SASCOC & Athletics South Africa on preparations & readiness for 2021 Olympics; with Minister

Sports, Arts and Culture

23 February 2021
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Sport, Arts and Culture, 23 February 2021

In this virtual meeting, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympics Committee (SASCOC) and Athletics South Africa (ASA) presented the Committee with an update on the country’s preparations and readiness for the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games.

SASCOC said the estimated number of athletes and officials in the SA Olympic team would be 303, while the Paralympic team would total 72. They expected South Africa to win 13 medals in the Olympics, and 19 in the Paralympics. A budget of R12.2 million had been allocated for preparation for the Olympics, and a further R44.3 million for Games itself. R2.8 million had been budgeted for preparation for the Paralympics, and a further R17.8 million for the actual Paralympics.

ASA described its aims and objectives for the Tokyo games. It said the government needed to look at the travel bans, and should make plans in case the borders were closed. It was working on a programme to allow athletes the opportunity to train in SA if the borders remained closed. ASA had faced challenges due to the lockdown regulations, which had hindered athletes’ training. It expressed its gratitude for the support it had received for the Caster Semenya case, and thanked the Department for providing ASA with Covid-19 relief funding to assist its athletes.

Members raised concern about the large team South Africa was sending to Tokyo, and the large amount of money allocated for the Games, considering that SASCOC aimed to achieve only 32 medals. Why did it plan to take 31 sporting codes to Tokyo if it aimed to achieve medals in only seven of them? They felt that SASCOC and ASA were not considering the state of the economy and the impact of the pandemic. They asked if the qualification criteria had been lowered to accommodate more athletes. What had ASA done to assist elite athletes and medal hopefuls during the lockdown period?  They asked why SASCOC had not included boxing, and what it was doing to promote all sporting codes, and indigenous games such as stick fighting.

Members raised questions about the fairness of the election of SASCOC’s board members; why national lottery funds were being channeled through the Sports Trust; what ASA was doing to assist athletes in rural areas who were not with a registered club; and what SASCOC was doing to promote women in sports. They also complained that municipalities were doing nothing to build sporting facilities for their communities. The Committee asked for an update on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) regarding the development of sport at schools.

Meeting report

The Chairperson commended the Members for following Covid-19 protocols. She said saying that it was a tough year, and the only glimmer of hope was the matric results announced yesterday. She commended the matric class of 2020 for persevering, even though many came from a disadvantaged background, and praised the teachers for their hard work.

The Agenda of the meeting was adopted. 

Committee minutes

The Secretary took the Members through the minutes of 16 February.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) noted that the minutes did not contain annexures which contained all the matters arising that the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) must address.

The Secretary replied that she had requested that DSAC send the documents of how it would respond to the issues raised. The Department had sent the Damascus report, the Vietnam report and the liberation museum report. It had also sent the responses about the consequence management and irregular expenditure, but had retracted this report. It did commit to send the outstanding reports that Mr Mhlongo was referring to, and the responses to the follow-up questions raised by the Committee.

The Chairperson asked DSAC why the outstanding reports were not sent.

Mr Vusumuzi Mhkize, Director General (DG), DSAC, replied that the consequence management report had been sent to the Committee. The report included the first, second and part of the third phase of the process.    

A representative of DSAC added to what the Secretary had said -- that the Department had sent the annexures that contained the projects it implemented in the last financial year. It had also sent the first and second wave of Covid-19 relief fund report. It was supposed to have revised the consultation with the music sector in the programme two report, because the report lacked certain issues raised by the Committee. A more comprehensive report would be received by the office of the DG today, and it would be sent to the Committee as soon as possible. The Department also sent the report that the Department received from the National Heritage Council (NHC).

The Secretary asked the DSAC if she could circulate the report of the consequence management to the Committee, because the Department had requested that she must retract it.

The representative of DSAC cleared up the issue by saying that the Secretary had the updated report, and that the Secretary had been requested to retract the report on the consultations with the music sector.

Mr Mhlongo requested that an annexure must be at the end of the minutes in order to know exactly what issues were outstanding and what issues were raised, because the Committee had not received all the reports.

The Chairperson noted that there was one outstanding report from the four reports requested.

