The Committee heard that the National Sport and Recreation Bill seeks to adopt and introduce key elements that would assist with the promotion and development of sport and recreation. The Bill aims to strengthen the role of the Minister in delivering the Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA) mandate. Disputes had been hard to manage with the current Act, and the Bill incorporates the introduction of a Sports Arbitration Tribunal that would assist with the handling of disputes. The role played by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) was set to be clarified through the Bill. Regarding bidding for international tournaments, the Bill would introduce a proper vetting and bidding process, and those who did not follow protocol would be penalised. The Minister would be able to appoint a commission of inquiry when disputes arose through the Bill.
Members asked about the implications of the Bill on the awarding of national colours, and whether foreign players within the sports sector were governed by South African laws and not those of their home countries. They were told that the king protea, as the national flower, was the insignia for all South African sporting codes, and the standard colours were green and gold.
SRSA said the Bill seeks to clarify the extent and application of the Ministers powers which already existed. There were few new clauses that were being suggested, such as the dispute resolution tribunal, and the regulation of the fitness industry. The Bill aimed to incorporate clauses from the Combat Sport and Fitness Bills, as these two bills had not yet been tabled The Department was only seeking to amend the rules in response to current challenges.
The Chairperson said that the Sport and Recreation Bill was a Section 76 Bill, so the involvement of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) was important.
Ms Tokozile Xasa, Minister of Sport and Recreation, said that the process of introducing the Bill had started two years ago. There had been attempts to amend gaps in the current law, and inherent risks needed to be covered through the Bill. There were several pieces of legislation that the Department wanted to bring to the attention of the Committee, but these had been cut due to the remaining time of the current administration.
The Bill in its current form sought to strengthen the hand of the Minister and bring greater power of regulation through clarity as to the position of the law in the delivering the Department’s mandate. One of the biggest problems with the current Act had been the way in which disputes were dealt with. There was a lot of conflict of interest involved. She was proposing the creation of a Sports Arbitration Tribunal through the Bill. This was not meant to be a public entity, but a committee that would work on an ad hoc basis to assist with disputes.
Previously, the Minister had struggled with the appointment of investigative committees. The powers of the Minister had always been challenged in this regard. She gave the example of the Stadium Management South Africa issue at the FNB stadium, were some spectators had died. The Bill would aims to address the issue of parallel information that challenged the existing authorities and had led to the duplication of tournaments and a refusal to pay fees, etc. In sport bodies such as cycling, the effects had been felt in their financial reports.
The Bill seeks to confirm the principle of one national federation in the administration of sport. The proposed Bill seeks to allow for the bidding of international tournaments through the government, and outlaws anyone from organising a major event in South Africa without government approval. The Bill would state the procedure to be followed in bidding. It seeks to clarify and regulate the issuing of national colours. It also seeks to regulate the appointment of foreign players to participate in sports within the Republic, as well as clarify the responsibility and role of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). She said that the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committee on Sport in the NCOP needed to meet and discuss the issues pertaining to the Bill, as this would unlock a lot of issues and assist with dealing with them.
Mr Alec Moemi, Director General (DG) Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA), said that a lengthy consultation period had taken place in regard to amending the Bill itself over several years. Various stakeholders had been involved in the process. The International Cooperation, Trade and Security (ICTS) cluster, and the social, governance and administration clusters had been consulted. The Departments of Police and Home Affairs were also consulted. Throughout the consultation phase, there was not much feedback that the Department itself had received from the entities involved. The correct processes had been followed in terms of ensuring that the Bill was tabled.
The establishment of a Sports Tribunal through the Bill would be of key importance. The current dispute procedure said that a federation involved should try to resolve a dispute on its own and if it failed, then SASCOC must intervene to resolve the dispute. Critical challenges emerged, with conflicts of interest arising through the current structures. He gave the example of someone being a member of a Cycling Federation board as well as a SASCOC member, so that when conflict arose, decision making would be difficult. He said there was a Court of Arbitration which was a voluntary Court, which dealt with conflict in sports in Switzerland and did not have any form of interference. South Africa was looking to adopt a similar structure.
Regarding bidding and hosting, the current law stipulates that federations must bid with the approval of the government, but some were not aware of this. The challenge that existed was that there were no penalties for those who did not follow the process, and the Bill seeks to introduce penalties for those who do not follow the correct protocol.
The power of the Minister had to be clarified through the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry when disputes arise in the sports sector. Previously, the President had been approached to establish commissions. There was a need for a soft and efficient mechanism to be put into place. The Department had been lucky because of the willingness of federations to cooperate with them, as well as the fact that a section in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) allows for commissions to be established, and this had worked. Cricket South Africa and SASCOC received public funding and had been willing to cooperate because of this.
