South African Boxing Bill: hearings

Sports, Arts and Culture

19 September 2000
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Meeting report

SOUTH AFRICAN BOXING BILL: HEARINGS

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
19 September 2000
SOUTH AFRICAN BOXING BILL: HEARINGS

Relevant documents:
Presentation document (Orange Free State)
Presentation document (Eastern Cape)
Presentation document (Kwazulu Natal, Mpumalanga, Western Cape and North West Province)

SUMMARY
The committee heard submissions from the provincial boxing commissions on their concerns over the provisions of the Bill. All of them agree to the basic object of the Bill which is to transform boxing in South Africa, but they tend to disagree with the manner with which it is being done. The clauses that were of most concern were 7, 9, 19, and 29. The issue was one of power: power of the Minister, power of Boxing SA and also the power of major promoters and managers. Resultantly much of the discussion revolved around these clauses. The Chair concluded that she would have preferred it if presenters could have made constructive recommendations regarding those problems they encountered in the Bill.

MINUTES
The Chair, Ms Bhengu, pointed out that the reason for the committee inviting stakeholders to make submissions is to inform the committee of portions of the Bill with which they are dissatisfied. Bearing this in mind she asked presenters to stick to the contents of the Bill when making their presentations.

North West Province Boxing Control Commission
Mr MA Koena stated that they felt the Bill is undemocratic. He felt that this Bill would eventually end up in front of the Constitutional Court. He added that he would not be dealing with the Bill clause by clause [as North West would provide a joint presentation later in the meeting].

Discussion
Mr Frolick (UDM) asked which clauses are specifically unconstitutional. He felt that there was no substance to Mr Koena’s arguement.

Mr Koena replied that the old Act is well founded on democratic principles. The old Act provides for the election of Provincial Commissioners from an Electoral College. The point he was trying to make is that experts in the field choose the administrators for the province. Each province of 9 members elects a chairperson that automatically becomes a member of the National body. In the new Bill, the opposite is done, the Minister appoints the National body. Mr Koena was adamant that this is totally undemocratic and unacceptable.

Mr Mhlangeni (ANC) asked Mr Koena to refer to a particular clause that is unconstitutional. Mr Koena stated that the unconstitutional clause that provides for the Minister to appoint the National body is Clause 9(2). He added that Section 13 in the old Act provides for the democratic election of a National body.

Mr Louw (ANC) asked which other clauses are undemocratic. Mr Koena stated that the Bill as a whole is making advances in the sport of boxing.

Mr Morkel (NNP) asked if the power and composition of the new Bill should be replaced by the provisions in the old Act. He asked whether it should be the same wording or does the presenter have a suggestion. Mr Koena stated that the Bill does contain attractive parts irrespective of it containing unconstitutional provisions. He wondered what the Bill was trying to remedy as the main problem in boxing at present is financial mismanagement. He asked, is the Bill addressing this problem?

Mr Chauke (ANC) stated that they are trying to overhaul the old Act. He emphasised that the National Commission is there to address the problems in boxing. Mr Chauke added that there is no way that they are going back to the old Act as they are looking forward.

Mr Frolick asked if Mr Koena felt that the independence of boxing in South Africa is being threatened by the Bill.
Mr Koena replied that too much power is placed in the hands of the Minister.

Mr Chauke asked if what he is saying reflects the sentiments of the boxers in the North West Province. Mr Koena reacted that he is the representative from the North West Province. He might be speaking but it is the voices of the boxers that are being heard.

Orange Free State Provincial Boxing Control Commission
Sinton Tsekeletsa, the secretary of the Commission, highlighted certain discrepancies and changes that they would like to effect on the Bill. The clauses that they had problems with are Clause 7 (Powers of Boxing SA), Clause 8 (Duties of Boxing SA), Clause 9 (Composition of Boxing SA), Clause 11 (Appointment of a Director for Development and Transformation) and Clause 29 (Broadcasting Rights at Tournaments).

Mr Tsekeletsa emphasised that a clause was needed in the Bill that makes provision for:
· The period of validity of licence fees
· Remuneration of referees and judges
· International and inter-continental fights
· World title fights should be as according with the said World body’s scales of remuneration.

Mr Tsekeletsa also proposed criteria for Ratings and Challenge approval as well as criteria for choosing Ring-Officials. He concluded that they hold the new Bill in high regard, as a tool in the right direction pending its proper, correct and democratic implementation by all stakeholders.

Discussion
Ms Southgate (ACDP) asked whether the criteria for ratings should be provided for in the Bill or in regulations. Mr Tsekeletsa stated that they would like it to be included in the Bill

Mr Mlangeni asked whether a boxer is tested before he gets into the ring. Mr Tsekeletsa answered that a boxer is tested for AIDS and Hepatitis when he is licenced as a boxer. Prior to the boxing match only his fitness is tested.

Mr Frolick asked why he wants the provincial administrations to have some of the powers of Boxing SA. Mr Tsekeletsa felt that the administrative burden on the National body is too great. He stated that the provinces could alleviate this burden. He emphasised that the Bill should provide for Boxing SA to delegate some of its powers to the provinces.

