Softball SA briefing

Sports, Arts and Culture

08 March 2022
Chairperson: Ms N Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee was given an overview by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) on Softball South Africa (SSA) on its governance and financial support, followed by Softball South Africa reporting in detail on its financial report, township and rural development programmes, governance and related matters.

Questions posed by the Committee dealt with the developing of infrastructure for softball stadiums and clubs; its safeguarding policies and progress in transformation. Members asked for more clarity on its financial statements; where stadiums are being build and in what areas and they emphasized the importance of building infrastructure in township and rural areas, not just in urban areas. Members emphasized the importance of school sports to encourage children to stay off the streets and encourage then to participate. Gender-based violence was raised and SSA was asked if such incidents had been reported to it. Members wanted clarity why the federation has outstanding financial statements and requested their submission to DSAC and the Committee. Transformation within SSA and its structures was a topic that many of the Committee members were interested in, asking if SSA takes this matter seriously. DSAC confirmed that the Softball SA profile represents a greater percentage of black African people participating. The Committee commended SSA for the progress it has made and it encouraged it to address the matters raised by it.

Meeting report

Softball South Africa: Overview by Department of Sports, Arts and Culture
Ms Sumayya Khan, Deputy Director General: Recreation Development and Sport Promotion, took the Committee through an overview of Softball SA.

Ms Khan discussed various points about governance, support, financial support, the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) and SSA and highlights included:
• SSA has a clear shortcoming of black women representation in the National Team.
• SSA used the COVID-19 period to stabilize governance related issues.
• DSAC gave Softball SA R4.5 million worth of financial support for 2021/22.
• SSA has made progress in transformation but there is still room for improvement.
• It do not have any accredited coaches.

Softball SA Report
Mr Mashilo Matsetela, Softball SA President, took the Committee through its financial report, township and rural development programmes, governance and related matters. He highlighted the progress SSA has made in its financial reports, development and transformation:
• It has managed to include more women into its structures and it has managed to develop and build more clubs in rural and township areas.
• Transformation and infrastructure development is still an ongoing process but it has indeed progressed.
• South Africa’s softball teams have grown and that it is going to represent the country and the continent in the World Cup in Argentina.
• There are no permanent employees and it is all volunteer work but it would like to change that in the future.
• He is proud of the progress the federation has made and it hopes to keep up with its good work.
See document for details

Discussion
Before the discussion, Softball SA introduced tits delegation present in the meeting. All Members welcomed the presentations from both DSAC and SSA.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) raised a concern with the SSA developmental plan and developmental budget. The presentation was not convincing enough to show that there was in fact development. The stadiums are not in good condition and asked where the stadiums are located. He asked what the expenses are for building a stadium and who subsidizes the process? He asked where the stadium in Soweto is?

He asked if Softball SA has access to schools because school sports is important. If so, which schools it has contacted, especially in township and rural areas?

Mr Mhlongo said transformation is not having just a few women represented within a body but that transformation is holistic – there must be diversity. He does not view the Softball SA club as being diverse enough.

On budget allocation, he pointed out that the club did not receive any funding between 2017 and 2018 as no documentation and the required plans were submitted and he asked for reasons.

Mr Mhlongo asked if SSA has any safeguarding policies with regards to Gender-Based Violence (GBV). He asked for it to share these policies with the Committee. He asked if SSA has ever received any allegations against coaches or administrators about GBV and what it has done to address these claims or allegations? Are there any GBV NGOs that SSA is working with?

He observed that, in his view, there is no developmental sport, especially in townships and rural areas. Young people need to be exposed to role models so that encourages them to want to get involved in sports. He said that there are no role models in softball for young people to look up to.

He wanted more clarity on how DSAC is managing softball in townships and if it has access to schools.

Lastly, he asked about who the sponsors are and how much these sponsors have given to SSA.

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) noted that the documents have been drawn up by PCS Gauteng. He asked who PCS Gauteng is? There is no name present under the signature. He noted management and consulting services on the one document and asked if SSA hired this entity to manage its financial accounts and to audit its books?

He asked how it is possible for an organization that was created for women is overtaken by men?

He pointed out that the documents stated that SSA has been exempted from income tax and that it has been approved as a public benefit organization (PBO). He wanted clarity on under which public benefit activity it falls. If it is sport, he asked for proof of this matter. He asked why it is looking for sponsors if it is a PBO.

Another point is that if it is not getting paid, its expenses cannot exceed a certain amount, if it is only receiving donations. If it is a PBO that means it cannot compete in the market place with profit making entities. He asked why then it is competing for profit? Has SSA applied to SARS to be tax exempt to clarify that it is indeed a PBO?

