Minister of Sport & Recreation-briefing on FIFA investigation into match fixing; Athletics SA: Turnaround strategy, governance and development plan

Sports, Arts and Culture

02 September 2014
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by the Minister of Sport and Recreation regarding the FIFA investigation into match fixing and the Athletics South Africa (ASA) federation. He outlined that two years ago, the Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA) had been informed by South Africa Football Association (SAFA) of match-fixing challenges for soccer in the country. SRSA had met with the entire SAFA executive to formulate a way to deal with the issues. SAFA had initially decided to suspend all those implicated, but later, SAFA had withdrawn those suspensions on the basis that SRSA, with the agreement of SAFA, would take the necessary steps to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into match fixing. Prior to that, however, it became apparent that SRSA needed to meet with the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). SRSA, together with SAFA and the Minister, had travelled to Zurich to attend a meeting with FIFA’s General Secretary, Mr Valcke, and that meeting concluded that SRSA and the Minister should proceed to ask the President of SA to set up a judicial inquiry within South Africa. After that had been done, however, FIFA informed the President that FIFA was in fact intending to establish its own Commission of Inquiry, and had the South African commission proceeded, this would have resulted in the suspension of SAFA on the grounds of interference in the FIFA processes. The decision was taken that it would make sense for SRSA and SAFA to await the outcomes of the FIFA inquiry before deciding whether any further action was needed. That inquiry was currently ongoing. Members accepted the reasoning presented, but asked how far the FIFA inquiry had proceeded, and whether it was apposite for Parliament to request input from FIFA, and the Minister then stated that whilst it might cause some political problems for Parliament to intervene directly, rather than the Minister making the enquiries and conveying the response to Parliament, he conceded that it was right that the matter be followed up and undertook to do so, with SRSA.

Athletics South Africa (ASA) briefed the Committee on its current structure, governance, mandate, turnaround strategy and athletes’ development plan, in a very detailed presentation that covered a lot of ground. ASA was a member of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). It managed all the athletics activities in the country and was structured into a regional model that attempted to cover a number of districts across the provinces. It focused on developing and ensuring participation of previously disadvantaged communities in athletics, and prepared them for participation in international tournaments. A number of bodies were allied to ASA including disabled athlete organisations. Some of the recent achievements of athletes in recent championships were outlined, and it was noted that although, for the Commonwealth Games, ASA had struggled to put together a team who had qualified, a number of medals were achieved. The achievements in the youth games were also outlined. It was pointed out that all medals could be seen as a particularly significant accolade, given that athletes in South Africa tended to be coached mostly by school teachers who only attended to coaching on a part-time basis, and given their tremendously difficult circumstances that many faced in getting sufficient sponsorship and opportunities.

ASA described its turnaround since the time when there had been concerns with the board, financial status and governance, pointing out that now there was a new board that was much stricter in complying with good governance principles, and fully committed to accountability. Due diligence was being done, but some issues would take a little more time to fix. The financial assets were being used strictly in line with the Public Finance Management Act, necessary committees had been established, and challenges in Eastern Cape were being addressed. Draft financial statements were tabled. The business plan was also detailed to the Committee, noting that junior champions faced particular difficulties in getting to meetings, with translation of manuals. It emphasised that it was not seeking world-class facilities that other federations required but appealed to the Committee to ensure that all areas should be provided, by SALGA and local governments, with a grass, cinder or clay track to develop athletics in schools, particularly in the rural areas. It appealed for whatever assistance the Committee could give it in getting funding.   

Members commented that this had been an emotional presentation. Several echoed concerns that funding intended for sports development at local government level was not being properly used. Members asked what programmes were planned for athletes in the time between the Commonwealth Games and the next Olympics, and asked also how far the process was of aligning ASA core programmes with SASCOC’s long term plans framework. They emphasised that transformation in sport would only be seen when athletes came from the rural areas, and asked how the youth identified would be able to continue training. Members asked for more explanation on some of the figures in the financial statements for the 2011 and 2012 financial year, and particularly the loans outstanding from former officials at ASA. They wanted more details on talent identification, whether gold medallists had been paid, and questioned the risk of the same infrastructure challenges arising again.  ASA stressed that strong oversight by this Committee would go far in avoiding a recurrence of the issues in the past. They asked for an update on Caster Semenya.

Finally, Members adopted minutes of previous meetings, heard a brief update on the steps that South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) were taking to try to get athlete Mr Luvo Manyonga to rehabilitation so that he would be able to resume competitive sport, noted the health of a SA Netball player and noted invitations extended to the Committee, and arrangements for future Committee briefings.

