SA National Boxing Control Commission on South African Boxing Bill: briefing

Sports, Arts and Culture

05 September 2000
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Meeting report

SOUTH AFRICAN BOXING BILL: PRESENTATION BY SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL BOXING CONTROL COMMISSION

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
5 September 2000
SOUTH AFRICAN BOXING BILL: PRESENTATION BY SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL BOXING CONTROL COMMISSION

Relevant documents:
South African Boxing Bill
List of people/organisations to invite to the public hearings

SUMMARY
The Committee dealt with the process to be followed in reviewing the Bill and whom to invite to the public hearings. Public hearings on the South African Boxing Bill will be held on 12 - 19 September 2000. The committee will deliberate and vote on the Bill between 20 and 29 September 2000. The Bill will be debated in the National Assembly on 5 October 2000.

The South African National Boxing Control Commission made a presentation on the interim boxing structure and their role in cleaning up boxing in South Africa. This was in response to the Committee's request that they provide background to SANBCC and what their plans are to clean up present problems in South African boxing rather than address the Bill specifically.

MINUTES
The Hearings Process: Planning

The Committee agreed to the following:
12 - 19 September 2000: Public hearings
20 - 28 September 2000: Deliberations
29 September 2000: Voting
5 October 2000: Debate in the National Assembly

South African National Boxing Control Commission (SANBCC)
Adv Rod Solomons, Chairperson of the SANBCC, gave an overview of the various organs of the Commission, their functions and what they are trying to achieve in boxing. He made the following points:
- The biggest problem in boxing at the moment is a lack of communication.
- It is for this reason that the Commission set up meetings with the various provincial commissions to discuss their vision, the current state of affairs, the financial inadequacies and the lack of communication amongst them.
- They have developed policy which has been circulated to the provinces for input.
- The Bill was published in the Government Gazette so as to get response from the public by end of June 2000.
- They have made a report to the Technical Inter-Governmental Committee dealing with the concerns raised at those meetings such as the lack of communication between various bodies.
Their mandate is to administer boxing under the terms of the existing Act.
- Their term of office expires when the new Act is promulgated and the Minister will then appoint a new Commission
- The Commission meets once a month and it has five subcommittees:
(i) Benevolent Fund Committee - makes recommendations to the Board regarding what to do with monies that will go to the boxer upon retirement or injury,
(ii) the Marketing Fund, Sponsorship and Finance Committee;
(iii) the Development Committee,
(iv) Dispute Resolution & Arbitration Committee,
(v) Ratings and Championship Committee (fight results are put together and given to the Commission for final discussion and decision).
- The CEO administers all committees and the Chair can attend all committee meetings
- Adv Solomons and CEO Mateza have had two meetings since being appointed and they have been dealing with the sanctioning of fights, legal disputes and trying to sort out the finances of South African boxing.
- The Department is investigating the previous CEO regarding his finances and the board
- The Commission owes creditors approximately R550 000 due to the mishandling of funds
- The Minister has secured about R400 000 from private parties to pay the creditors
- The CEO has been tasked with coming up with a plan to clean up boxing in South Africa and to make it a more lucrative and well run business
- The new Commission is very enthusiastic about getting boxing on its proper footing
- One major problem with the previous Commission was that they were not strong decision makers. Decisions were made based on friendship and status etc - this problem will not happen with the new Commission
- The key area they want to deal with at the moment is finances
-They have had indabas (informal meetings) with some judges and technical officials who are not being paid; additionally they have had indabas with Women and Sport South Africa (WASSA) because this new Act is trying to make sure women are more inclusive in the sport of boxing
-The CEO is located in the National Department making the Minister very accessible to him

Discussion
Mr Ncinane (ANC) complimented the "interim" Commission on the good work that they are doing. He asked what happened to the boxers who were not paid in the Free State by Joe Manyati and "why is he still operating?"

Adv Solomons replied that they still do not have all of the answers, but that they are looking into it.

Mr Pieterse (ANC) commented that he would like the Bill to better address the issue of women in boxing and such discrimination issues.

Adv Solomons replied that women in boxing is a fairly new issue and that they are looking into what has been going on internationally in order to get some input. The Commission would like to get input from women boxers themselves and would want them to be represented on the board when discussing this bill. Mr Mateza (CEO) added that the issue of women in boxing is addressed in the draft bill.

Mr Pieterse (ANC) asked about the Benevolent Fund and whether or not there is a provision for unemployment insurance (UIF).
Adv Solomons replied that the Benevolent Fund regulations are not prescriptive. They can make any such award that the Committee sees fit. Moreover, the new Act makes provisions for such an insurance fund and deals with the issue of sustainability of boxers. Mr Mateza added that the Benevolent Fund is currently only a fund that stays in a bank account. However, he would like to try to make it into a short-term insurance policy.

Mr Frolick (UDM) asked for more information regarding the money owed to creditors and where had the money (R400 000) come from to pay the creditors. Regarding the money that was embezzled in the past, what was being done about this?

Adv Solomons replied that the money raised was solicited from the private sector. Nothing has been obtained from Government funds. The embezzlement is still under investigation. The Commission will try to get the money back if they can pinpoint exactly who took the money.

Mr Chauke (ANC) asked about the problems and issues that were raised at the indabas. He also wanted to know more about the Commission's sub-committees.