Mr Ncinane (ANC) asked whether a boxing official who has been suspended by his provincial commission, could flout suspension if he should move to another province. Mr Tsekeletsa replied that all the minutes of the provincial commission’s meeting in which he was suspended would be sent to the National commission. They would in turn inform the other provinces of his suspension.

Eastern Cape Boxing Control Commission
Mr K Radu stated that they had some general concerns regarding the Bill. Even though the Bill might improve the image of boxing as far as structures and financial management is concerned, the question remains whether the government can afford to legislate on every professional sporting code in the country. Additionally, the role of Provincial Government in the Bill is ambiguous as far as policy and decision making is concerned. Clarity on their role is required. He expressed concern over the total separation of roles in the Bill between promoters and managers. He feels that sometimes these roles overlap.

Mr Radu stated other than these general concerns, they also recommended certain changes to the Bill that are expressly set out in their submission. He did however state that he would highlight some issues that are not covered in the Bill:
- He wants transparency on television rights and coverage. The Bill should make provision for government intervention in the allocation of television rights. Broadcasters like MNet should be prevented from monopolising the broadcasting of fights.
- The Bill should specifically state that commentators should refrain from giving their own opinion during scoring of fights.
- The Bill needs to specifically provide for contractual obligations to exist between boxers and promoters. He explains that in many instances boxers leave their original promoters/managers to join up with larger promoters/managers. Essentially this means that the smaller promoter/manager loses out on his investment in the boxer. He pointed out that the Bill makes no mention of transfer fees or sales fees to which these smaller managers/promoters are entitled.
- The Bill does not provide for the government to monitor the activities of supposed world-renowned bodies and international agents who promote fights in South Africa.
- The Bill is silent on health issues. He would want the Bill to regulate HIV/AIDS testing.

Discussion
Mr Ferreira (IFP) asked why commentators should not be allowed to give their opinions, especially if judges crook a boxer. Mr Radu explained that he had not worded his previous statement properly, what he meant to say was that the Bill should address the problem of bias in commentating.

Ms Southgate asked how he would like government intervention in the Bill. Mr Radu stated that in the past boxing was run by hoodlums. To prevent this from happening again, government should regulate boxing on a continuous basis.

Mr Mlangeni asked why should there be a problem with commentators giving their opinions. This should not influence the judges.
Mr Radu replied that in boxing the stakes are high as large amounts of betting money is involved. When people decide on whom to bet they hinge on every word that the commentator says. This could even influence the way that a judge makes his decision.
Mr Tsekeletsa (Free State) added that in order to prevent this from happening, persons should receive training in commentating.

Mr Pieterse asked whether he feels that bigger promoters have a responsibility towards smaller promoters and if co-promotions and joint venturing between them takes place.
He asked how Mr Radu feels about these so-called world bodies that promote fights in South Africa. He also asked about the role of women in boxing, not only participating in the sport but also officiating.

To the first question, Mr Radu stated that big-time promoters should be charged a levy that can be used to uplift small-time promoters. He added that joint venturing between them does take place but that it is normally by way of a gentleman’s agreement. On the question of world bodies, he felt that they should be whipped into line, as they tend to take advantage of situations in countries like ours. He welcomes women in boxing not only as participants in the sport but also as officials. He added that he was aware of female officials in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng and Orange Free State.

Northern Province Boxing Commission
Mr Steven Dzumba stated that, the powers of the Minister was previously provided for in regulations. However, now the Minister’s power is expressly provided in the Bill, which does not allow for much participation with stakeholders. Mr Dzumba stated his concerns with the Bill as follows:

Clause 7 (Powers of Boxing SA)
Mr Dzumba was concerned about the use of, "may" and "shall" in the clause. He felt that too much power was given to Boxing SA.

Clause 13 (Tenure of office, vacancies and remuneration of members of Boxing SA)
Mr Dzumba suggested that 13(3) (4) and (5) should be amended.
· 13(3), "If the Minister removes a member from office as contemplated in subsection (2), the Minister may appoint another member after advertising the post."
· 13 (4), "Whenever for any reason the office of any member of Boxing SA becomes vacant before the expiration of the period for which he or she has been appointed, another member must be appointed after advertising the post to fill the vacancy until the expiration of the period for which the vacating member was appointed."
· 13(5), "A member whose term of office has expired is eligible for reappointment by the Minister, after advertising the post".

Clause 17 (Finances of Boxing SA)
Mr Dzumba stated that 17(b) provides fees from registrations to be payable to Boxing SA. He asked what funds would remain at the provinces.

Clause 19 (Delegation of powers)
- Mr Dzumba was concerned about the use of the word "may" in 19(1) and (2). He suggests that the word "shall" be used instead.
- Subclause 19(2)(f), "Boxing SA may not delegate the issuing of licences", is incorrect as the workload for Boxing SA would be too much to handle. Provinces should be allowed to issue licences.
- A time frame should be included in 19(4)(a) and (b) where notice has been given and where notice has been received.