Meeting report

FIFA investigation into match fixing: Minister of Sport and Recreation briefing
Mr Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Sport and Recreation, said that that two years ago the Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA) had been informed by South African Football Association (SAFA) that soccer in the country had match fixing challenges. SRSA had then met with the entire SAFA executive to get proper updates and formulate a possible way forward. SAFA had initially decided to suspend all those alleged and implicated in match fixing and those suspended had included the then-SAFA President, Mr Kirsten Nematandane and other SAFA officials. After meeting with that executive, SAFA agreed with SRSA on the need to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into match fixing. Prior to that, it became apparent that SRSA needed to meet with the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), and it had then met with the General Secretary (GS) of FIFA, Mr Jerome Valcke and other security officials, who concluded with an agreement to go ahead with the inquiry in SA as planned. The South African delegation then approached the President, through the Minister, with suggested terms of reference for the establishment of that commission. FIFA wrote to the President via SAFA that FIFA was then ready to establish its own commission of inquiry, to be led by an American advocate, and it was conclude that FIFA should first conclude such an inquiry, then the President would decide whether South Africa needed, after that, to proceed with another inquiry. The FIFA inquiry was currently ongoing and FIFA simply had to update the SA Government on further developments.

Mr D Bergman (DA) said that the Minister seemed to be quite upbeat about getting that issue sorted, but it seemed that somewhere between the Minister and the President there was a hiccup, for whilst he understood the rationale behind FIFA first investigating, the fact remained that two years later, there were still suspended officials, and the Committee needed to understand whether the Minister and President were in favour of getting the corruption investigation concluded as fast as possible, and what the country was doing to show the rest of the world that it was fighting that corruption to the best of its ability.

Mr S Malatsi (DA) said that SRSA appeared to believe that all that needed to be done up to this stage had been done. However, it seemed that despite the commitment made by SAFA, FIFA and SRSA to getting a local commission of inquiry set up, either there seemed to have been a change of heart, of FIFA had backtracked on its initial commitment with SRSA and SAFA. He wondered if the commitment to appoint an inquiry at that joint meeting with SAFA was preceded by a consultation with the Presidency, and asked also if the fact that the SA government was not proceeding had resulted in a delayed response and conclusion to the investigation into match fixing. He also asked whether, to the present time, FIFA had corresponded on the current status of its investigations, since SAFA had complained to the Committee that FIFA had not updated SAFA on the progress made since April 2014.

Mr M Mabika (NFP) congratulated SAFA for appointing Mr Shakes Mashaba as Bafana head coach. He enquired whether the match fixing allegations were still as serious as when they were first made, since there no longer appeared to be any urgency about concluding the inquiry.

Mr P Moteka (EFF) said that South Africa was concerned with how long SAFA would be running whilst a cloud of corruption was hanging over it, and asked whether the Committee could offer any assistance to conclude the inquiry speedily.

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) said that one of the reasons the Minister had been invited was so that he could brief the Committee whether it was possible for this Committee to summons FIFA to appear. From his own experiences with FIFA during the World Cup draw, he had found FIFA to be self-governing and caring little about queries from any other quarter, be it state or private. The Minister was witness to the Brazilian legislators having come to South Africa to ask how SA had dealt with FIFA, given the challenges that Brazil was also experiencing. SA had told Brazil that FIFA was a law unto itself.

Mr Mmusi asked what had happened to the people who had been suspended by SAFA on allegations and implications in match fixing, and, commenting on the fact that normally commissions of inquiry had timelines, asked whether FIFA had indicated when it intended its inquiry to be concluded.

Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) said that he appreciated the Committee’s zeal to assist the Minister in fighting corruption, but it needed to commit to doing that across all federations. He also was glad that the State had decided to wait for FIFA instead of running its own parallel inquiry, and he believed the Committee needed to take the direction of the Government in that matter, and to not jump the gun.

The Chairperson was thankful to the Minister for being present to answer questions seeking clarity, and also emphasised the need for timeframes for the inquiry. If FIFA would not be coming to account to the Committee, it at least had to update SRSA or SAFA so that the Committee could also be informed and the matter concluded.

Minister Mbalula replied that the inquiry was with FIFA to conclude, and only after that conclusion could the Government determine whether or not to go ahead with establishing its own inquiry. He noted that, despite the SA Sports Act, federations were internationally affiliated bodies, meaning that they were “mega independent”. When federations needed money they would call upon SRSA and government, but if the government decided to investigate the federations this was termed as “interference”. The Minister was glad to see that the Committee was zealous in addressing corruption and maladministration. He asserted, however, that he was quite sure that the Committee would be faced with a dead end when it tried to investigate the federations, on the basis that they would claim independence. FIFA could not be summoned to Parliament, but would only attend if it chose, from goodwill.

The Minister said that initially he had been told that if he pursued the match fixing issue he would be risking the suspension of SAFA, with all its stakeholders, from international football, and this was indeed true if the federation saw this as “government interference”. In Zurich, SRSA had agreed with FIFA, and this was confirmed in writing, that the SA Government should in fact set up its own Commission of Inquiry, but on returning, the Minister approached the President, seeing that the Minister was only empowered to set up an ordinary inquiry, but not a judicial inquiry. Whilst the President was still considering the Minister’s request, FIFA wrote to the President and Minister informing them that FIFA was now ready to set-up its own  commission of enquiry; he did not know exactly when it had changed its mind. Given the FIFA inquiry, and in order to avoid suspension as mentioned earlier, government decided to await the outcome of the FIFA inquiry before proceeding further.