Adv Solomons replied that the Commission leaves it up to the members how to run their committees although guidelines will be implemented. The problems raised at the indabas were with the BTT Report. Adv Solomons promised to ensure that the committee would receive copies of this report. Specifically, the issues discussed were about finances, TV dates/time, black promoters, Championship Committees, communication between the provincial commissions and the national commission and communication between the boxers and the provincial administrations. Also, the Commission will be looking into marketing and promotions in boxing. Adv Solomons expressed the view that the relationship between the Commission and the provinces is fractured. There is the issue of accountability and the Commission would like an accounting of operations and financial matters within the provinces on a weekly or monthly basis. In turn the provinces will receive information regarding national issues.

An ANC committee member commented that the promoters are the most problematic issue in South African Boxing. He wanted to know what, if any, are the Commission's plans to control the promoters as they are the "key players."

Adv Solomons replied that the Commission plans to have discussions with promoters in order to tell them of the Commission's new approach to boxing in South Africa. Furthermore, he wants input from the promoters on what ideas they have for boxing in South Africa and how they plan to act under this Bill. He also mentioned giving more opportunities to disadvantaged promoters who have not been given much opportunity thus far.

Mr Mateza added that he would like to focus on the area of broadcasting. He feels that this would bring in revenue to boxing in South Africa, maybe even more money than the promoters bring in. The Commission is currently in discussions with broadcasting companies. Additionally, he spoke of a marketing plan that would keep boxing alive, hopefully without a grant from the Government. He remarked that he was very aware of how ambitious this all sounded.

Mr Chauke (ANC) commented on the racism in boxing mentioned by Adv Solomons, specifically regarding black promoters. He asked Adv Solomons to address this issue further.

Adv Solomons replied that black promoters had made charges that when allocations of TV time/rights are given, most of the time is given to their white counterparts. He made a brief mention of the Minister intervening on this issue. The Commission has indicated to broadcasters that it wants them to spread TV time/rights in an equitable manner. Additionally, the Commission would like to see broadcasting rights investment in South African boxing.

Mr Mateza suggested that the Portfolio Committee invite the broadcasters to the hearings to discuss the portion of the Bill that addresses this issue. He suggested that the more involved broadcasters become, the more financially independent South African Boxing can become.

Mr Pieterse (ANC) was concerned that with such financial independence, the possibility of the sport being taken away from the people is greater due to the high costs of televising fights. What was once accessible to the public on regular television would be moved to pay TV and ordinary people would not have access to it. He said it must be remembered that "sports belongs to the people."

Adv Solomons' response was that the Commission agreed with Mr Pieterse on this very important issue that people should have access to see all the fights.

Chairperson Bhengu asked if there was an organisation of trainers, promoters, managers and judges.

Adv Solomons stated that at present he is not aware of one. However, the Bill has a provision that addresses the need for such an entity.

Mr Mateza commented that the new Bill should empower the boxer who is the actual employer. He stated that today's boxers really do not understand that they are the employer not the employee. They employ the managers and not the other way around. He related a story about a boxer not having his own checking account and how his manager wanted the boxer's money deposited into his account as if that was correct. He emphasised that this new Bill would educate the boxer of his or her rights as a boxer, not only in the ring but outside in the business arena.

Mr Chauke (ANC) questioned what was happening with the development of boxing in the various provinces.

Mr Mateza replied that each province has its own provincial Commission. Those provinces with newly elected Commissions are being brought on par with the existing Commissions. This was one reason for holding the indabas.

Mr Chauke (ANC) requested that the Commission be the last to give input on the Bill at the upcoming hearings as they are the national body and can comment on the submissions of others. Chairwoman Bhengu agreed.

The Chair thanked Adv Solomons and Mr Mateza for a very detailed presentation.

Invitation to the Hearings
Chairwoman Bhengu distributed a list of those that should be formally invited to the public hearings. The list included the South African National Boxing Control Commissions, the nine Provincial Boxing Control Commissions, the SA Ratings Commission, Rodney Berman, Branco Milancovic, Supersport's Russel MacMillan, SABC (Joe Visagie), the Department of Communications, SAFBA and Amateur Boxing. In the discussion that followed, the committee agreed to add e-TV to the list. They also agreed after some deliberation to target disadvantaged promoters to make sure they are represented as well.

Discussion
The Committee agreed to Mr Ferreira (IFP) suggestion that e-TV be added to the list of invitees.

Mr Frolick (UDM) asked if it was possible to make sure the disadvantaged promoters from the various provinces were also represented. He felt that the Committee should make a point of inviting them in addition to the other groups. Chairperson Bhengu agreed that there was a need to target the disadvantaged promoters.

Mr Chauke (ANC) made a recommendation that only those from the National Body should make presentations because this issue dealt with legislation specifically. He did not think the provinces should be invited as the provinces were already represented by the National Body (SA National Boxing Control Commission). Another committee member added that on most occasions the national body consulted with the provincial body, therefore there was no need to invite both.

Mr Ferreira (IFP) made the point that the provincial body and the national body do not always share the same ideas. He gave the example of the public hearings on the gun control bill where there were differing views.

Mr Chauke (ANC) suggested that the Committee leave the invitations open to the provinces, without it being a formal invitation.

Ms Bhengu said that she felt that the Committee did not stand to lose anything by inviting them, rather they would stand to lose more if they did not invite them. She made it clear that whatever is presented at these hearings would not be taken "as is." No matter what, the committee will deliberate, so she sees no harm in inviting all.
A committee member commented that the committee should invite all and if people donot want to come, they do not have to come. The Committee rejected Mr Chauke recommendation and agreed to invite the national body and the provinces in order to get the broadest viewpoints.

The meeting was adjourned.

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