Mr M Seabi (ANC) agreed with Mr Mhlongo, because he had not received any reports. He moved the adoption of minutes and said that the outstanding information from DSAC should be considered as ‘matters arising.’ 

The minutes were adopted.

SASCOC: Preparations for Tokyo Olympics
Mr Leon Freimond, Manager: Performance Training and Coaching, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) took the Committee through a detailed presentation on South Africa’s preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. He indicated that the estimated number of athletes and management was 303. The Paralympics total estimated number of athletes and management was 72.

So far, 135 Olympic athletes and 18 Paralympic athletes had qualified. The cut-off date for qualifying for the Olympics was 5 July, and for the Paralympics, it was 2 August.

He described the programme of events leading up to the Tokyo Games. The International Olympic Council (IOC), the International Paralympic Council (IPC) and Tokyo 2020 had released a playbook for athletes and officials on 5 February covering a guide to a safe and successful Tokyo Games. The playbook had been designed to ensure that all participants at the Games were kept safe and healthy as best as possible. The playbook took into consideration the following key aspects:

Before travel.
Entering Japan.
During the Games.
Leaving Japan.
Vaccines.
Compliance and Sanctions.

He stressed that the IOC, IPC and Tokyo 2020 had repeatedly said that the vaccine was not mandatory to participate in the games.

According to the playbook, all team members would need to start monitoring themselves 14 days prior to entering Japan, and also take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the virus 72 hours before the start of their journey. They were therefore looking at possibly having decentralised pre-Games camps for the respective sports 14 days prior to departure to Japan.

A key point in the playbook was that every National Olympic Committee/ National Paralympic Committee (NOC/NPC) had been asked to appoint a COVID-19 liaison officer. This person would be their key contact for all matters related to COVID-19. They would also be the contact for the IOC/IPC, Tokyo 2020 and the Japanese health authorities. South Africa’s COVID-19 liaison officer would be responsible for ensuring the teams understand and follow this playbook, and they would receive their own detailed guidelines related to their role. The playbook would be updated as required to ensure it reflects the latest developments. The next version would be published by April 2021.

SASCOC had applied to the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), and funding would be allocated via the Sports Trust for potential Olympic and Paralympic medal athletes, backdated from October 2020. This had been approved and was being implemented.

Through the SASCOC Project Teams, all national federations (NFs) had been requested to submit long lists of possible team members, as well as their preparation plans. All long lists had been received and uploaded on to the Tokyo 2020 accreditation system. Covid-19 had had a serious impact on most of the sports preparation and qualification plans, as key events had been either postponed or cancelled. This was being monitored.

SASCOC had circulated a Team SA Athlete and Team monitoring register to all NFs to populate, which would assist with the tracking and monitoring of athletes’ preparations and qualification, as well as their health and injury status, for the medical team to intervene if and when necessary.
Due to the current restrictions, NFs have to indicate their preferred high performance centres that could be used for pre-departure quarantine camps, as the plan was to decentralise the camps for purposes of safety for all team members, and to comply with government regulations.

Whilst an athlete’s preparation was the NFs’ mandate, SASCOC engages the NFs on their progress about preparation/qualification, and would provide assistance and guidance where necessary.
 
All athletes and team officials would go through medical screening. All Athletes selected would have anti-doping tests conducted or arranged by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) if they were not in the country. All athletes and team officials would complete the online World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) e-learning course, as well as the safeguarding course.  North West University was currently scheduling webinars on mental health and wellbeing, as agreed by the SASCOC Board for the possible Olympic and Paralympic team members.

There was daily communication with all relevant stakeholders to ensure they follow all the required timelines and activities. SASCOC was also in constant liaison with the South African Embassy in Japan, who were assisting them on the ground in Tokyo, as they were still unable to travel to Tokyo. They had taken part in a number of Chef de Mission webinars with Tokyo 2020, and would still be consistently attending more as and when required by Tokyo. There had been a medical webinar in January arranged by the IOC, the IPC and Tokyo 2020 for the respective countries’ chief medical officers (CMOs) to go through the Covid-19 updates and proposed protocols. Both South Africa’s Olympic and Paralympic CMOs had attended.