The Minister said that there were no timeframes attached for that inquiry, as it was an open ended investigation. The President had informed FIFA that FIFA could go ahead with its inquiry but that South Africa reserved its right to undertake further investigations, upon the completion of FIFAs inquiry. This did not amount to reneging on any agreement; it must be remembered that government was constrained by the processes, role and powers of FIFA when it came to SAFA. SRSA had emphasised the spirit of fighting corruption and concluding the inquiry so that soccer could be cleansed of allegations of match fixing.

The person implicated as the ring leader in match fixing globally, Mr Perumal, was serving time in Budapest, Hungary. The FIFA investigators who implicated SA in these match fixing activities had all resigned from FIFA. FIFA was investigating match fixing globally.

He suggested that indeed SRSA needed to go back to FIFA to impress upon it that it did not augur well for South Africa, as a democratic state, to have a cloud of match fixing hanging over its head, and asking that FIFA must update the country. However, he conceded that the Minister had also not followed up on that and it was important for SRSA to do that, given that the elections were now passed.

He confirmed that FIFA’s conclusion would also decide the position one way or the other for the individuals who had been implicated and who were still under a cloud because of the delays. If South Africa had been given the option to proceed with its own inquiry, it would no doubt have managed to conclude it already. He would not liken this match fixing matter to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, which had been drawn-out, because even that had timeframes. He made a commitment to follow up now with FIFA. He confirmed that the match fixing allegations were still very serious. The Committee had already started to assist by calling the Minister to account, and putting this item at the forefront of the agenda, thus conveying the message to SA and SRSA that it was a matter to be pursued.

The Minister did not know of the content of the discussions with SAFA, but he reminded Members that these were the very people that the Committee must deal with sternly. The Minister and Mr Valcke had reached the point where they not on speaking terms, because the Minister had told Mr Valke that he could not simply move in and out of the country and want to tell this Government what to do.

The Minister said he could only encourage the Committee to not let go of that issue, confirmed again that he would play his part and check with SAFA on any follow up it may have had with FIFA, and urged everyone to continue putting pressure on FIFA to give it results, since this issue had a serious bearing on the country in terms of its image and integrity. The media also had not known what exactly the position was, probably raised similar questions to the Committee, and, given the loss of focus, the matter had to get back on track and SRSA had to report back to the Committee.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had directed its staff to find out what could be done to get a response from FIFA on the match fixing enquiry, and the staff had indicated that the Minister needed to be asked for input first. He noted that countries like France and Greece were amending their legislation to be able to deal with issues like match fixing, and this might also be something that South Africa had to consider to give SRSA more “teeth”, so that when the state needed information, there could no longer be any excuse of “independence” proffered as a blocking mechanism.

Mr Bergman said that the answers seemed slightly ambiguous – on the one hand, the Minister was supporting the Committee pushing on with demands for information, but on the other hand was saying that the investigation belonged to FIFA, and that the more the Committee tried to push it, the stronger the consequences would be for SAFA. Investigators from FIFA had raised the alarm, but somewhere down the line there was a perception that the Minister had back-tracked. He agreed with the Chairperson that the Committee perhaps needed to push for legislation that would clean up the image of sport. The political will was there, but the country was effectively being handcuffed by the attitude of the federations globally. He had been fortunate to have visited Germany during the Germany Soccer World Cup preparations and agreed with the Minister that FIFA tended to come into a country, tell the government what it must help with, and leave the country to deal with any consequent pressures. No foreign federation should come and dictate to the country how to clean up its sport, and this applied equally to football and other federations.

Mr Malatsi asked for the Minister’s comment on whether, had South Africa mobilised first and established a Commission, that would have led to a stronger conclusion, particularly in view of the slow pace of FIFA’s investigation. He agreed that when big federations wanted to host events in certain countries, they were more receptive to Government assistance, but as soon as those Governments asked legitimate questions of good governance, bodies like FIFA claimed that this was interference. He wondered whether the Minister’s efforts, coupled with requests to FIFA from this Committee for an update, would be defeating the current process.

Mr Moteka said that in his understanding the individuals had been implicated and subsequently suspended not by FIFA, but by SAFA. Seeing that SAFA and the state were not pursuing their inquiry at the moment, he wanted to know of the status of their suspensions. He proposed that the Committee should extend an invitation to FIFA, and even if it declined, it would at least have been made aware that South Africa was exerting some pressure.

Mr Mmusi wanted to check with the Minister what would happen should FIFA respond immediately after hearing from the Committee, and how SRSA would then also respond.

Mr Ralegoma asked what impression the outside world would gain from the fact that the President had agreed that FIFA could first conclude its enquiry, but the Committee then attempted to summon FIFA. The Committee must ensure that, whatever route it took, it did not give the impression that the Minister was not responsible for sport in SA, and he wanted the Minister to confirm whether a summons to FIFA would be a viable proposition.  

Minister Mbalula said that the Committee should always keep in mind that FIFA was an international body, and whatever input was given to it by South Africa had to be reflective of unity, and of the country’s own structures  - a united stance had to be taken by Parliament, SRSA, and government. He was of the view, having engaged with Parliament, that SRSA needed to get answers from FIFA. He agreed that indeed Parliament needed to look at the legislation and the powers of the Minister globally, not just in relation to SAFA, and that should include issues such as how to advance transformation and sport development in the country.  Moreover Parliament had to deal with how it viewed the powers of SRSA against the role of the international bodies.

