoor gyms.

Mr Moemi said that school sports programmes were a good base from which to encourage children to participate actively. He noted that programmes at independent and Model C schools were going well, but less so at township schools. He expressed a desire that all 27 000 schools should one day be involved. With the so-called “big five” sports of cricket, rugby, netball, athletics, and football, over 10 000 schools were already registered for the school sports league, but in some of the more dysfunctional schools, sports governing bodies were not as effective as the Department wanted them to be.

SRSA was using the conditional grant in mass participation programmes as the key tool to ensure that provinces adhered to regulations, and had laid down expectations.  Additional ways of monitoring the provincial grant were being considered, and the Department had established a focused task team to manage and monitor the process, as well as to provide support to provinces that were struggling with spending their allocations. The Mass Participation Programme would ensure the creation of jobs. Provinces were allowed to use 6% of their allocated funds from the conditional grant to employ officials to assist in the management of the grant and the implementation of the Mass Participation Programme at a grass roots level.
The Department submitted reports to Parliament outlining job creation proposals annually.

Budget Briefing
The Department would continue throughout the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period to promote sport and recreation and the mass participation grant would be used to develop sport at various levels by supporting school sport, club development, hubs and sport federations.  Funding was biased towards school sport and rural initiatives and the Department was inviting federations and provinces to indicate their rural initiative strategies.

The spending focus over the MTEF period would be on the ongoing promotion of mass participation in sport and recreation. The mass participation and sport development grant would increase participation in various sporting codes by supporting school sport, club development and hubs.

Expenditure had decreased from R4,9bn in 2008/09 to R820.9m in 2011/12, at an average annual rate of 44,9%, due to the completion of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums in 2010/11.  Expenditure was projected to increase to R967.6m over the medium term, at an average annual rate of 5,8%, mainly due to inflationary increases, transfers to sport federations and the mass participation sport development grant.  Sports support services saw a huge jump to R187m, which represented new expansion in terms of supporting federations.  International liaison and events were down from R40m to R13m, as the Department was attempting to do more with less and had emphasised a much more focused approach.  
An overview of the numbers over the entire MTEF indicated that the Department was not growing, as it was reducing capital expenditure until next year, since asset management policies were now on a direct line. Overall there was a 45% decline.  In terms of funding for the provinces, the DG expressed a desire to take from the rich Gauteng and KZN  provinces and redirect funding to the poor Northern Cape, where schools were far apart, making it  a very costly exercise for schools there to play in tournaments.
The Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Fikile Mbalula, stated that the Department was very much on track, despite the fact that until November of last year there had been no Director-General.  He emphasised that the Department was attempting to shape up with regard to the national sports plan, which would bring clear direction over the next 20 years on a range of issues which were inter-related.

There would be a lot of adjustment on sports and job creation projects. The central part of the strategic plan was to build support for sports, which had frequently been relegated to the periphery, yet was one of the biggest contributors to nation building.  He said that Cabinet had adopted the national plan enthusiastically.

In reference to the National Lotto Fund and its contributions, he remarked that assisting NGOs was part and parcel of this work. He mentioned the creation of a group of eminent persons - former high level athletes and the like - who would aid with the building of support for sport. He indicated that federations must be bound to the new framework agreement if reforms were to see real success.

He detailed the establishment of a sub-committee that was reviewing the idea of nation-building through sports camps, focusing on the role of young people and their need to become more conscious of their country. There was a question of the flag [patriotism] without indoctrination and the need to build bridges of cross-cultural communication through racial interaction at camps. He said that idle minds brought evil works and thus the idea of these camps was meant to engulf the nation.

He referred to the ‘Win hearts and minds’ programme rolled out by the apartheid regime in the 80s, when the Eagles Club had blocked the process of youth development.   Now the concept was to roll out a programme which informed young people of their rights and responsibilities. Young people needed to understand where the nation was heading, while gaining insight into concepts of patriotism.
He concluded by saying that both in and out of school, society was dealing with the problem of disengaged youth, particularly among girls, which would require a critical investment to help break the cycle of poverty.