Mr Freimond said that SASCOC had allocated a budget of R12.240 million for the preparation for the Olympics, and had allocated a further R44 343 750 for the actual Olympic Games. It had allocated a budget of R2 790 000 for the preparation for the Paralympics, and a further R17 819 500 for the actual Paralympics.

SASCOC expected South Africa to achieve 13 medals in the Olympics, and 19 medals in the Paralympics.

Presentation by Athletics South Africa (ASA)
Mr Aleck Skhosana, President, ASA, said the government needed to look at the travel bans, and should make plans if the borders were closed. ASA was working on a programme to grant athletes the opportunity to train in SA if the borders remain closed. ASA had faced challenges due to the lockdown regulations preventing athletes from training.

He updated the Committee on the Caster Semenya case, and said that she was not part of the SA Olympic team because the court case was still ongoing. He commended the Committee for its support on the case. He said Sweden and the Human Rights Commission had supported Semenya’s case.

He thanked the Minister and the DSAC for the relief fund to assist its athletes. He said that for athletes to be part of Team SA, the athletes had to qualify according to the criteria of the IOC.   

Discussion
Mr Mhlongo expressed his support of Caster Semenya, and referred to the motion to Parliament and a letter from the Chairperson of the Committee sent to Parliament to support her.

He said that the election of SASCOC board members had not been free and fair, and that the Minister of the DSAC had not said anything about the election process. As an example, he said that in the previous engagements, Mr Qondisa Ngwenya had indicated that he wanted to be a journalist, but was currently a board member. He asked if Mr Ngwenya was still a consultant for SASCOC, and what it was doing about his abuse of car privileges and the matter of irregular expenditure. He asked SASCOC why the money from the National Lotteries Commission was being channeled through the sports trust, and how much money it was. He then asked for the figures relating to all the sponsorships that SASCOC had received. He wanted to know when SASCOC would start the Operation Excellence (OPEX) programme again, and if the funding excluded the newly identified posts of the board members.

What were the criteria for the members of the Zulman committee? When would it implement the recommendations of the Zulman committee, because the committee had indicated that there must be top sides in all sporting codes. He noted that ASA was not part of the Zulman committee.

He asked SASCOC why the budgets for the Olympic and Paralympic games were separated. He questioned the plan of ASA to take 219 athletes to Tokyo. Its target for medals was very low, so why were so many athletes eing sent to the Olympics. He requested that ASA provide the Committee with the athlete’s book and share its policies in order for the Committee to have a better understanding of its policies. 

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) also expressed his support for the Caster Semenya case. He commented that local government elections were two months after the Olympics, and raised concerns as to how the Olympics would be prioritised. He asked SASCOC if it had considered introducing African indigenous sporting codes, such as stick fighting, and why it placed more emphasis on other countries’ sporting codes than South Africa’s sporting codes. He raised concern about the budget allocation towards soccer and hockey. Soccer was the biggest sport in SA, and he asked why hockey, which was prevalent in elite schools, had more funding than soccer. He asked if boxing was part of the Olympics. He requested that SASCOC indicate in writing all the names of officials and athletes and each one’s role before 26 March.

Ms V Van Dyk (DA) noted that schools may not compete against each other, but could have intra-school competitions. ASA states that an athlete must be part of a registered athletics club to represent SA, but those from disadvantaged backgrounds and rural areas could not afford to be registered with a club. This meant that these athletes would be excluded, because it took time and money to register with a club. Schools that were disadvantaged did not have money and information to register a club, and depended on South Africa Schools Athletics (SASA). She asked ASA what it would do to ensure that athletes that were not with a club would be given the opportunity to compete to represent SA. She asked if only athletes that were with ASA would be able to compete in international competitions.

She asked ASA how it decided on the qualification times. She added that SASCOC planned to take its largest team in history to the Olympics, and asked if this was an indication that qualification times had been lowered to accommodate more athletes. She also wanted to know what SASCOC had done to assist elite athletes and medal hopefuls during the difficult period of the Covid-19 lockdown.  