The Minister said that there was “malicious compliance” on the part of SAFA’s previous executive, in relation to the question of match fixing. The Minister could not understand where the letter had come from; he had met with FIFA together with Mr Nematandane, and had, on their return from Zurich, agreed on the approach together with the executive of SAFA. Later, however, a letter from Mr Valcke, who had later visited South Africa and told the media that the government would not be proceeding, had interrupted that process,  despite the fact that at the Zurich meeting there had been no suggestion of government “interfering” at that stage. There might have been fears that should a Commission be established in South Africa, its terms of reference might extend beyond match-fixing alone to investigate other issues in SAFA. That could be a reason why the matter had been “diplomatically aborted”. The Minister emphasised again that there had been an agreement between SRSA, FIFA and SAFA to undertake a judicial Commission of Inquiry in South Africa and it was not true that the President had reneged, but rather there had been recognition that if this proceeded after FIFA had changed its stance, this could lead to the suspension of SAFA by FIFA. SRSA had not asked FIFA how far it would go with the matter and how long would it would take for the enquiry to be concluded, but it would do so now. The Committee should not feel that it could not write to FIFA, it could do so but at this stage the matter was not totally out of control that the Committee desperately needed to intervene, and he thought that FIFA would simply respond with another letter. SRSA had challenges even with SAFA, and he suspected that SAFA probably did not want other issues to be raised either, and it was possible that issues of SAFA administration and match-fixing had been conflated in SAFA’s view, when in fact they were not.

The Minister reiterated that, from the beginning, SAFA had informed Government of its decision to suspend some members of its executive. The Minister subsequently met with SAFA, and SRSA and SAFA had agreed on the process of investigation, which meant that SAFA should withdraw its suspensions – and this had been done. Some ramifications around those suspensions stretched back as far as the SAFA conference, when match-fixing was raised in the context of the leadership contestation. After the SAFA elections, the administration issues that needed to be cleared had been dealt with. It was only the match fixing process that still remained. The Parliamentary Committee now needed more answers from FIFA to move forward. He commented that from a political standpoint, the fact that Parliament engaged with FIFA directly might suggest that government was no longer seen as controlling the issue, and that might not be the correct impression to convey to FIFA. He therefore advised that although the Committee could engage directly with FIFA, it would be preferable for SAFA and SRSA together to be given a chance to carry out the Committee’s mandate on match-fixing first, and if that failed, then the Committee could proceed to engage with FIFA directly.

The Minister added that this approach would not interfere with the President’s position, because the President’s mandate had related only to setting up a commission of inquiry, if needed, and the match-fixing allegations were to be pursued by SRSA and SAFA in the normal course.

The Minister stressed that he had not initially had any problem with SAFA, but that matters had been contested when there was talk of the inquiry being established, and simultaneously other issues around SAFA, such as the bankruptcy concerns raised by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), came out.  The elections were another matter. However, now that all this had been sorted out, the match fixing still remained, and future generations would be bound to ask what this administration had done about that.

The Minister said that SRSA had initially wanted a judicial commission of inquiry in South Africa to allow SRSA to subpoena people from overseas, as had been the case in the Dewani matter. It was not considered useful to establish commissions that would not have such powers.

The Minister felt that there was collusion, even though it felt like “a ghost” that could not be ascertained with any certainty. People had probably met, although nothing could be pinned on players, and he had that impression from the way that they interacted, which suggested prior meetings. Any connivance or collusion on the match fixing would be taken further by the Minister.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee needed to write formally to the Minister again, expressing the view that it wanted FIFA to come and report to the Minister, who would then report to Parliament. Another possible option was for this Committee to engage directly with FIFA through the Speaker of Parliament. The Committee would set certain timelines for the Minister to report back.

Mr Malatsi added that, in order to give impetus to the Committee’s process, the timelines for the Minister should also ask him to commit to a date by which he would communicate with FIFA, and whatever response came back from FIFA, the Committee would be able to check that the Minister had fulfilled the mandate given to him by this Committee, to enable its own internal processes to follow.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister for his presence and summarised the relationship between Members and the executive, and the progressive nature in the work of the Committee.

Briefing by Athletics South Africa (ASA) briefing
Mr Aleck Skhosana, President, Athletics South Africa, was pleased to have been invited to Parliament, especially since ASA had been in the news for some time, as a result of upheavals at this body. He reminded Members that at one point the challenges were so severe that ASA had to bring in intervention by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The new President with the new executive had called upon all the ASA members to “stop their war” and currently, there was calm, stability and progress at ASA, and even the country had performed and achieved both domestically and internationally.