Regarding the FNB stadium deaths, there were private entities such as Stadium Management South Africa, where the PFMA was not applicable as they did not receive state funding and were difficult to bring to account. The Bill should ensure that such entities would be held liable for their actions. The President could not always be approached for every inquiry.
The recognition of sports bodies needed to take place, and the strength of power through the law had to be sanctioned. There should not be multiple governing authorities but rather one solid and recognised body that imposes sanctions, licenses and registers players, establishes fees and schedules the occurrence of events. The body should outlaw those who attempt to challenge its authority. The initial plan in place was to have the DG recognise sports bodies and those that would not be happy with this could then approach the Minister for appeal. This was to avoid appeals being made directly via the courts. Cabinet had accepted this point.
Mr Moemi highlighted the issue of national colours. There was no dispute that the national flower of South Africa, the king protea, was recognised to be used for all the sports that existed in South Africa. It needed to be placed on the heart of clothing. Former President Nelson Mandela had given an exception to rugby to adopt the Springbok as their emblem for a period of ten years, and this had since lapsed and currently the rugby team jerseys had adopted the Protea sign. Clarity was being looked into regarding who had the power to call for national colours. The appointment of a national colours board should be put in place to deal with issues that may arise from the issuing of colours.
There was an issue with the registration of coaches. Coaches were not registered. There was a need for a record to know those who were formalised and not formalised. There was no corresponding law on this.
The role played by SASCOC was being clarified. SASCOC was a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and the Department had clarified what it could and could not do. If South Africa was to participate in aerobics and other international competitions, the Department was forced to work with SASCOC. It did not have room to sanction it, as it was an NGO. The relationship that existed was not governed by law, but by convention. A legal relationship was critical. However, through the government gazette, the Department through the Minister would publicise targets and mandates for SASCOC on an annual basis.
The national federations’ obligations were being targeted in amending the law. Compliance with South African law, foreign policy and the role played on the global market of such federations, needed to be clarified. In other parts of the world, governments sanctioned federations on what they must do, except in South Africa. When South Africa had bid for the World Cup rugby, the two votes from African countries did not vote for South Africa to host. A Moroccan citizen had voted for France after listening to his government not to vote for South Africa. Foreign policy was there serve one’s own domestic interests, and South Africa was implementing this in the sports sector.
Mr Moemi said that SRSA was involved in the recruitment of foreign sports persons through regulation to either participate or work within the South Africa sports sector. Self-regulation did not work. He gave an example of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) rules, which state that a team could register up to five foreign players and, at a given time, three could play. There were more players playing from foreign countries than those from South Africa in some teams. Regulation on this were going to be written code by code. All teams needed to be the same.
SRSA had previously written the norms and standards for the building of sports facilities. The implementation of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) had shown the various challenges and substandard facilities that had been built by municipalities. Close inspection would be implemented through the Bill.
The protection of vulnerable groups in sport and recreation had to be prioritised. This was to protect them against violence and sexual abuse which the Department was seeking to combat in sport. He referred to the soccer team and issues around sexual harassment that had previously emerged. A code of conduct needed to be signed and must be binding.
Regulation around combat sports had to be drafted and implemented. Karate, wrestling, and boxing as a sport, were being investigated. The Department was looking into the regulation of the fitness sector, as it had not been regulated and posed a serious risk. Registration of fitness practitioners must take place. A code of conduct should also be sanctioned, if approved by Parliament. Machinery to be used would also need to be regulated.
Regarding the School Sports Development Programme and the accreditation of sports promotion agents and their trade -- what they could and not do, as well as regulatory councils -- the Department would not introduce new public entities to sanction these. Some of the directorate within the Department would be asked to sanction to meet the requirements of the new law.
The Chairperson introduced Ms Nomvo Ngcenge, State Law Adviser from the Office of the Chief State Law Adviser. She said that her presence was important to help with the understanding of the Bill
Mr M Filtane (UDM) said that because of time, it was important to just focus on the content presented by the Department. The DG’s presentation was quite clear on the main issues and he wanted to engage on issues raised.
The Chairperson responded that the State Law Advisers were meant to be there to take the Members through the Bill, even though it might not be page by page. She said that they must give their input during the discussion.
Ms Ngcenge said that she did not have her glasses, and could not read without her glasses. She apologised.
Mr D Bergman (DA) said that with the Bill, the Minister was being given a lot of power to interfere. The government should support sport and should not seek to interfere. There was a duplication of roles and responsibilities, and it appeared the role of SASCOC was being taken over. He asked if the Springbok emblem was a threat to the national colour mandate? Would this fall away? He was worried how South Africa would be perceived at an international level by other sports bodies and the various implications that would follow.