He asked for clarity on the phrases ‘black’ and ‘generic black’ used in the presentation.

Lastly, he pointed out that the federation has more than 50% of its flights as international and he asked to where it is travelling.

Ms R Adams (ANC) noted that Softball SA as a federation had not met with a parliamentary committee in the Fourth, Fifth or Sixth Parliament. The developmental and transformational challenges that are faced in sport are due to dysfunction in the school sports system. She asked if the federation has attempted to create partnerships with schools to introduce softball as a sport at school level.

She pointed to the demographic profile on slide 7 and noted that the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga have the fewest number of softball clubs. She asked what the cost of the lowest rate is and what the federation intends to do to assist provinces in establishing clubs.

She asked in which provinces are the townships and rural areas developments as mentioned in the presentation.

She observed that Softball SA was under administration between 2012 and 2015. She asked what the cause was of it being under administration by SASCOC.

Under the outcomes of the audits: 9 provinces had to undergo audits, only 3 provinces were audited. She asked if these provinces were registered with the federation without a constitution? She asked if SSA supports these provinces financially? How are the finances being handle and does the federation think that the finances are being handled positively? She asked what the relationship status is of SSA and the provinces who are involved, what its relationship with provinces’ school departments are, how the federation relates to these provinces and what the reasons are for the ‘no relationship’ status?

Mr J Mamabolo (ANC) complimented the work of SSA, the president of the federation and the executives. He pointed out that the work and progress of SSA cannot just be criticized without complimenting its achievements. He emphasized the importance of school sport to help keep children off the street and that the federation must keep up with the good work it is doing.

Ms V van Dyk (DA) asked why SSA had the biggest expenditure during the COVID-19 years?

Secondly, she asked how many girls were included at grassroots level and introduced to the sport in general per province. She emphasized the importance of creating opportunities when girls are still young and to ensure that it is included in the system as girls and women are often times excluded. She asked for an update on the transformation of women in softball since 1996 to now.

She asked if the federation could reflect on its safeguarding policies as SASCOC dated a three-month period to establish the policies. She asked how serious the federation is about safeguarding. Were there any incidents and where are victims able to file a complaint?

Lastly, she asked if there were any accredited coaches and if not, why?

Mr M Zondi (ANC) had one comment on transformation. He was satisfied with the transformation that has been made in its demographic representation. He hopes that the federation has the capacity for more transformation. Transformation issues are because of capacity.

He highlighted two challenges that he had. The first was about the capacity for programmes that it is rolling out. He noticed that there are two provinces without any clubs – Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN). Clubs and stadiums need to be built outside urban areas, in township and rural areas across all provinces. He suggested that there needs to be an international stadium in each province.

Mr C Sibisi (NFP) acknowledged the comments made by members of the Committee. He pointed out that KZN has 11 rural districts and one urban area (Durban). Softball is only played as a school sport in Pinetown and only partially at Umlazi - he knows this as he comes from a background in school sport. He asked what the federation’s long-term development plan is and if it will address the development of rural districts along with the municipalities?

He stated that is a shame that the community is being led mainly by Africans, but development is lagging. He acknowledged that the federation is built on volunteer work but he asked what the federation’s long-term plan is to ensure that its future is all inclusive. It is very unfortunate that people in rural areas are undermined and that the federation behaves as if it is not part of South Africa. He emphasized the fact that rural areas are being overlooked by private schools. He asked what the federation will do to develop softball in other areas, as the Department has a budget to develop stadiums in rural areas to ensure both urban and rural areas are included in school sport.

Ms V Malomane (ANC) asked for clarity on the 2021/22 budget. The presentation said the main focus was to provide access to young boys and girls but this priority was not addressed by stating how many boys and girls have been developed.

She asked when the outcomes of the outstanding audits can be expected.

One focus of SSA is to organize and run tournaments and she asked how many tournaments have been organized at all levels.

SSA stated that it has plans to address the challenges that it faces. She asked it to forward the plans that it has to the Committee.

Mr D Joseph (DA) commended DSAC for its engagement with SSA.

He asked Ms Khan about the low percentage of black women and asked how DSAC planned to address this.

He mentioned that there is in fact no permanent employees. He asked if there was ever at some point any senior staff and what happened to them if they were in fact there? The DDG commented that there are no permanent employees but who is doing all the work then?

He asked how many people were in the DSAC Finance team. He wanted clarity on the figures in the presentation for R4.5 million financial support for 2021/22. He asked if this was correct.