Ms D Rantho (ANC, Eastern Cape) said that the Minister had spoken about investment in women, but that the Department’s delegation featured only a single female and she wondered if her contribution was respected and included. She also wanted to implement guidelines on how to elect or work with provincial legends and other sports representatives. She expressed concern with indoor sports facilities, especially under-utilised facilities in Eastern Cape, despite high numbers of artists and athletes in the area. The question of local committees needed more focus. The South African Youth Olympics to be held in December 2012 which would take place in Gauteng, highlighted the fact that there was a need to hold major events in other, less developed provinces and not only in areas of high development, like Gauteng.

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) said there was a need for enforcement of participation in sport to encourage those children who were not necessarily book smart but could excel at athletics. She asked why the Department outsourced the buying of local sports equipment.  In both documents there was mention of sports facilities, but there did not seem to be an integrated plan of where to build new facilities. This led to the question of interaction with the Department of Human Settlements, as this was a problem not only in rural areas, but also in the townships.

Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) stated that children and students faced problems of access to sporting facilities and asked if there were there any mechanisms in place to rectify this situation.

Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga) thanked the Director-General for his presentation.  She then mentioned that most teachers in rural areas were currently above the ages of 40 or 50 and no new teachers were coming into schools. As a result, from her personal experience in rural areas, children did not have an interest in sports and she wondered how it would be possible for the Department to enable teachers to teach physical education. Her opinion on the balance between sport and education was that if sport was not made compulsory, participation would be low.

Mr M de Villiers (DA, Western Cape) said that in his youth it was a status symbol to be a teacher and he said that acceptance of teachers needed to be brought back into the system.  In respect to the Department’s strategic plan, he noted that recreation was not addressed beyond a very basic level.  He questioned the timelines of the Department’s allocation of monies to the provinces and wanted to know how teachers would be turned into coaches and how they would be compensated in this regard.  The success of development lay within the school. The season in which the teacher was taken out of school to be trained as a coach was very important, as it also influenced the application of education.
Mr De Villiers also wondered what compensation would be available for coaches. In his understanding, there was a split mandate between the Department of Sport and the Department of Basic Education, and he questioned if there was oversight and cooperation between the two departments. He emphasised budget cuts, saying that when cuts were made annually, it deeply affected students and there was a need to pursue the matter with National Treasury.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) asked if the Department wanted to take over control of school sport from the Department of Basic Education.  He then expressed strong feelings about the use of drugs at schools and asked that the matter be investigated.  There was a need for specialised sports trainers to in order to bring up top level athletes properly. He ended by bringing up the issue of a young kick boxer in Northern Cape who was in need of funds to be able to participate in international competitions as he was disadvantaged financially and wondered what the Department could do to remedy this situation and other similar ones.

Mr S Plaatjie (COPE, North West) inquired about boxing in South Africa, saying there was an ‘absolute lull’ in people getting into boxing after the high levels of success in the past.

The Chairperson said that Members should show deference to the Minister and in light of the fact that the meeting had already been postponed twice, they should conduct their questions and comments in a matter more conducive to debate.

Mr Moemi, responding to the Members’ questions, said that the Department had looked at different club systems around the world and was hopeful that they would start piloting the new club system in the latter half of the year.

On the question of outsourcing spending on sports equipment, he said it was illegal to receive monies from the National Lotto Fund, so the Department was engaging with many of the top 100 corporations in South Africa and getting commitments from them to fund school sports. As part of support to clubs through the conditional grants, clubs had complained that they were not receiving good quality equipment via a process of certification. The common thread that was emerging was that the equipment was of inferior quality, so the Department had decided that all provinces would have to procure equipment from one centralised database. This measure would hopefully eliminate over-spending and create uniform prices, ensuring that the provinces got the best value for their money. The Department was adamant that quality equipment must be procured and targets met. Officials would be sent to the Free State to ensure even spending of conditional grants, since they had shown reluctance to conform to the new grant structure.

A facilities audit was being conducted by the Department and it had been confirmed that there was engagement with the Department of Human Settlements to ensure that proper zoning laws were enforced in township areas.

The DG stated that the delegation’s composition was a gross misrepresentation, as there were in fact a higher number of women within the Department, which had 96 female and 73 male employees.