Mr C Sibisi (NFP) noted that SASCOC had indicated the team’s possible performance at the Olympics. He raised the point that across 31 sporting codes, SASCOC forecast that they would achieve medals in only seven sporting codes. What was it doing to encourage other sporting codes to improve their performance and win medals? It was not necessary to have 31 sporting codes if SASCOC was looking to achieve medals from only seven. He commented that if the soccer team was not meant to achieve anything, then why was SASCOC sending the team to the Olympics. The Olympics should not be seen as a learning curve for participants.

He thanked the President of ASA for updating the Committee on the Caster Semenya case. He raised concerns about the number of athletes and the number of youth participating. He requested that ASA do more to develop the youth and focus more on road running marathons.

Mr B Mamabolo (ANC) asked ASA if Caster Semenya could train for other events so that she could be included in the team. He asked SASCOC for progress on the preparations for the men’s under 23 soccer team, because other countries would send their best players to the Olympics. He requested that SASCOC engage with South African Football Association (SAFA) to improve the soccer team. Did SASCOC fund the under 23 team, or did SAFA? He wanted to know if the Olympics were allowing supporters in the venues, because then SA could have its supporters present. Did the athletes of ASA have to be vaccinated before the Olympics, because he was note aware of the protocols for Covid-19 in Tokyo?   

Mr D Joseph (DA) asked what programmes were in place to generate interest in SA for the Olympic Games. He supported the comments of other Members of the Committee on the development of sports among disadvantaged groups. As athletes arriving in Tokyo would have to isolate for two weeks, what were the additional costs, and were they part of the budget? The SASCOC presentation had stated that there were more athletes, but in the budget it was stated there were fewer teams. He wanted clarity on this issue.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) asked SASCOC why it recruited players from other countries to play in SA. The country had talented players at grass root level, and when they get injured, SASCOC did not want them. She raised concern that there were no sporting codes at schools that were disadvantaged and in rural areas. When would SASCOC go to rural areas to develop athletes, and when would it implement indigenous games of SA such as stick fighting? She asserted that SASOC contributed to the problem of youth abusing drugs, because it did not involve youth in sports. Why did it recruit coaches from abroad and not from rural areas in SA, because there was no development in rural areas? She expressed her support for Caster Semenya.

Ms V Malomane (ANC) referred to the number of women in the Olympic teams, and asked what SASCOC was doing to promote women in sports and how much money was allocated for this initiative. She noted that SASCOC encouraged federations to promote different sporting codes in townships. She asked what was being done in the townships.

She asked ASA what it was doing to ensure the athletes who qualified for the Olympics were clean of any illegal substances. As it would be sending a large team, would the number of medals increase? She also asked if the medical team had been hired through a fair process.

The Chairperson asked SASCOC the amount of sponsorship it had received from the NLC. She commented that the budget of DSAC had been reduced, and asked SASCO if it thought the country could afford to send such a big team, considering the state of the economy. She referred to the presentation, and said that in the different sporting codes for women that there were no signs of transformation. 39% of women in the teams were black, and 60% were white. She asked what SASCOC was doing to address the matter and encourage other federations to transform teams. Why did SASCOC still have an acting CEO.?

SASCOC response
Mr Barry Hendricks, President, SASCOC, replied that due to the policy of the NLC, it allocates only R5 million every year to SASCOC. SASCOC then uses the funds according to the contract agreement with the NLC, and these funds were not for the preparations for the Olympics. This was the reason why SASCOC looked for other sponsorships for the Olympics. The reason why SASCOC used the Sports Trust was because it needed to have outsourced funding from institutions that did not have the same policy as the NLC. SASCOC wanted the contract and policy of the NLC to change, and was willing to work with the NLC on the matter.

In reply to the question about the sponsors of SASCOC, he said it could not disclose any information about the sponsors. SASCOC was in the process of signing its contracts with the sponsors, and the sponsors requested secrecy so that there could be a proper launch of the sponsorships. There were businesses that would be sponsoring Team SA to the Olympics. The Committee would receive all the information about the sponsorships after the contracts had been signed.
 
He said SASCOC’s constitution had a 70 years of age cut-off date for officials. He committed to send the Committee the Zulman recommendation report, because there had been engagements with SASCOC, the DSAC and the Ministry.