He supported the comment about accredited coaches. He asked how this impacted SSA.

He mentioned diversity and wanted clarity on this matter.

He commended Softball SA for the improvements it has made. He asked when the improvements were done, prior to the COVID-19 years (2020/2021) or during the COVID-19 years?

SSA stated that 75% of its budget went to accommodation, meals and transport and he requested a separate breakdown of each of these expenses, including the 4% in the ‘Other’ category.

He noted again that improvements have been made but that elected leadership still remained an issue, particularly in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.

He supported the other members on its questions about outstanding information on audits and annual reports of the specified years.

Lastly, he pointed out that the school sports system still remains dysfunctional, but that this is evident across other sports as well.

The Chairperson said that even though it has no sponsors and no staff, along with audit reports, the Committee is encouraging new leadership to address the gaps within SSA. She noted that there was an appeal from the SSA leadership and the Committee encouraged it to apply so that the National Sports Council (NSC) could assist and fund it. It needed to develop and grow as a federation to open up more opportunities for it in the future.

She highlighted again that the improvements have not gone unnoticed but the challenges identified need to be addressed.

Softball SA response
Mr Matsetela welcomed the questions and comments by the Committee and the federation will go forward to address the issues that have been identified by Members.

He brought to the Committee’s attention that SSA is a developmental organization and that softball is an amateur sport and not a professional sport, and that it is different from the major sports, such as cricket and rugby.

Firstly, the federation will invite the Committee members to its future events, for it to be able to witness what it doeses so they can see for themselves what is happening at the ground level to be able to answers some of their questions

He indicated that there are two clubs in Soweto and that it is working with an international NGO (a boys club) and that it is developing kids there (boys and girls).

There is going to be a tournament in Soweto, honouring the legends in softball and that he will invite the Members to the tournament.

He brought to their attention that its strategy of development of softball is anchored in the school sport system and softball is played in schools nationally. They will be having a national school championship from 19 to 21 March and invitations will be forwarded to Committee members.

He indicated that softball is played in schools nationally and that they have a national school structure, which is represented as associate members as part of the SSA executive committee.

He reminded the Committee that teams were selected provincially and that these teams will play in the upcoming tournament from 19 21 March.

SSA has made a lot of progress with diversity and that it has appropriate policies in place to manage the transformation.

Softball SA does have a national team (Under 23 Men’s team) who will represent South Africa and Africa at the World Cup in Argentina. There will be Senior Women African Qualifiers and he is hopeful that South Africa will be able to represent the country again.

As for the 2021/22 financial statements, it does have draft financial statements. However, its financial year is only ending in March and thereafter it will be going through an audit. Only after the audit has been done will it be able to supply the Committee and other stakeholders with the financial statements.

He clarified that PCS Gauteng is the name of the auditing firm that audits SSA books and does its financial statements. PCS has two offices, one in Gauteng and one in Cape Town. SSA’s head office is in Gauteng, therefore it use the PCS Gauteng branch.

He clarified what was meant by ‘Black’ and ‘Generic Black’ and stated that these terms are used by DSAC when it does the EPG Report, to check if the federation complies with its guidelines.

On the question of its flights and to where it is flying, he replied that it is attending events and sport gatherings and that it needed transport to these events. There are various upcoming events that it will need transport to, such as the World Cup in Argentina and New Zealand and the Women Qualifiers in Botswana.

He informed the Committee about the upcoming National Championships from 25 March to 2 April in Athlone, Cape Town and that invitations will be forwarded to Members.

Softball is played mainly in rural areas and the majority of the clubs are in the rural areas. Therefore, invitations will be forwarded to Members so that they can come see the developments and facilities in the rural and township areas. Together with government, it will continue to work and develop access to facilities and build stadiums.

Softball SA was under administration due to non-compliance with governance requirements. After the elections SSA concentrated heavily on the matter and they were happy that the governance matters were addressed and resolved.

He acknowledged that some audits are missing from a number of provinces and that it has a Monitoring and Compliance officer who deals with compliance. To date, SSA has only one or two provinces which still need to submit.

All the provincial structures have relationships with the provincial sports confederations. It has tertiary structures for universities and colleges and they have their own annual championships. It has another associate member, called the Masters Division. It recently had a Masters tournament last year and there will be one in Limpopo in September 2022. It is expecting many clubs to participate in the Masters Tournament.