Mr P Moteka (EFF) said he was concerned with Clause 6 of the Bill -- what was the intention of replacing ‘must’ with ‘may’? He liked Clause 7, as it would help a lot with getting rid of wastage. It must be a “must” that it should happen and not a “may.” Clause 9 of the Bill was problematic, if the Minister was set to establish a body of national colours. Ministers were politicians, and colours might end up representing political colours if this was not properly considered. The creation of a Sports Tribunal would help a lot. He agreed that some disputes took a long time to resolve and more needed to be done.
Mr Filtane said that the goal of the Bill was to provide for the promotion and development of sport and recreation. In the context of development, with players of colour in the Springbok national team, the coach had committed to SRSA that when the 2019 World Cup took place, there would be 50% players of colour and 50% white players. What was being done about this, as currently there were only 25% players of colour. Did the agreement still stand about the 50/50 rule in the context of the Bill? He said that provinces provided minimal budgets for sport -- why did the Minister not give personnel more power when it came to the budgetary process? The Department must investigate and support the provinces.
Regarding the foreign players, the PSL was having challenges on the labour front. What laws should apply to foreign players – those of South Africa or those from the countries they came from? Discretionary powers were being given to the DG through the Bill -- why not give these powers to the Minister, who was a public representative? What was the rationale behind this? The Department should be referred to as the supreme authority and not the ‘only’ authority in the Bill. There should be laws around the erection of sports facilities by the provinces, and they should consult the Minister before this. The definition of ‘newly erected’ had to be well defined from a legal perspective. What was defined as new?
Ms B Abrahams (ANC) said that Clause 11 section (b, referred to the point that the Minister may, if he or she deemed fit, appoint a Ministerial Committee of Inquiry. The use of the term ‘may’ came through as though there was an option. Incorporating the ‘must’ instead of the ‘may’ would be more useful. In Section 9, sub-section 3, the word “may” should be replaced with “must”, to give a guarantee of protection of vulnerable groups. She added that Section 6, subsection 6 (b), which deals directly with the inspection of sports facilities, had to be fully enforced.
Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) said that he wanted to know more about the combat sports. A process must be developed in the discussion to understand the rationale for combat sport, and he did not want anything to turn political. Public participation had to take place before Members gave their own view about the national colours. Other countries were clear about their colours and South Africa must follow suit. Lawyers from Parliament needed to assist to ensure that the process was smooth.
The Chairperson said that the Bill involved Section 76, so all nine provinces would be consulted. Everyone had the right to give their views as Committee Members. Norms and standards had to be uniform, and the interchanging use of ‘may’ and ‘must’ had to be made clear. The NCOP would conduct public hearings around the Bill.
Mr Moemi said that the Bill seeks to clarify the extent and application of the Ministers powers which already existed. There were few new clauses that were being suggested, such as the dispute resolution tribunal, and the regulation of the fitness industry. He gave an example of the Minister of Sport in Spain, who could sanction the imprisonment of athletes for their refusal to honour a national call out. The Department was only seeking to amend the rules in response to current challenges.
The national colour insignia was the king protea. The national colours were green and gold. There was no aim to change these colours.
Regarding the rugby team, the Minister would determine the steps that needed to be taken if transformation did not take place regarding the inclusion of persons of colour. Some coaches did submit recommendations in terms of recovery plans when their set targets were not met.
He said that constitutionally, the Minister could not be given budgetary powers. There were set bodies that existed to deal with the issuing of funds.
South African law was applicable to foreign players.
Regarding the Minister being the only authority, this was in response to a judge’s comment, which stated that the Minister was not being given enough power by the Bill.
Regarding the powers of regulation of sports bodies, the Minister being a public figure could not be given these powers, so the DG was tasked to handle this.
There were no laws or sanctions to which municipalities to comply for having up to standard sports centres. However, they were inspected and at any given time if they were not compliant with the standards, they would be asked to shut down. There were norms standards that defined what constituted a newly erected facility.
The Combat Sports Bill had been tabled for the past five years, but had not been given priority. The regulation of sports had to be done by the Department, and not the federations. He said the Combat Sports Bill and the Fitness Bill were being incorporated into the National Sport and Recreation Bill, as both bills were taking so long to be passed.
The Minister, in her final remarks, said that the Bill seeks to clarify things that had taken place since the inception of the Act itself in 1998. South African sport was part of tourism and thus needed to be taken seriously. The legal team from the Department would consider fully the use of the terms “may” and “must.”
Ms Ngena said that the Bill invoked Section 76 of the Constitution and would involve a rigorous engagement between both Houses, the National Assembly and NCOP. The time frame of the Bill was important to consider, since the current term left only three weeks. The Bill seeks to regulate local municipalities’ sporting centres, but Section 154 (2) was invoked by this.
Mr Moteka said that in terms of the national colours, if an apartheid flag was raised, it should be a crime.
The meeting was adjourned.
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