Regarding team selection, in 2019 SASCOC had decided to ease the selection criteria for teams in order for more people to have access to international competition. It was important that SASCOC adhere to the IOC and IPC criteria to allow people to have access to international competitions.

He replied to the comments that due to the current Covid-19 pandemic and the state of the economy, the team should be reduced, and indicated that the numbers in the presentation had not yet been finalised.

Minister’s comments

Mr Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, said that the DSAC had engaged with SASCOC on the preparations of the Olympics. The Department had given its inputs and raised its concerns about the preparations. He replied to the question of Mr Mhlongo about the fairness of the SASCOC elections, saying that organisations had their own constitutions. SASCOC was an organisation, and the DSAC would involve itself only in matters where it did not follow its constitution. SASCOC decided who its board members were, and he would not be involved in the matter arising.

Mr Mhlongo raised a point of order, and said he had not asked the Minister to comment on who SASCOC had elected, because it was not the Committee’s business. He had questioned the fairness of the board election process.

The Chairperson requested that Mr Mhlongo allow the Minister to finish, and to comment afterwards.  

The Minister reiterated that he would get involved in a matter only where the organisation had violated its own constitution and not followed the procedures that governed it.

He replied to the issue of indigenous games, and said that every year there was a programme to promote indigenous games. The DSAC invested money into these programmes and was still continuing to do so, so that society realised their importance.  He suggested that indigenous games would reach the international level.

Referring to the need for sporting grounds in rural areas, he said that every year the DSAC supplied municipalities with a grant to build stadiums and grounds. It was compelled by law to give grants to municipalities. However, it found that in some cases a municipality would not use the grant for its intended purposes. By law, the Department could not do anything about this matter. The DSAC had engaged with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) so that facilities could be built.

He replied to the issue of school sports, and said schools were keen on the development of sporting activities. However, schools that did not have sports were unlikely to produce athletes who would perform at the higher levels. The DSAC had engaged with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to look at the effectiveness of school sports. These engagements had also looked at how school sports would improve other sporting endeavours.

Follow-up discussion
Mr Mhlongo asked the Minister when the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the DSAC and the DBE would be finalised. The MOU had been in progress for a few years, and wanted to know what the progress of its implementation was. He returned to the election of SASCOC board members, and asked the Minister if it had been fair.

Ms Khawula said that municipalities were doing nothing, and that the Minister should do a follow-up on the matter. The DSAC was failing, and that the Minister should be aware of this and address the issues.

The Minister replied to Mr Mhlongo’s question on the MOU, and said it had been signed. It was good to identify a programme, but the issue was how the programme would be used. The DSAC and DBE had tasked its officials to determine if the programme was effective. If it was not effective, they would investigate why it was not effective and address the matter.

He replied to Mr Mhlongo’s question on the fairness of elections, asking what the basis of his question was and what part of the process was not correct. He could not respond to the issue if he did not have clarity on the matter. What part of the governance did he feel had not been followed in the election?

He accepted the point of Ms Khawula, and agreed that municipalities were doing nothing. When things went wrong in the sporting sector, the DSAC was held responsible. He added that it was a systemic issue when municipalities did not pay their officials or did not use their funds for the intended purposes. The DSAC was at a national level and municipalities were at grass roots --closer to the people. He added that the DSAC was engaging with COGTA to tackle the municipality issue.

Mr Mhlongo replied to the Minister’s question on the fairness of the election, saying that Mr Ngwenya was a journalist and worked with SASCOC as a consultant. This indicated that the election of SASCOC’s board members was not fair. The chairperson had not been present at the election, and the facilitator of the election had not been fair. The election of the president was also questionable. He said that if the Minister checked the minutes of previous meetings, he was not the only Committee Member who had raised the issue about corporate governance. He again asked the Minister what his views were about the fairness of the election.

The Minister said that he was aware of the issues raised by Mr Mhlongo, except the matter about the journalist being a board member. He said that SASCOC was present and to be fair, he would allow SASCOC to respond. He said that after the conference, SASCOC had faced systemic issues because a point raised by one member had been that SASCOC was not present in the soccer sporting code in terms of leadership. He said that DSAC and the Committee were responsible for ensuring that there were no gaps in the National Sport and Recreation Act. He requested SASCOC to respond to the issues raised by the Committee.

