The Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Thulas Nxesi briefed the Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation on the establishment of the Committees of Inquiry to investigate alleged irregularities in the governance and management of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and to investigate facts and events that led up to the death of two soccer fans and the injury to 21 other fans at the match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs on 29 of July 2017.
On the appointment of a committee to investigate alleged irregularities in the management of SASCOC, the Minister mentioned to the Committee the numerous allegations against him in the media from individual board members, national federations and aggrieved individuals and the failure of the SASCOC board to respond adequately to the allegations against them. The seriousness of the allegations against the board prompted the Minister to appoint a Committee of Inquiry consisting of a retired judge, two additional members and a team leader for leading evidence, all with experience in the field of constitutional matters, governance and administration. He stressed the importance of keeping the integrity of the national sports structures above reproach to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders.
The departmental financial performance as at 30 June 2017 (Q1) showed that the overall spending was at R206.5 million which represented 19.4% of the total budget allocation out of a total budget of R1.066 billion. Spending on compensation of employees was at 23.5% totalling R24.9 million out of a budget of R106.1 million. Transfer payments’ spending was at 18.3% totalling R145.4 million out of a budget of R976 million. A mainstreaming and a report on the Development Grant results report was also presented by the Department.
The briefing was welcomed by the Committee, but Members noted that there was a lack of communication between the Department and the PSL when the disaster at the FNB stadium occurred and this was why there are currently two inquiries into the event. The duplication was a strain on resources and some members wanted to know what will happen if the inquiries came up with different findings because of different people investigating the same matter.
The Committee asked that PSL and SASCOC members to appear before the Committee to account and said there was a conflict of interest for PSL to investigate itself. Members also wanted an approximation of the cost of both inquiries and an update on the SASCOC CEO who was suspended as a result of sexual harassment charges.
Briefing by the Minister
Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Thulas Nxesi explained that the establishment of the Ministerial Committees of Inquiry was to investigate alleged irregularities in the governance and management of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and to investigate facts and events that led up to the death of two soccer fans and injuries to 21 other fans at the match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs on 29 July 2017. The appointment and terms of reference of the two Committees of Inquiry are based on the powers conferred on the Minister under section 13(5)(a) of the National Sport and Recreation Act and Treasury regulations. The terms of reference were made available to the Committee; however following the advice by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, certain changes were inserted. These changes are with reference to the original time duration of one month given to the Committees which was extended to three months and the second change gave the Committee the power where appropriate to refer any matter for prosecution or further investigation by an appropriate law enforcement agency, government department or regulator.
Talking about the appointment of a Committee to investigate alleged irregularities in the management of SASCOC, the Minister mentioned to the Committee the numerous allegations against him in the media from individual board members, national federations and aggrieved individuals and the failure of the SASCOC board to respond adequately to the allegations against them. The seriousness of the allegations against the Board prompted the Minister to appoint a Committee of Inquiry consisting of a retired judge, two additional members and a team leader for leading evidence, all with experience in the field of constitutional matters, governance and administration. He stressed the importance of keeping the integrity of the national sports structures above reproach to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders. This was critical to ensuring efficient and effective governance.
On the death of two soccer fans and injury to 21 other fans at the soccer match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs on 29 July 2017, the Minister was of the view that safety of fans must always be a priority. The inquiry was established to determine the reasons that led to the stampede at the FNB stadium. The Committee was informed that the Premier Soccer League (PSL) was also carrying on with its own investigation, however only the government can implement legislative and regulatory measures that any finding and recommendations may require. Some of the terms of reference of the inquiry include:
- Whether the provisions of the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act (SASREA) were properly enforced
- Whether any conduct or omission by any person or body, either intentionally or negligently, contravened any provision of SASREA.
- Advise on the effectiveness and efficiency of the current regulation and administration of soccer matches and recommend ways to eliminate any deficiencies which resulted in the death and injury of spectators at the soccer match at the FNB stadium
The appointments to the Committees of Inquiry are still in process but the Department of Justice have confirmed the appointment of Judge Ronny Pillay as Chairperson and Advocate Nkosi-Thomas as one additional member. Advocate Leah Gcabashe has also been confirmed as the team leader for the inquiry while there is still the need to appoint one additional member. The appointments to the Committee of Iinquiry into the SASCOC allegations are still in progress but Advocate Thandi Norman and Advocate Gcina Malindi have both been confirmed as additional members and team leader for leading evidence respectively.