On transformation in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng, Mr Matsetela acknowledged that it is a work in progress and it is busy trying to increase the number of clubs in the townships and rural areas in Gauteng. It is addressing the KZN matter. Softball is being played at university level in KZN and it will be attending the tournament again later this year. With regards to the schools, it is a challenge. It is a gap that has been identified in the past, but it is doing its best to address this.

It is hosting tournaments where boys and girls are being developed and are able to participate in tournaments where provincial teams are then selected. This allows the boys and girls to develop their skills to be able to progress to the Qualifiers to be able to compete for a place in the Under 18 World Cup.

Softball SA has safeguarding policies that are in line with the international softball confederation’s guidelines. He pointed out that it is a continuous process. There was an incident reported to it late last year about one of its national coaches, Eric Nicholls, who violated two players. It had in fact happened in 2016 when Mr Nicholls was not the national coach. The matter was followed up and investigated by SSA and Mr Nicholls was asked to step down. The victims reported the matter to the police in 2021 and the police investigated by it. During the investigation Mr Nicholls committed suicide and the investigation was not taken further. Other than that incident, no other incidents had been reported.

Mr Matsetela said that matters not addressed would be replied to in writing and the requested documentation would be submitted.

DSAC response
Ms Khan thanked Softball SA for the informative presentation. Softball SA replied in detail about its access to schools, and she added that softball is a priority code for school sports and it is one of the 16 priority sports and it is part of the national schools sports championships. It participates from grassroots level up to national school sports championships. Softball is one of the sports codes that has made a big effort to ensure that the school sport structures and participation are in place.

She addressed what is meant by ‘Black’ and ‘Generic Black’ which has been partly answered. The Transformation Charter or the EPG Report on Transformation identifies 19 sports codes that are a part of the EPG process. The Transformation Charter is there to ensure that all sports codes represent the demographics of the country; therefore a clearer understanding must be given in order to be all inclusive. That is why it refers to ‘Black African’ and ‘Generic Black’. ‘Generic Black’ is all-encompassing of black, coloured and Indian people and the Charter makes a clear distinction between ‘Black African’ and ‘Generic Black’.

DSAC has received many sports presentations on development and infrastructure but this is not its core responsibility. However, she acknowledged sport cannot be played and developed without the appropriate infrastructure. Hence the DSAC intervention has been through funding and it has started with softball for two reasons. There needs to be a home for softball because the sport has to be developed and the appropriate facilities need to be available to be able to host and play softball. Secondly, the reason for the stadium in Polokwane is for the sport to branch out to other provinces and areas outside the major metros – like tennis would have a home in Mahikeng. In doing so these areas are developed economically and it is contributing to the economic development of the country as well.

She acknowledged and emphasized that there is a dire need for sporting facilities in all sports codes. DSAC is in the process of addressing the need for facilities and it is working with municipalities. However, the Committee must be mindful of the IDP and softball will be encouraged to be a part of the infrastructure. DSAC requested that SSA has to submit its future development plans to it. Softball gets its income from many sources – DSAC is one of them. SSA gets income from other income sources such as memberships. The last report of 2020/21 on budget and funding will be made available. It has received funding for 2022/23 but she pointed out that it will not receive any funding from DSAC if it has not accounted for previous funding in terms of the Public Finance Management Act. Once its most recent financial audited statements have been made available and submitted to DSAC, only then will it be able to determine if SSA has used the previous money for the intended purposes.

She pointed out that the demographics have been represented and DSAC has reported that SSA had addressed and is still addressing diversity. The Softball SA profile represents a greater percentage of black African people where the rest of the other statistics are representative of White people and Generic Black people.

DSAC has made great efforts in the area of safeguarding and safeguarding policies because this matter has been raised in many other Committee meetings. Some sports codes have indicated safety risks to its athletes and administrators. There are safeguarding policies that SASCOC and the sports codes need to sign and agree to adhere to. Safeguarding is still in the process of being addressed. DSAC will ensure that SASCOC’s safeguarding policies are a prerequisite when financial and non-financial support is being provided.

In addition, DSAC has initiated safeguarding measures in the national school sports championships and this is being rolled out as a starting point to ensure that children are protected. A majority of children engage in the school sports sector and this includes a child safeguarding commission – a safety and security sub-commission when schools sports championships are held.

Each province is responsible and obligated to provide a safeguarding officer to monitor that athletes and learners are safeguarded during events. Prior to events, sports officers and monitors need to be briefed and a code of conduct is provided by DSAC. The African Union Sport Council has a safeguarding handbook that was made available to the DSAC recently. The person who assisted the AUSC in compiling the handbook will be coming to South Africa to brief the South African Sports Commission in a workshop.