The Chairperson agreed with the standpoint of Mr Mhlongo, and said that the Committee viewed the election process of SASSCOC board members as not being fair. She did not intend to undermine his question, but because of the more pressing matters of the Olympics, the meeting needed to continue.
 
SASCOC’s responses
Mr Hendricks replied to the question about separating the budgets of the Olympic and Paralympic teams, saying it was a management strategy from SASCOC to identify all the different aspects of the two teams.

He said that the ASA would send its policies and the athlete book to the Committee.

The difference in the budgets for hockey and soccer was because there were two teams for hockey and only one for soccer. Boxing was not included -- because of the pandemic there was only one qualifier, and boxing teams did not qualify.

He said that SASCOC did not want to give the list of who had qualified because it did not want raise the expectations of athletes and managers. SASCOC needed to take the Covid-19 restrictions and the economy into consideration and engage with all the federations to resolve these issues. Athletes who were chosen were those who qualified according to the qualification criteria of the IOC and IPC.

He replied to the question about assisting athletes during the lockdown, and said that the IOC and another federation had provided funding. Athletes were identified and provided with funding to prepare for the Olympics.

Regarding the Olympic team’s medal achievement prospects, he said that the Olympics was not just about achieving medals. Achieving medals was an important part, but they tried to encourage the youth to be part of major events as part of their development. SASCOC had to consider to development of youth for future Olympics and for the teams to achieve more medals.

The IOC would not force any athlete to be vaccinated. It had indicated that it would fund Team SA to be vaccinated. SASCOC would be working with the Covid-19 task team and the Minister to address the matter, and to engage with all relevant authorities to have Team SA vaccinated.

To generate interest in SA for the Olympics, SASCOC had a programme in place. The SABC and SuperSport would be involved in the programme. The programme would include lighting up Table Mountain with the colour purple to create awareness for the Paralympics.

He replied to Mr Joseph’s issue about the contradictory statement that there was a large number of teams, but the budget indicated the number was dropping. Due to other sponsorships of clothing, the NLC budget would be reduced and not include funding for clothing.

He conceded that SASCOC was currently not doing a lot to promote women in sports. He said SASCOC had established a women’s commission which would develop a plan to promote women in sports.
 
It was engagements with national federations that had determined SASCOC’s medal expectations for the Olympics.

The SASCOC policy regarding the support staff selection had changed. There had to be 50% women on the support staff and demographic considerations, and SASCOC was working with the relevant commissions to achieve this.

He replied to the question about how much was the NLC funding SASCOC, and said that SASCOC had submitted all the reports to the Committee on the NLC funding.
 
SASCOC was not satisfied about its transformation percentage, and was working with its commissions to increase transformation in the organisation. It could only work with its federations and the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on the matter.

He replied to the Chairperson’s question about SASCOC having an acting CEO, and said that at the previous board meeting that it was made a matter of urgency that it appoints a full-time CEO, and SASCOC was busy implementing this.

Mr Anant Singh, Board Member, SASCOC, said that the IOC’s objective was to develop sport. Every year, it funded SASCOC R25 million to create heroes and develop athletes to further their careers in sports. He made an example of a road runner who was unknown to many people who became a hero overnight by winning a gold medal. He said that the main objective of the Tokyo Olympics was to develop SA athletes for the next major Olympics in Dakar.

Follow-up discussion
Ms Malomane said that SACOC had not answered her questions. She asked how it and other federations planned to encourage different sport codes in the townships, because it was only soccer and athletics that were prevalent in those areas.

Mr M Seabi (ANC) commented that the Covid-19 pandemic had affected everyone, and business at SASCOC could not be as usual. He said the total South African team at the 2016 Olympics had been 138, and it was expecting to send 375 athletes to Tokyo. He claimed that SASCOC was not sensitive and not aware of the pandemic. SASCOC planned to spend a total of more than R77 million, but expected to achieve only 32 medals. Although SASCOC did not need to disclose the names of the sponsors, he wanted to know what the expectations of the sponsors for the Olympics were. This was a serious matter, because the Olympic team would represent SA. He made reference to how countries like Kenya and Ethiopia out-performed SA. Since 1992, it had been a trend for SA to increase its number of teams, but not to achieve a lot of medals. SASCOC was raising the expectations of SA and must face reality, because there had been the added setback of the pandemic. SASCOC was sending too much management with the athletes, and this was using funds the country did not have. The budgeted need to be reorganised to prioritise more important matters, because the Department of Health had indicated that there would be a third wave of Covid-19. He added that SASCOC had not indicated if Japan would accept SA athletes, because other countries were not allowing visitors from SA. 