The Minister also warned Members to expect some push back on this inquiry from the faction within SASCOC who do not want the investigation to take place. There was already a lobby of the media as evident in the publication of an editorial in the Citizen where the Minister was described as “egotistical”. Secondly, there was an argument that any investigation into the operations of SASCOC constituted interference by government in the autonomy of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) in violation of the Olympic Charter. In response to the arguments put against the establishment of the Committee of Inquiry, the Minister reiterated the seriousness of the allegations regarding the governance and management of SASCOC and the need for an independent inquiry. He also assured that the currently constituted board remained in place to carry out the mandate of SASCOC but subjected to investigation by the Committee of Inquiry. Finally, he stressed that the Department will keep the International Olympic Committee informed of all the developments.
Mr M Mabika (NFP) welcomed the briefing. He noted that there was a lack of communication between the Department and the PSL when the disaster at the FNB stadium occurred and this was why there are currently two inquiries into the event. The duplication was a strain on resources and he wondered what will happen if the inquiries came up with different findings because of different people investigating the same matter.
Mr L Ntshayisa (AIC) also welcomed the briefing of the Minister. There should be support for both Commissions of Inquiries. One of the fans who attended the soccer game at the stadium was surprised to see that tickets were been sold even when it was announced that the game was sold out. There was a need to investigate the management of the stadium for a possible case of corruption.
Mr D Bergman (DA) supported the Minister with regards to the inquiry but had some reservations about it. He also made mention of talks which suggested that the DA was involved in the inquiry. The terms of reference was one sided and he suggested that the scope of the investigations be widened to include the leadership issues within the various sporting codes. Mr Bergman also supported the Minister on the term of reference which seeks to test the efficacy of SASCOC.
Mr T Mhlongo (DA) reminded the Chairperson of the need to compel the PSL and SASCOC members to appear before the Committee to account. He talked about the egos in the affiliations of SASCOC. And said there was a conflict of interest for PSL to investigate itself. On the non-interference of government on the Olympic Committee, he was in agreement with the Minister. He wanted an approximation of the cost of both inquiries and if there would be any risk of the recommendations from the investigative Committees becoming national issues.
Mr S Mmusi (ANC) indicated that had the event’s organisers followed the provisions of legislations, the disaster would have been averted. He was part of those who drafted the Act regulating sporting organisations and events and such events can be risk and disaster free if the letters of the law was followed. In his opinion the investigation of the PSL would not yield any tangible results.
Ms D Manana (ANC) was impressed with the Minister for coming to brief the Committee without being summoned. She was not happy with the fact that the media did not cover the media press statement of the Department but gave coverage to the media statement of the PSL. The PSL has a lot of questions to answer. On the SASCOC issue, she talked about the CEO who was suspended as a result of sexual harassment. She wanted to know from the Minister if the alleged victim laid charges against the CEO and she was of the view that SASCOC be summoned to the Committee rather than being invited.
Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) echoed support and appreciation to the intervention of the Minister. He was particularly happy with the work of the Minister with regards to soccer and sport in general. The terms of reference was not one sided and he wanted a clarification from Mr Bergman on his statement that the DA was implicated.
The Chairperson noted that the Minister’s press release was actually reported by some media houses. Addressing Mr Mhlongo, she agreed with him on the need to invite SASCOC. His letter to her for that invitation was acknowledged and she told him that there was an invitation which was already sent to them but they postponed the meeting.
Mr Bergman clarified his earlier statement with regards to the mention of the DA with the different factions in SASCOC.
Responses from the Minister
The Minister thanked the members of the Committee for their support. In his response to the issues raised by the members, he stated that he was dealing with inherited issues and his sin was that he had decided to take the issues head on and noted that he had no vendetta against SASCOC.
Responding to Mr Mabika, he said he released a statement to the allegations of SASCOC which was covered by some radio houses; it came to him as a surprise to see a counter response by the PSL to the issues raised by the Minister. If there was misadministration, the investigative inquiry will determine this. On the inquiry, he told the Committee the three stakeholders are the Department, National Treasury and the Department of Justice. Cost and payment will be done through Treasury.