Mr Skhosana said that he would speak to only some of the points in the more detailed presentation that had been handed out to the Members (see attached document for full details). By way of background, he indicated that ASA was a member of the IAAF and SASCOC. It managed all the athletics activities in the country. It was structured and demarcated into the ASA Demarcation Model (see document) with ASA membership in the nine provinces of SA. That went back to the years when SA still had a National Sports Council (NSC), where the demarcation of regions had been done to ensure that athletics reached every corner of SA. ASA had a constitution, which at one time had been contested publicly. ASA was focused on developing and ensuring participation of previously disadvantaged communities in athletics, and aimed to prepare athletes for participation in international tournaments. ASA had other responsibilities detailed further also in the document.

Establishment of its governance structure and athletics development plan
Mr Skhosana said that media reports some time ago reported that ASA had financial stability challenges, but since the new board had come in, it had put systems and structures in place to ensure that there was no repeat of what had happened previously. It was then the board’s responsibility to ensure that it adhered to those stability principles, because when there was war in sport or in the country, the resources were the first things to disappear. When that had happened at ASA, no one had been interested in looking for sponsorships and no one was interested in talking with SRSA and the National Lotteries Board (NLB).

ASA was lucky that since the new board had come in, it had been working so hard that now it was being approached by corporates interested in returning to giving sponsorship to athletics. That seemed to have been buoyed by the performance of SA athletes in Glasgow, Scotland. ASA would be announcing soon which would be the main sponsor of ASA. He appealed for the Committee to assist ASA in getting more athletics screened on television (TV), since broadcasting reached all corners of the country. ASA was to meet Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Chief Operations Officer of the South African Broadcasting Corporation to discuss that issue as well. This was important because, like other federations, part of ASA’s revenue was generated through broadcasting rights. The board had decided to remain with SABC as its lead broadcaster since SABC was a public broadcaster who covered most of SA’s citizens, and wanted to remain with it as long as SABC could also provide benefits for ASA so that it could drive its own programmes. SA had many new community TV and radio stations where a federation could showcase its events and sell its product. ASA would also be looking at what it could do in major towns where there were such stations, to reach larger audiences.

Athlete development
Mr Skhosana said that the cornerstone of ASA was that, in order for athletics to move forward in SA, it would adhere to three fundamentals. The first, unity, meant that one ASA would cater for everyone interested in athletics in SA. Secondly, it recognised that development was a continuous project and so ASA structures would adhere to developmental practices, giving opportunities both to adults and the youth by organising different programmes to meet the needs of the country or particular areas. Thirdly, ASA was at the front of transformation, particularly when compared to other federations, and it had a specific provision in its constitution to specify that senior teams coming to the national championships from provinces had to be made up of at least 40% black to 60% white athletes. The junior team constitution had to have a 50:50 representation, but at present they were 60% black and 40% white, as they had grown up from what teachers, coaches and clubs were doing in terms of athletics transformation. When ASA had sent athletes to the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Championships, it was attacked by the media for indicating the athletes’ demographics, but it had done so in line with its constitution, and the complaint seemed to be more along the lines that “black” was not used as a generic reference. He pointed out that if ASA did not monitor demographics then it could find itself excluding talented athletes. ASA would continue working with the Committee and SRSA in ensuring transformation.   

Mr Skhosana noted that during the 2014 meetings, the SA men’s athletics team finished fourth in the World Half Marathon Championships, where 212 countries competed. That accolade had only been achieved previously in 1997, when SA beat Ethiopia and Kenya. At the World Junior Championships in the United States of America (USA) the SA team reached the finals, even though there were no medals. For the Commonwealth Games, ASA really struggled in putting together a team as most of the athletes that it wanted to send had not qualified. However, of the 13 athletes that it did manage to send, three gold medals, five silver medals,  and one bronze medal were brought back, together with the national record in the 4x100 relay. All of this showed how ASA had revived and its refusal to accept any mediocrity both from its coaches and athletes, who were told that they should fly the national flag by reaching podium positions.

ASA had also selected 70 athletes to represent SA at the CAA championships, but unfortunately only managed to send 34. SA ranked fifth on the results here, and was ranked third on the 2010 results from the same competition. The country had last been first in Ethiopia, in 2008. South Africa claimed ten gold, five silver and four bronze medals at the 2014 CAA championships.13 of SA’s athletes had been selected at the CAA to represent the Continent of Africa at the Intercontinental Athletics Championships involving six continents with their best athletes. Moreover, one coach and the Deputy Chairperson of that mission had been selected from the SA team. At the Youth Olympic Games, ASA sent seven athletes and returned with one gold medal.

ASA was appealing to the Committee for assistance especially on the issue of finances. When  sending a team to a meeting, ASA would select its best athletes who would represent the country proudly, but at the same time the junior athletes needed exposure so that they could do well in meetings when their time came.  That plan had worked for ASA very well in the past. ASA was asking for assistance from the Committee with the funding that SRSA granted federations for development. He noted that corporates were only interested in elite performances first, before committing sponsorships.

Corporate governance issues
There had been concerns at ASA with policies and procedures, internal controls and the segregation of duties and the new board had deliberately ensured that it put issues to the administrators as expected, through cooperative governance. Mr Skhosana, as President of ASA, was elected to oversee ASA. He had acknowledged his limitations to his colleagues and assured the Committee that if ASA could abide by that segregation of duties and the Committee held it accountable, then very little could go wrong at ASA again. Currently, ASA was doing due diligence, but some of the issues that needed fixing would take time to turn around. To that extent ASA was using external consultants such as Deloitte and Touche, who had identified the type of risks ASA was facing, how it could mitigate against them and assessed for how long they were likely to persist.