Mr Mhlongo raised the issue of Mr Ngwenya again, and asked if he was still SASCOC’s consultant. He added that SASCOC had not responded to his question about the NLC funding going through the Sports Trust. He asked when SASCOC would implement the recommendations of the Committee. He said the SASCOC President knew that the Committee viewed the elections as unfair. He asked what the new board members would do to address the outstanding issues raised by the Committee.

SASCOC’s responses

Mr Hendricks replied to Ms Malomane’s question about women in sport, saying that SASCOC had a programme in place. He requested that Ms Simelane elaborate more on the programme.

Ms Lwandile Simelane, Vice President of SA Hockey, said that that as an organisation, SASCOC did not do enough for women in sports. It needed to engage with its federations to develop and improve women’s participation and qualification standards. This was the programme that the gender commission of SASCOC wanted to implement. When dealing with this programme, SASCOC had looked at it from all aspects regarding representation, participation, leadership, infrastructure and policies.

Mr Hendricks replied to the question about the promotion of other sporting codes, and said that for the Olympics and Paralympics, the sporting codes were decided by the institutions in charge of the competitions. Although netball was a big sporting code in SA, it was not at the Olympics, and SASCOC adhered to the competition’s requirements. There were opportunities for the netball sporting code in other competitions, like the Commonwealth Games.

He said that the clothing sponsors were happy with the figures SASCOC had presented in its engagement with them. The issues raised by the Committee about Team SA was a national matter, and SASCOC would take them into account.

He replied to Mr Seabi that SASCOC had to be realistic and should not raise the expectations of SA. Regarding his concerns about the number of people being sent to Tokyo, he said that the role of management and support staff numbers was determined by the sporting codes’ requirements. If the number of athletes decreased, so would the number of management and support staff.

He said that Mr Ngwenya was not a consultant to SASCOC. He had followed the election procedures and had been nominated by the federations of SASCOC. He maintained that the election of SASCOC board members was fair. When Mr Ngwenya was a consultant, it was found that he had travelled using SASCOC’s vehicle. Mr Hendricks requested that the Committee allow him to review the decision taken by the board, because the board had deliberated about the issue. The SASCOC board would like to be transparent about the Mr Ngwenya matter.

He said SASCOC had given the Minister the Zulman report in order to implement the majority of it. The only outstanding issues from the report involved changing the NRA, which required the input of the colours board and judicial body. These were long term issues that needed to be addressed. The Zulman commission had been elected and consulted by every sporting code in SA.

Mr Mhlongo said his question about the NLC was not addressed. He asked SASCOC what the actual date was for the Minister to implement the report, because the deadline had expired.

Ms Van Dyk said that her questions had not been answered.

Mr Hendricks replied to Mr Mhlongo that SASCOC had engaged with the Minister to update him on current reports, including the Zulman report. If the Committee had requested earlier, SASCOC would have presented its updates on the Zulman report.

The Chairperson wanted SASCOC to answer every Member’s question, but due to time constraints the meeting had to proceed. She requested that SASCOC prepare itself for the next engagement with the Committee, to answer all the questions of the Members.

ASA’s response
Mr Skhosana said that ASA’s concerns were aligned with her concerns. The Minister had indicated that the MOU between the DBE and the DSAC would be implemented. When ASA as a federation went to schools, there was conflict between it and the DBE about who was in charge of sports at schools.

He replied to Ms Van Dyk’s question on registered clubs, and said that the DSAC was running a programme to address this. The club development programme (CDP) helped to develop different sporting codes in townships and rural areas. Athletes could still compete at a national and international level, even if the athlete was not with a registered club. The Department helped ASA to identify children and coaches who were excelling. There was collaboration between ASA and the DBE, and ASA hoped that cooperation between the two would run smoothly. He said that when clubs and children participated at provincial and national level, they were given a temporary licence to participate because it was part of the rules to be registered. ASA kept the details of the clubs and children so that ASA did not lose track of them.