Of grave concern was the implementation of the recommendations and he stressed that all allegations remained allegations till they are tested by the investigative inquiry. On the terms of reference, the Minister noted that on legal advice he wanted the specific allegations to be addressed by the Committee of Inquiry. The intention was not interference of government in these sporting bodies but to encourage them to do the right things. There are rules of governance which he has insisted on following making him unpopular with some people. He expected a lot of propaganda against him but he promised never to react or respond to them, instead he would continue to give reasons for whatever decisions taken by him. The Chairperson of the PSL met with the Minister and gave an explanation that their own inquiry was set up so that they could have their own report. The findings of government supersede that of any other inquiry.
Responding to Ms Manana, the Minister stated that he had written correspondences to the relevant bodies demanding a detailed report on action taken on the sexual harassment case. On the debate of interference and intervention, the Minister noted that arguments will be put forward to support interference whenever people do not want to account or be accountable. No international law was superior to the laws of the Republic of South Africa.
Mr Lesedi Mere, CFO, SRSA, said there were no way costs for the inquiry could be quantified at the moment.
Mr Mhlongo was disappointed with the response by the CFO because he expected numbers to be branded already so that there would be reasonable projections. He proposed that a date be given to SASCOC to appear before the Committee.
The Minister in his response noted that part of the problem was the involvement of other stakeholders and things need to be done formally with other stakeholders, these were the issues making it impossible to give projected time duration for the Committee of inquiry to be inaugurated.
SRSA quarter 1 performance
Mr Mere said the Department’s financial performance as at 30 June 2017 (Q1) showed that the overall spending was at R206.5 million which represented 19.4% of the total budget allocation out of a total budget of R1.066 billion. Spending on compensation of employees (CoE) was at 23.5% totalling R24.9 million out of a budget of R106.1 million. Expenditure on goods and services was at 22.2% totalling R35.9 million out of a budget of R162.1 million. Expenditure was expected to increase in the second and third quarter when most of departmental projects are rolled-out. Transfer payments’ spending was at 18.3% totalling R145.4 million out of a budget of R976 million. Capital assets expenditure was at 7.2% totalling R162 000 out of a budget of R2.2 million. This was expected to increase as the year progresses with the procuring of new computers and office furniture.
Ms Sumayya Khan, COO, SRSA, said the report reflected progress made to date against key strategic objectives and annual performance indicators as reflected in the Department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP).
Under programme 1 (Administration), there were three targets to be achieved during the quarter under review. One target was achieved with 2 targets not achieved. The targets not achieved here were the percentage of invoices paid within the 30 days mark and performance assessment moderated for the previous financial year. The reason for deviation was because the a need was identified to engage the chairpersons of the moderation panels for levels 9 – 12 and because nine interns were trained and 3 additional officials were trained on the human resource budget plan during June 2017. The corrective action planned to address this was the introduction of a free-of-charge online course on Performance Management (through the National School of Governance (NSG)) which will be introduced to all staff and this planned to roll out during August 2017.
The Active Nation programme had five targets to be achieved by the programme during the quarter under review and they had been achieved. There was also an achievement on 6 additional indicators that did not have targets in quarter 1. The deviation in this programme was caused by outreaches, school sport championship, and Move for Health. A multipurpose court was completed and required to be handed over as part of the Youth Month activities. Also, the Gamtoos Valley in Port Elizabeth was a response to a need identified by the community for sport equipment and attire. There was a Budget Vote Outreach in Atlantis in the Western Cape to engage communities ahead of the Budget Vote debates. An outreach was also carried out in Kayakulu in response to a community need.
On programme 3, the Winning Nation programme, there were five targets to be achieved and they were all achieved. With regards to the number of athletes supported through scientific support programmes per year, the learners undergo various scientific tests that will help with the final selection for placement in sport focus schools. Learners are placed in these schools from grade 8 until they complete matric. Support was also provided for a number of major international events receiving intra-governmental support per year. However, as there will be no Ekhaya at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, other events and opportunities could be identified where South Africa can be showcased as a sport tourist destination.
On Programme 4, Sport Support, there were four targets to be achieved by the programme during the quarter under review; and only one target had not been achieved. In addition, there was an achievement relating to an indicator on bilateral engagements. There was no target for this indicator and therefore it was reported as achievement 5. Delays with respect to the transformation barometer agreements are as a result of National Federations not responding timeously, raising queries beyond the deadlines afresh, not complying and adhering properly with the tasks they were supposed to do or barometers they needed to populate, the misconstruing or misinterpreting of what they are supposed to do, and requesting for further extensions.