Mr Skhosana said that he could not overemphasize that ASA used its financial assets in line with the prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), and to that end the organisation had sought expert assistance for its staff on how to comply with the PFMA.

ASA had already constituted a Finance Committee and a Human Resource Committee respectively, to look at restructuring and revitalisation of the organisation. Its Ethics Committee was assisting in keeping everyone in check. ASA had indicated at a press conference that it was paramount to have administrators with no knowledge of athletics, or interest in it, as the operations personnel, to ensure the proper management of the organisation. ASA was currently short-listing its audit and accounting personnel, as well as its legal team, most of which would be co-opted for extended periods, whilst others would be consulting on particular matters. ASA had continuously emphasised that accountability remained a very important principle across the board, and was not a management issue only.

Mr Skhosana said that ASA had quite a number of stakeholders, including the South African Schools Athletics (SASA), University Sports South Africa (USSA), the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), the various disabled sporting bodies and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). ASA was engaging with all those stakeholders so that any challenges could be addressed internally and speedily to avoid a media frenzy where ASA would be again be accused of in-fighting.

He noted that ASA did face some challenges, in the Eastern Cape in particular, which the President of ASA would be attending to in the near future to try to achieve some stability.

He indicated that he had brought along the draft financial statements, for 2012/13, although these were not signed due to the turmoil in ASA at the time. The 2013/14 draft financial statements were also going to be presented with those of 2012/13, on 27 September, to a Council meeting for signature, and could then be supplied to the Committee.  

ASA Development Department Business Plan (see document) presentation
Mr Skhosana then took the Committee through the business plan. He enumerated the locales where junior athletics champions were based, and the challenges they faced in getting to athletics meetings. Youths from the townships and rural areas were from the same constituencies as many of the MPs and thus he urged the Committee to assist ASA management when doing oversight of its structures and sites. The Committee had every right to raise concerns with ASA at any time, and should not leave matters over until ASA met formally with the Committee. He also appealed to Members to relay this message also to colleagues in the provincial legislatures. He noted that from the rural youth currently being supported there would be champions similar to Caster Semenya, Mbuleni Mulaudzi and Hezekiel Sepeng.  

Mr Skhosana said that administration was important for local  or village athletics clubs, to assist the youths from stages 1 to 3.

He said the coaching manuals and regulations manuals from IAAF were written in English, and even talented coaches in the country without much schooling may unfortunately misinterpret what was set out, and ASA still had not translated them to indigenous languages, which was why teachers were so important as part of the coaching backbone in athletics.

ASA had programmes that it was doing with the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority (Cathsseta) where administration of sport experience was being gained by sport management students who were being placed in provincial offices of ASA.

He noted that, unlike netball and soccer codes, ASA did not want world standard facilities, but all it was appealing for was the assistance of the Committee to communicate with SRSA and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) that rural areas needed grass/ cinder/ clay tracks to develop athletics in schools. There were currently too few or no athletics facilities in most rural areas and people may have to travel 600 kilometres to get to championships, whereas the facilities ASA was asking for were very easy to put in, and cost effective to maintain.

Aligning ASA Demarcations With Sascoc Demarcations
Mr Skhosana said that ASA was demarcated into 17 regions within the nine political provinces of SA and that the organisation was working toward ensuring that all the districts in those areas were located under particular ASA regions. There were some differing views how the future should look; some suggested that ASA needed to convert all those regions to nine provinces when they went to the national championships, whilst the alternative view was that there should be 53 districts. The challenge with 53 districts was that it would so duplicate the races that the championship would have to run for a full week, and so this really came down to logistics and the finances. Currently, the matter was being handled through district and provincial eliminations but the matter would be taken to the Athletics Council meeting, and SRSA and SALGA would also be consulted to assist ASA in resolving the matter.

South Africa was obviously looking to bring back medals from the Rio Olympics in 2016 but faced stiff competition from other countries. Those other countries had full time coaches, but in South Africa the coaches were already over-stretched and were mostly also teaching staff in public schools. ASA was also asking the Committee to assist in allowing those teachers to be granted sabbatical leave from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in order to be with their charges when travelling around the world.

ASA had attached a written response report to the pack of documents, as well as a calendar of athletics fixtures for 2015. The CAA and the IAAF had also requested ASA to host its CAA championship for 2016 before the Olympics.

The Chairperson commented on the requests for assistance from the Committee and pointed out that the Committee did not have funds per se, but could be creative in finding ways to assist ASA to get more funding. She said that the Committee had been preparing to rigorously engage with ASA, but it had since been disarmed by the presentation of facts by Mr Skhosana in a very emotional manner. She said she was concerned about SALGA and the fact that Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) funding was being used for other purposes, instead of sport.

Ms D Manana (ANC) commented that the Committee was looking forward to getting more medals out of the 2016 Olympics, and thus wanted to know what interim programmes were planned for athletes between the recent Glasgow games and the Olympics in 2016. She asked also how far the process was of aligning ASA core programmes with SASCOC’s long term plans framework.