Clause 22 (Composition of provincial office, location, reporting, meetings, remuneration of officials and expenditure)
- Mr Dzumba disagreed with the use of the word "after" in 22(1). He suggests it be phrased as follows, "A provincial office of Boxing SA consists of one representative appointed by the Minister in consultation with the members of the Executive Council responsible for sport and recreation in each province."
- Subclause 22(4)(b) makes mention of, "other persons". He wants to know who they are and what qualifications they have.
- Similarly 22(4)(c) speaks about an "advisory board". Once again he asks in what capacities are these people appointed.

Clause 24 (Powers and duties of provincial offices)
Mr Dzumba was concerned about the use of the term, "other officials" in 24(c). He asked who these officials are, and how many are to be appointed.

Clause 27 (Composition of local office, tenure of office, vacancies and meetings)
Mr Dzumba felt that the use of the clause, "co-opt a prescribed number of persons" in 27(1)(b) is too vague. How many persons may the local office co-opt, was the question Mr Dzumba wanted answered.

Clause 39 (Offences and penalties)
This clause states, "Any person who contravenes any provision of this Act is guilty of an offence and on conviction liable to a fine [or to imprisonment not exceeding twelve months or to both a fine and such imprisonment]". Mr Dzumba felt that the portion in brackets should be deleted, as no fighter would intentionally enter the sport solely for the purposes of committing a crime. The provision is criminalising the sport itself.

The Chair made an observation that presenters tend to highlight portions of the Bill that they do not agree with, but do not make recommendations as to what these portions must be replaced with. She urged presenters to make recommendations. In response to this, Mr Dzumba said that he would send the committee his recommendations.

Kwazulu Natal, Mpumalanga, Western Cape and North West Boxing Commission
These provinces made a combined presentation. They had previously met and agreed that they have the same grievances. Mr Arthur Nxumalo from the Kwazulu Natal made the presentation on their behalf. He stated that they felt that various provisions of the Bill are problematic. They felt that amendments need to be made to the following, Clause 9 (Composition of Boxing SA), Clause 15 (Chief Executive Officer of Boxing SA), Clause16 (Staff of Boxing SA), Clause19 (Delegation of powers), Clause 20 (Provincial Offices of Boxing SA), Clause 22 (Composition of provincial office, location, reporting, meetings, remuneration of officials and expenditure), Clause 24 (Powers and duties of provincial offices), Clause 29 (Broadcasting rights of tournaments), Clause 33 (Tournaments may be stopped or forbidden), Clause 35 (Firewall between promoters and managers), Clause 44 (Procedures for disputes) and lastly Clause 46 (Application of Act). [See submission for details].

Discussion
Mr Ncinane stated that he would have preferred the provinces to do their presentations, separately. Mr Mlangeni and Mr Ferreira both agreed that if they have common grievances it should not be a problem to give a combined presentation. Additionally a combined presentation saves time.

Mr Chauke asked why the other provinces were not included in their presentation.
Mr Nxumalo stated that they had invited all the provinces to participate but some of them did not turn up at the meeting.

Mr Ncinane stated that crime is prevalent in sport. He asked why Mr Nxumalo felt that the punishment in the Bill should be limited to a fine.
Mr Nxumalo replied that all he is saying is that the punishment should not be so harsh.

Mr Chauke said that the North West Province presenter had stated that the whole Bill is unconstitutional. He added that the alliance on the other hand says that they want to change and amend the Bill. Does the alliance agree with the North West Province that the Bill is unconstitutional?

Mr Koena (North West Province) pointed out that he had not said that the whole Bill is unconstitutional. But only Clause 9. Mr Nxumalo stated that the alliance does not consider the Bill unconstitutional, only Clause 9. He added that they do see good things in the Bill.

Mrs Southgate asked which part of the Constitution is Clause 9 infringing on.
Mr Nxumalo stated that there is no specific section in the Constitution that it is infringing on. It goes against the spirit of the Constitution. He added that some things are done by convention not legislation.

The Chair asked what his understanding was of the object of Clause 29 (Broadcasting rights of tournaments). Mr Nxumalo felt that the clause is interfering with the every day dealings in the business world. If the broadcasting of boxing is going to be legislated, it should be done in terms of the Broadcasting Act. He stated that government should provide for broadcasting legislation to empower blacks as a whole.

Mr Fihla (ANC) stated that the Bill is trying to protect boxers. He added that they are in the process of fine-tuning the Bill. Mr Nxumalo said that they agree with the committee in principle, but that there are better ways of dealing with the issue. He felt that boxers themselves must decide who should look after their interests.

The Chair stated that her impression of the presentations was that they are only looking at the interests of the promoters and broadcasters. She feels that too little attention has been given to the boxer. The Chair stated that Clause 29 is trying to provide a solution to a problem. She said that if they have a problem with it, she welcomes alternative solutions.

Mr Pieterse stated that so many boxing bodies exist overseas. He asked, how does one manage this process. Mr Nxumalo answered that before any boxer can represent South Africa overseas, he must get the blessing of the National body.

The Chair adjourned the meeting till 6pm when the remainder of the provinces would make their presentations [the evening session was not monitored].

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