Mr Mhlongo wanted to know why the performance report was not backed with financial statements and why the term ‘partially achieved’ was used for some key indicators. In his opinion such targets were not achieved.
Ms B Abrahams (ANC) wanted to know the criteria used for awarding bursaries and how much had been paid out in bursaries till date. On overspending, she asked if that had any effect on the budget.
Ms Manana in her comments refereed to programme 1 and wanted to know when the report was prepared because the contents were not consistent to the current period. On the Active Nation programme, she wanted to know if the I million target for the 9 provinces would be possible. She wanted to know how certain the CFO was with respect to the transfers between municipalities.
Mr Ralegoma asked on the impact of not paying the invoices within the 30 day period.
Mr Mere, on the issue of payments within 30 days stated that legislatively, it was supposed to be that way but sometimes this was not possible due to certain factors such as incorrect invoices and in such cases negotiations are made and communicated with the service providers. Compared to other departments, SRSA was doing well. On the transfer of money, he also stated that such transfers are done only to provinces and not municipalities. Such transfers are only 20% and that was what was expected to be paid back by provinces. Business plans are submitted and cash flows are assessed. Such transfers are not made when the provinces did not submit the necessary documents and complying with what was required. Speaking about performance and finances, he stated that these are only expected at the end of the financial year.
Ms Khan said bursaries are only internal to the Department and only the employees are qualified to get this. Monies are not transferred to municipalities.
Mr Mhlongo in his follow up comment wanted a figure with respect to the performance.
Ms Abrahams wanted to know if there were consequences if provinces did not comply with the provincial grant payments.
Ms Manana wanted to know if all Departments submitted their business plans on time and the consequences if they did not.
Mr Lesedi in his response told the Committee a penalty schedule had been developed to penalise defaulting provinces and unfortunately the funds go back to the National Revenue Fund which made it counterproductive. Provinces are encouraged to comply.
Ms Khan speaking on the targets, noted that out of 12 targets, 10 were achieved and it was difficult to correlate the targets to the budget mainly because some of the targets did not include a 100% expenditure of the budget and it was difficult in the first quarter to correlate targets with the budget because a realistic picture may not be presented.
Ms Khan said SRSA has ensured that its programmes encourage participation (mainstreaming) of designated groups (gender, disability, youth and elderly person). Its practice and competition venues are disability friendly and safe for women and the elderly. The Department cooperated with the Departments of Women and Social Development, focusing on about 16 different programmes which are geared towards the youth, elderly, women, children and the disabled in society. Some of the programmes include School Sport Championships Autumn Games, the Big Walk, rural sports development programmes, indigenous games and a few others.
Development Grant results
The report on the Development Grant first quarter results was based on five indicators across the nine provinces with respect to their annual targets and achieved targets. These were:
- Number of people actively participating in organised sport and active recreation
- Number of learners participating in school sport tournaments at a district level
- Number of sport and recreation promotional campaigns and events implemented per year
- Number of schools, hubs, and clubs provided with equipment and/or attire as per the established norms and standards
- Number of academies supported
Some of the provinces had targets achieved, others were not achieved and some overachieved. In the current financial year, the business plans of some of the provinces were reviewed and sent back because they were not properly prepared. This invariably affected their targets. With regards to academies supported, most of the provinces have no targets in this regards. Ms Khan noted that there was an ongoing engagement with provinces to help them in meeting their targets.
Mr Ralegoma said the mainstreaming report was impressive and wanted to know if it would be continuous because it was very informative and useful. There was need for broader interaction with the permission of the Chairperson in order to improve oversight of the Committee in terms of cooperative governance.
Ms Manana was also very impressed with the report. She advised that the programmes be monitored so that the aim of the mainstreaming would not be defeated.
Ms Abraham wanted to know the reasons for non-achievement of targets by the provinces.
Mr Mmusi in his contribution also applauded the report. He wanted to know if the Department had exhausted all the codes available to people with disability. He wanted to know about the transformation with regards to disability and gender.
Ms S Khan responded by saying mainstreaming will henceforth be a part of the reports presented by the Department. She noted all the recommendations and promised that the concerns raised by the Members will be part of the debriefing. On the issue of transformation, she stated that work was ongoing with the transformation barometers and there was close monitoring of those transformation reports.
The meeting was adjourned.
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