The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) was meant to brief the Committee on current preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and implementation of the ministerial recommendations. However the majority of SASCOC board members were not present for the meeting – only six of 11 members were present. The Committee felt this was unacceptable and showed a lack of respect towards Parliament. It expected all board members to be present for such an important meeting.
The Chairperson called for the postponement of the meeting noting that the Committee had amended its schedule to accommodate SASCOC today yet majority of the board was not present.
Mr Ravi Govender, acting CEO, SASCOC, began his discussion by introducing himself and fellow board m present at the meeting and apologised on behalf of those absent.
Mr Barry Hendricks, acting president, SASCOC, further discussed the six board members not present and gave a brief reason for the absence.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Members what their thoughts were of the fact that only a fraction of the board members was present at the meeting.
A Committee Member said SASCOC members should be present - if it is a problem for SASCOC to come Parliament then the Committee would go to its offices instead as there were sensitive matters that needed to be addressed. It is a problem that only half of the board members were in attendance. This was not the first time an occurrence as such had happened, which conveys the message that the SASCOC baord does not show any respect towards the Committee.
Another Committee Member noted that in a previous meeting, it was discussed that all board members should be present the following time they appeared. It was said in this prior meeting that if not all board members pitched, the meeting should be postponed. The Member agreed the Committee would have to go to the SASCOC offices to meet with the board in order for this matter to be resolved. The Member found the situation showed the SASCOC board did respect the Committee or Parliament. There are certain matters the people of SA require clarity on. Since the Committee is the representative sports body of the public, and the public awaits to receive responses through the Committee, it is unacceptable that Board Members do not pitch for meetings.
Mr W Faber (DA) agreed with his colleagues that most of the board members should be present however, he felt the Committee should still listen to the board’s presentation so that the Committee can at least familiarise itselfwith the information. This does not mean the Committee has to make any decisions regarding the presentation. There are pressing questions to ask the board and Mr Faber did not want to wait another few weeks for this to be answered. He asked the Chairperson not to let SASCOC board members leave before the Committee has the chance to ask the Board questions for clarity.
A Committee Member stated that the people of South Africa know that SASCOC has serious challenges and in order to address this, all board members should be present at meetings. He also said that he had not heard the reasons for members’ absence. There are issues that the Committee would like to discuss with specific board members but cannot do so as they are not present. If the Committee continues to compromise on the importance of showing up to meetings, it will face serious problems. He agreed with the notion that the meeting should be postponed as it is unacceptable that less than 50% of the board is present.
A Board Member of SASCOC then responded that he is concerned with his colleagues who are not present at the meeting. He hoped to get further clarity on the matter at hand i.e. absenteeism of board members. It is only fair for either the acting or acting CEO to provide a proper explanations as to why each board member could not attend the meeting.
Mr Govender stated that before he offers an explanation on why each member is absent, he would like the Committee to know that the invitation was sent out and that each board member was told to be present. Mr Anant Singh, International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative for SASCOC, was said to be travelling; Dr Debra Alexander, IPC representative of SASCOC, was attending her son’s wedding; Mr Mark Alexander and Mr Jerry Segwaba were hosting a delegation in Johannesburg; Ms Natalie Du Toit had attended the Laureus Awards; Mr Kobus Marais chooses not to attend the meetings in the event of a conflict of interest and Ms Cecilia Molokwane was in Limpopo attending to family matters.
Mr A Seabi (ANC) responded that it is unfortunate however, no decisions can be made if half of the board members are not present – he asked that the Chairperson take this into consideration.
Mr Faber did not agree with his colleagues on the matter that there is not a quorum from the board’s side however, he did not understand why all members should be present if no decisions are meant to be made by the board. Although Mr Faber would like majority of the Board to be present, he does not understand why SASCOC should have a quorum. At the end of the day, the Committee is present so that it can ask the necessary questions and scrutinise the Board’s presentation.
Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) said it seems as if the Board of SASCOC does not care about the Committee and that the reasons given for its members’ absence shows there is no sense of urgency in attending meetings and dealing with thematters that SASCOC faces. He emphasised the meeting is just a waste of time.
A Committee Member was concerned about Mr Marais’ reasoning for his absence. She was concerned as to why Mr Marais does not want to attend meetings because of a ‘conflict of interest’. She asked the board if he does not attend board meetings as well or if it is just meetings with this Committee. This is a serious matter and if there is a conflict of interest, he should rather resign. The Member was not happy with this reasoning.
Another Committee Member stated there were two dates recommended for this meeting and it was decided to be on a Friday, a day the Committee does not usually meet on. After a compromise made by the Committee, the board has still failed to attend.
Mr Hendricks appreciated the concerns of Members and said that SASCOC does indeed take the Committee seriously. On behalf of SASCOC he takes the matter of turning the organisation around for the better very seriously. The board has had several national council meetings and would like to report back on progress made as well as preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games. It is unfortunate that some of the board members could not attend, but it is not a sign of disrespect.
The Chairperson was worried that this was not the first time that an incident such as this has happened before. She emphasised that SASCOC has shown the Committee disrespect by not attending. The matter of Mr Marais’ explanation for his absence was shocking and she was confused as to what he means by ‘conflict of interest’.
As a result of the discussion above, the Chairperson said she will not continue with the meeting any further.
The Chairperson would ask the Speaker of Office of Parliament to write a letter inviting SASCOC to the Committee meeting again.
The meeting was adjourned.
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