Mr Moteka agreed that the presentation had been quite emotional, and that it was very discouraging that the world saw SA as a utopia, when in reality the rural areas showed quite the opposite. The country had been quite adept at hosting big events and showcasing the ability of SA to host, yet there were no facilities in rural areas. Until such time as gold medallists came from rural areas, the country could never claim that transformation had occurred, because it was not simply about race or politics, but rather a question of who had or did not have opportunities and money to pursue them. It was great that ASA's talent identification emphasised prioritising the rural youth but he asked where, in practice, they would continue training. He agreed that the main stakeholders involved were SALGA and Municipalities, and there was a need to find out exactly what was happening with the MIG allocations. People had to account for what had been happening with the MIG funding, because there were sport offices in regions, but nothing tangible could be pointed to that resulted from those offices.

Mr Malatsi said that there were a few striking issues that were revealed by the financial statements. He cited, for instance, the employee costs, which amounted to R5 154 278 for the 2011/12 financial year but R3 846 638 for the 2012/13 financial year. The legal expenses had been R761 504 for 2011/12 and R 1 717 646 for the 2012/13 financial years respectively. Moreover there were loans bearing no interest to “L.Chuene”, amounting to R78 696. He asked that ASA elaborate on these figures and speak also to the chances of getting repayment on those loans.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) asked about the talent identification programme that ASA used, and wanted more specifics. She asked if Gézelle Magerman, the gold medallist from the Western Cape, had been paid?

Mr Ralegoma said that the Committee was worried that it was not getting the best out of ASA, and that the board was not convincing on whether ASA would not again fall into turmoil in the future.

Mr Skhosana responded to Ms Manana by referring her to the stages of athlete development in the ASA business plan, which looked specifically at rural areas development and transformation. He noted that the Commonwealth games took place before the World Championships of IAAF, followed by the Olympics. One tournament could therefore serve as a stepping stone to the other, and in that four year cycle the athletes under ASA were constantly being challenged to perform. Most of these athletes were in the SASCOC Operation Excellence (OPEX) programme, which was funding both their daily training and living expenses. That structured programme also outlined the expectations of the country of the athletes from the Olympics.

ASA would be holding a meeting with SASCOC regarding the long term coaching development programme, and said that some of its provincial athletes’ coaches had already benefited through that programme. ASA wanted to include as many teachers as possible in that programme and they were aligned with SASCOC.

The infrastructure challenges were indeed an emotional subject for ASA and the organisation agreed with Mr Moteka that, despite everything that SA achieved, there would still be pockets of society where serious challenges remained, and which could not simply be overlooked.

Mr Skhosana said that the financial statements were brought to the Committee “as they were” and they dated as far back as 2009, when the turmoil had started. SASCOC had dealt with the matter when certain officials had been fined, suspended and expelled, and this had included Mr L Chuene. That position could not be reversed. IAAF had been quite adamant that such a situation should never again occur at ASA, and SASCOC had ensured that some of those individuals would never be involved in sport again. ASA could no longer pursue actions against some, as that chapter had been closed. The loan issue was included in the punitive measures imposed on individuals who had been expelled from ASA.

Mr Jakes Jacobs, Board Member, ASA, noted that the staff salaries had decreased over the two years mentioned but legal costs increased.

Mr Skhosana added that the suspended staff had taken ASA to Court and to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which had ruled in their favour. ASA therefore had to pay those individuals even though they were not working any more.

Mr Skhosana said that the remuneration for athletes was handled by SASCOC and ASA had not heard anything about the youth athletes, but the bigger challenge for ASA would be how to keep Gézelle consistent moving forward to the World Junior Championships in the following years. That spoke to her support structures at home, at school, and on high performance and so forth.

Mr Skhosana said that ASA had a rather challenging situation in the country, in that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) claimed that school children fell entirely under its jurisdiction, whereas SRSA was saying that the law mandated that body to organise children for sport and recreation. That argument was affecting ASA programmes and its talent identification. He cited an example that  ASA would organise a school track and field championship for age groups 15-19 year olds, with the agreement from the KwaZulu Natal Athletics (KZNA) and the regional schools structures. However, after that was done, government might come in and change logistics without consulting the organisers of the event, leading to the position where ASA had to appeal to the Minister of Sport and Recreation. ASA had a defined structure of how athletics should run from schools, wards, districts, provinces, right up to national level, and often there was agreement in principle with both departments, but one or the other might diverge along the line in the actual execution of events. Any mishaps that happened at those meetings always got blamed on ASA, even though sometimes it was not directly in control.

He suggested that the turmoil that had once embroiled ASA could be avoided through the Committee keeping ASA in check continuously, both on matters of governance and athlete performance. Additionally the Committee would also have to assist in oversight of all ASA events and sites, even by participating as well.

Mr Skhosana said that lessons learnt from the challenges that had confronted ASA were that the organisation as a whole had been disgraced, because the world had believed in the democratic systems and the conflict resolution mechanisms. International colleagues had said that those difficulties should never be allowed to take hold of that organisation again, because they had tainted and affected the entire Southern African region and the Continent. Before the election of the new exercise SASCOC having to rescue athletics from the brink. Since the new board had come in, there was better and more frequent communication between the two organisations.