Some municipalities had norms and standards and therefore there were large challenges in attempting to establish what and where to build new sports infrastructure. This was a key issue that National Norms and Standards needed to address. He said that delivering a facility was relatively easy, but maintaining the facility was very difficult for some of the smaller municipalities, due to budget constraints.
In response to the query on selection of Gauteng as the venue for the Youth Olympics, he stated it was simply chosen because of accessibility and lower costs associated with a larger population base.

The Department was not avoiding compulsory sports within schools, but was in fact lamenting the fact that sports were not compulsory.  First there was a need to amend the South African Schools Act and Children’s Act with regard to parental consent for children wishing to participate. He said that currently, while 20% of time must be spent in sports within life orientation, in some schools teachers would not go to a dusty sports field with shiny shoes, and this was an example of a lack of dedication to sport. Secondly, during the wetter winter months, some teachers would do art classes as opposed to assisting with sport. This was an issue on which the Department was engaged with the Department of Basic Education. More support would be given to active teachers.

The Department of Home Affairs was piloting new biometric ID cards, so that all children being born now would have an ID number so they could be traced. This would influence how the Department looked at following students who used drugs and competed in sports events, as this would prevent them from registering under another student’s ID.

On the issue of paying for sports where the wealthier schools - Model C and independent schools - could afford to pay for participation, he said the Department would attempt to integrate payment systems for wealthy and poorer schools only after it had been convinced it was working well after year three or four of the current strategic plan. Currently there was a R250 sports levy for parents who could afford to pay for their children, otherwise the fee was waived. However the league was open to all children who wanted to play, so that was why the Department was attempting to provide money within the conditional grant framework for transportation and registering in competitions.

In response to Mr De Villiers, he said the Department had not stopped its recreation efforts, having looked at different recreation models, and for the first time there was a dedicated budget.  The Department was also supporting international sports-related days and coordinated initiatives with the European Union and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, on Youth Development through the Sport Initiative.

He noted that 53 schools were regional support schools, which meant they were blessed with facilities and had a rich sporting tradition. When they shared their facilities with poorer schools, there was the question of who should pick up the cost of continuing to maintain facilities, so the Department would pay schools to ensure their maintenance budgets could carry the burden of increased usage.

Only 27 schools produced 90% of high level rugby players, for example, and these “specialisation” schools were something that they were trying to spread to all provinces with Departmental funding. Sports scouts would be out identifying the best new athletes and sending them to these specialised schools. In this regard, the Minister would be announcing a sports bursary from February 2013. He emphasised that the Department would ensure and identify school talent by working with federations, setting aside at least 5% of budgets to provinces to support school specific codes that enhanced coaching structures.

Responding to the Member’s question on the issue of balancing time in class versus time playing sport, Mr Moemi said that sport was only meant to be played over weekends or after school, as the Department never sought to interfere with education. Likewise, the Youth Olympics would be played in December over school holidays.

Responding to Mr De Villiers, he believed that to bring back prestige to teachers, it was necessary to make it worthwhile for the winning schools by providing support for new sports fields or new equipment, or incentives such as prize money or a computer centre for a school.

He acknowledged it was difficult to prevent government cuts as it was problematic to make people understand the importance of sport, but the Department was confident that with the new strategic plan and with the work of the Committee, further cuts could be prevented.  He gave the example of the United Kingdom, where school parents took action against budget cuts for their children’s sports. In South Africa it was noted that there were many strikes against service provision but as yet there were no strikes against budget cuts at SRSA.  He observed that there needed to be a shift in thinking.

He said that sports science degrees would be required for new coaches and amendments to legislation for doping would allow for the screening of children who were using drugs. With regard to athletic sponsorship, he noted that SASCOC had responsibility at the national level once athletes represented the country.

The DG agreed that boxing in South Africa was not doing well and the budget was dropping, yet current attempts to garner television rights could provide the capital that was needed to revitalize the sport. The Department had deployed one full-time manager to deal with boxing in South Africa.
In light of the need by Members to attend an afternoon plenary session, the Chairwoman thanked the Minister for his presence and the DG for his presentation and adjourned the meeting.


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