Further questions
Mr Madlingozi stated that SSA president should answer all the questions by Members. He asked again PCS Gauteng is an accounting firm that did all the accounting for SSA but the person responsible is not visible on the document. Why is there no name? He wanted clarity if PCS Gauteng is an auditing firm and who the person is who is signing off on the documents.

He asked again if SSA is exempt from income tax and, if so, what the reasons are for that.

Ms Adams noted that there had been five appeals and asked the causes for these appeals.

Mr Mhlongo asked where the softball clubs in Soweto are. He observed that the stadiums are not up to standard from the pictures that were shown. He asked what it cost to build a stadium.

He asked if DSAC does oversight or monitors complaints that are raised about GBV. He asked what mechanisms DSAC has in place to address GBV issues and cases.

He asked how many schools are actively participating in softball and if SSA has access to schools. He asked for names of schools in Soweto and KZN.

Softball SA and DSAC responses
Mr Matsetela responded that he would send the names of the schools to the Committee.

He acknowledged that the stadiums in the pictures are not up to standard but that the Committee needs to be reminded that the facilities belong to the various municipalities and it is the municipality’s responsibility to look after the sporting grounds.

He stated that SSA is exempt from paying income tax as it is a non-profit organisation( NPO) and that is its current status.

He replied that there is a name under the signature on the PCS Gauteng document if one looks closely.

The Chairperson asked again what the cost of a stadium is.

Mr Matsetela pointed out that the Polokwane cost estimation was about R89 million and that the cost of other stadiums differs from one province/place to another according to the size of the stadiums. A normal softball pitch costs more or less R5 million.

Ms Khan introduced the DSAC Chief Director dealing with Federation Support to guide the Committee through the mechanisms that DSAC has to track the federations and SASCOC.

Mr Simphiwe Mcube, DSAC Chief Director: Federation Support, addressed the oversight on GBV matters with SASCOC in particular. On a quarterly basis, DSAC receives a quarterly report from SASCOC and the report covers a wide range of matters, including matters of violence. SASCOC deals with these matters and afterwards provides an updated status of the complaints it received.

DSAC has noted that there is in fact a deficiency in the enforcement of the minimum requirements when it comes to policing and policy matters that relate to GBV. Moving forward DSAC wants to introduce compliance requirement into the federations on the policing of GBV. This will be extended to the Declaration of Procedures on what is to be followed by each federation if there are future incidents of GBV or related matters This means that each federation, instead of SASCOC, will be responsible for reporting an incident to DSAC. This will allow DSAC to collect statistics and information on how the incidents were dealt with. However, this has not been introduced into the system yet.

He commended the Committee for raising various questions because this helps DSAC to improve the mechanisms within the system to ensure that it address the gaps and collects information to better its system.

The Chairperson noted that there was still an outstanding question on the five appeals.

Mr Madlingozi interrupts the Chairperson and there is a bit of a quarrel.

Mr Madlingozi asked if SSA applied to SARS for tax exemption, when this was done and when the document was received.

Mr Matsetela addressed the income tax exemption and pointed out again that SSA is an NPO. Therefore, it does not pay income taxes like VAT and it is a general rule of SARS that it is not supposed to pay taxes.

He addressed the five appeals raised by Ms Adams. The Disciplinary Committee deals with appeals and this committee comprises three men and two women.

The Chairperson noted that the question was not answered and ask Ms Adams to ask her question again. Ms Adams asked what the cause of the appeals were.

The Chairperson asked if there were any outstanding appeals.

Mr Matsetela replied there were no outstanding appeals and that all appeals have been dealt with.

Mr Madlingzoi asked if SSA is a PBO and exempt from tax. If so, when was this done and when was the document received by the Commissioner.

The Chairperson stated that the question had been answered twice by Mr Matsetela.

Mr Matsetela pointed out that SSA has not applied for tax exemption as it has not been needed.

Ms Khan thanked the Committee for its inputs, as it helps it to improve DSAC mechanisms.

The Chairperson thanked the Committee members for their input. Thereafter, SSA thanked the Committee and stated that the federation will address the issues raised.

Committee Minutes
The Committee considered and adopted minutes of the previous meeting.

Mr Madlingozi asked for the outstanding information requested in the previous meeting and the Chairperson reminded the Committee Secretary to send this. He asked how long the minutes take to prepare and what the process is.

Ms Malomane stated that there is a three-day turnaround period to finalise the minutes for quality checking. Thereafter it will be submitted to the members.

The meeting was adjourned.

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