He reported that ASA currently had an Acting Manager, Mr Pieter de Jager, who could not attend because of the cost, but ASA was shortlisting for a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). That post would also require more resources.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Skhosana and said that the Committee was concerned with the references to the shortage of athletics training and events grounds, even with SALGA as a partner. The Committee would be meeting with DBE to deliberate on some of the matters raised by ASA. She noted that sport had not been voluntary when she was at school. She suggested that ASA should identify teachers that could coach, and develop them to be full time coaches, rather than targeting all teachers.

Mr Pieter Lourens, Vice Track and Field Chairperson, ASA, agreed that participation in sport for children was a right and not a privilege, but one of the challenges with SALGA was the high cost of hiring facilities. The parents of the children were already paying taxes, and it amounted to “double-taxing” when they were asked also to pay for their child’s use of a particular facility.

Mr Malatsi asked whether Mr Skhosana was saying that the loans would not be recouped, in the interest of laying the matter to rest, and whether, if this was correct, it did not contradict with ASA’s call that it needed more money. If the money that was originally in the accounts had been used irresponsibly, ASA should now pursue the matter.

Mr Jacobs said that Mr Chuene’s loan had been carried over from 2009 to date and the new board had inherited the situation It would be discussing the matter at the council meeting in September, for resolution.

Mr Skhosana agreed that Mr Malatsi had a point, but seeing that SASCOC had dealt with the matters and closed them, he was of the view that the current board could not reopen them.

Mr Mmusi and the Chairperson asked where Caster Semenya was at present.

Mr Skhosana said that Ms Semenya was in training, she was in South Africa, but was not participating in any competition. This was nothing particularly startling for middle distance runners, because there were runners from Kenya who were doing the same thing in trying to prolong their careers. She may take part in the IAAF championships in 2015, as she was training with Maria Mutola (three-time world champion and one-time Olympic champion), from Mozambique.

The Chairperson thanked ASA for the briefing and said that the Committee would have liked to have met with the Acting Manager but had accepted his apology. The assistance that ASA sought should have been directed to SRSA. She urged ASA, if it had challenges, to communicate with the Committee so as to avoid Members having to hear of them through the media.

Adoption of Committee Minutes
Meeting of 19 August 2014
The minutes were adopted without amendments.

Minutes of 26 August 2014
The Chairperson noted a grammatical error, and Mr Moteka rephrased the sentence for the Committee.

The minutes were adopted with those technical amendments.

Announcements and forthcoming meetings
The Committee Secretary noted that the South African Football Association (SAFA) had invited the Committee to attend the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier soccer match between Bafana Bafana and Nigeria on 10 September 2014. SAFA had requested the Committee to respond by 4 September, so that tickets could be organised.

The Committee Staff had been able to arrange for the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) to attend the meeting on 17 September, in a vacant slot between the end of Committee meetings and the plenary session that afternoon. SAIDS was also, on 4 October 2013, hosting a seminar on the implementation of the Federations’ Code, at Johannesburg, had invited the Committee, and this included an invitation to attend the All Blacks Ellis Park Rugby game on that Saturday.

The Chairperson asked that Members finalise the SAFA invitation, and asked that in future all invitations and ticket offerings should be addressed through her office. She also proposed that the staff should be included in those invitations, to which other Members agreed unanimously.

The Chairperson reminded members that the SAIDS presentation had been postponed before and asked Members to respond soon to the Secretariat about their availability. It would be useful for the Committee to attend the seminar and the rugby match.

Mr M Mabika (NFP) asked how many tickets SAFA would be offering individual members and whether the invitation would include spouses and friends.

The Chairperson said that she had not seen the formal invitation, but the staff could be instructed to find out if MPs could bring family members along.

The Chairperson asked the staff to update the Committee on the progress on Mr Luvo Manyonga’s case with SAIDS intervention and to report also on the netball player who had been hospitalised.

The Committee Content Advisor briefed the Committee on the progress of the Luvo Manyonga case. A meeting had been held between SAIDS, the management Committee (MANCO) and Mr Manyonga’s coach, on the appropriate interventions to get him back into competitive sport, and one of the resolutions was that SAIDS should identify a site where this athlete could be sent for rehabilitation. The coach had since confirmed to him that SAIDS had indeed carried out its mandate, and what remained was to decide when the intervention would commence, and how the interventions would be funded.

The Chairperson then asked if she could be allowed to brief the Minister on the issues around Mr Manyonga’s drug use challenges, the intervention which had been sought, how far that process had unfolded and what assistance SRSA could possibly offer. 

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had visited the netball player who had been hospitalised,  but when it was planning another visit the President of Netball South Africa (NSA) had informed the Committee that this player would need some time to recover, as she was undergoing multiple surgical procedures. The Committee had thus not visited again, but had sent through a gift.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Mbalula again for his presence and said that the SAFA briefing had enlightened the Committee on the match-fixing.

The meeting was adjourned.


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