He said that SASA had an interim commission that dealt with schools’ athletics in SA. The interim commission was organising schools, but adhering to Covid-19 protocols. The DBE had implemented different Covid-19 protocols to those given by the DSAC. There would be an engagement between the DBE and DSAC joint national task teams that talk to all national federations about issues that affect them. The national federations were the drivers of development of sports in SA, and the founders of all school sports.

He replied to the question about qualification times. He said they remained the same -- if one was a junior boy at school who did the 100m in 10.3 seconds, the junior was allowed to compete. He said that all school competitions at all levels were dealt with by ASA. Because of the DBE, ASA was getting a lot of school principals who wanted to be registered with ASA in the provinces. They did not want to wait for the DBE, because 16 to 20-year-olds would be going to the championships in Kenya this year. Every school that had participated in competitions before wanted to be part of the mainstream so that the school could be selected by ASA.

He noted that that Mr Sibisi had requested ASA to do more and prioritise the youth and road running. He replied that SA was ranked sixth in the world, and had aimed to be ranked third in last year’s championships, but these had been postponed. ASA still aimed for SA to be ranked in the top three. In 2017, SA had become ranked number one in the youth category, which indicated that youths and juniors were its strengths. SA was very good in road marathons, because a lot of team and individuals received prizes for the ultra-marathons and half marathons. SA was one of the five countries that were leading the world in the road marathon department.

He requested that Members of the Committee contact ASA for the details of ASA’s provincial or local officials, so that they could engage with the officials.

He commented on the Caster Semenya issue, and said that Caster had trained for the 200 metres last year but had said it would be difficult. She was preparing to qualify for the 5 000 metres.

Ms Khawula said that ASA had not responded to her question about why it employed coaches from abroad.

Mr Skhosana replied that ASA coaches came from different areas in SA, and ASA was not like other federations which required coaches from abroad to coach their teams.

Mr Hendricks said that the majority of coaches were from SA, and Members should not take into account the number of international coaches in the professional soccer leagues in SA. The number of internationals was not a lot, because a lot of South Africans were coaching SA teams, like Desiree Ellis.

Ms Khawula wanted ASA to respond to the question about indigenous games.

Mr Skhosana agreed with the concerns of Ms Khawula. He was from KZN and had completed the initiation process to become a man. On the virtual platform, he showed Members his shield. ASA supported the implementation of indigenous games.

On the issue of banned substances, he said there were systems in place to test each athlete, and there were programmes that educated athletes about banned substances.

Mr Sibisi asked ASA who was in charge of school athletics -- was it ASA or the DBE, because it was confusing and was a serious issue?

The Chairperson said the Committee had engaged in a joint meeting which had included the DBE. It had to ensure that the relative Departments implemented the MOU. The MOU process had started years ago, before the merger of sports, arts and culture.

She urged SASCOC to take the necessary precautions for the Olympics, because the Covid-19 virus was killing people.

DSAC comments
 

Ms Sumayya Khan, Deputy Director General (DDG), DSAC, referred to the MOU issue, and said that the DSAC would submit a report to the Committee about what aspects of the MOU had and had not been implemented. The Minister had indicated that the DSAC had engaged with the DBE on the matter. The MOU dealt with issues of sports and also with issues of arts and culture, which was challenging.

Regarding Mr Sibisi’s question about school sports, she said that the federations must take responsibility for this. Schools sports were the basis for the development of sport. The service-level agreements (SLAs) that were signed by the DSAC and federations for funding indicated that there must be an allocated amount of funding for school sports. The structures of the federations must represent school sports. There was a regulation that identified sports bodies, and the DSAC could not work outside the regulations. It was the responsibility of the recognised federations to deal with school sports.

Closure

The Chairperson thanked the DDG for the information about the MOU, and said the DSAC must submit a report on the update of the MOU. She said it was up to the DSAC, the Committee and the federations to improve and transform sports in SA.

The meeting was adjourned.
     

 

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