Table Tennis SA and Tennis SA on governance issues & development of the sport in schools and provinces; with Deputy Minister

Sports, Arts and Culture

15 November 2022
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Portfolio Committee convened in a virtual meeting to receive a presentation by the Department of  Sport, Arts and Culture on the performance of the South African Table Tennis Board (SATTB), and to be briefed on the board's preparations for the World Table Tennis Championships to be staged in Durban in May next year.

The Committee heard that the SATTB had hosted and won the Southern Region Table Tennis Qualification Championships in both the women's and men's events in the middle of this year. It has contributed to school sport in the fields of administration, technical support and capacity building. The Department continued to ensure that table tennis was part of the schools' sport programmes.

Members questioned the SATTB's efforts to create a racial and gender balance in its membership. The board responded that it was hampered by a lack of facilities, and was concerned for the safety of female members because of the need to play at venues when it was dark.

The Committee urged the SATTB to improve its promotional activities ahead of the world championships, as there was little awareness of the event. They also suggested that this was an ideal opportunity to create opportunities for the local business community and tourist amenities, and to boost the country's image on the continent. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Members of the Committee and officials from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) and Parliament. The agenda was tabled and adopted, and apologies were registered and mostly accepted.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) voiced his discontent at Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s continuous absence from portfolio meetings, and said that it was imperative for him to attend such meetings, as both the Director-General (DG) and Deputy Director-General (DDG) could not replace the presence of a Minister.

SA Table Tennis Board: Department of  Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) briefing

Mr Simphiwe Mncube, Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG), DSAC, presented a briefing on the South African Table Tennis Board (SATTB), focusing on their governance, financial report, achievements, infrastructure, school sport support and development programme-related matters. 

Referring to the entity's governance, he said that since the declaration of the COVID-19 restrictions, key SATTB projects and programmes were affected, as with most sporting codes. The annual general meeting (AGM) had been hosted on a virtual platform on 23 October 2021. Also, the new executive of the president, vice president and administration was elected. Lastly, for the 2022/23 financial year, the federation had scheduled a virtual AGM for 5 November 2022, to present the annual report, the president's report and the audited financial statements.

Financial support to the SATTB for the 2021/22 financial year was R1 450 000. The support was earmarked for the southern regional qualification championships, capacity building, schools sport and development. In the current financial year, it has not yet received the funding due to the partial submission of compliance documents. Lastly, at the 5 November AGM, the annual/audited financial statement and annual report were tabled.

Mr Mncube noted the following achievements made by the SATTB:

They participated in the African Senior Championship in Cameroon from 1 to 7 September 2021, and were ranked in sixth position.
The SATTB hosted and won the Southern Region Table Tennis Qualification Championships in both women's and men's events (30 June to 3 July 2022).
A contribution towards school sport -- administration, technical support and capacity building -- was made.
Currently, preparations are underway for hosting the 2023 World Table Tennis Championship in Durban from 21 to 29 May 2023, with expected participation of countries such as China, Japan, Nigeria, and other top performing and ranked nations.

On the point of school support to the SATTB, the Department had continued to ensure that table tennis was part of the schools' sport programme. Table tennis benefited from the DSAC through the provinces by providing equipment and attire to schools, and the training of educators and community volunteers linked with schools. Further, table tennis would be part of the Summer National School Sport Championship (SNSSC), which facilitates talent identification as it was used to select players for continental and international competitions. The SNSSC involves 252 athletes’ participating in the under-14 and under-18 categories. Lastly, table tennis also benefits as the SNSSC contributes to development of young technical officials and coaches by providing experience and exposure at the national level.

Lastly, the SATTB’s eminent persons group (EPG) report findings on the board/administration, club structures, national male and female senior and underage teams and the youth group, were as follows:

The board was transformed to 100% Black African on staff appointment.
The federation’s scorecard reflected a senior national male team demographic of 83% coloured/Indian, 17% black African and 0% white.
The male table tennis team pipeline was incomplete, reflecting only one underage u18 team with a reported 100% coloured/Indian composition.
As was the case with the male pipeline, the female table tennis team pipeline was incomplete, reflecting only one underage u18 team with a reported demographic of 100% Colored/Indian representation.

The SATTB's revised barometer forecasts reflect an unchanging black African forward projection against charter targets until 2030. While there were more statistics presented, the conclusion was that a 67% barometer target had been achieved.

[See presentation for further details]

SATTB annual report

Mr Joe Carrim, National Executive Committee President, SATTB, presented the annual report from 1 April 2021 to date (15 November 2022). The presentation covered information about national administration demographics, coaches, umpires and referees, competitions and international participation, school sport, membership and clubs, governance and the 2023 World Table Tennis Championships. He said the committees’ stakeholders were the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), the Commonwealth Table Tennis Federation (CTTF), the African Union Sport Council Region 5 Table Tennis Confederation (AUSC), the DSAC, the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) and Stag International.

The SATTB’s preparations had been seriously impacted by COVID-19, followed by devastating floods. Programmes were also affected, resulting in events having to be modified to suit the conditions at the time, such as return-to-play initiatives, virtual training programmes, virtual seminars, courses and workshops. One of the major challenges for the SATTB was access to facilities conducive to training, league matches and table tennis championships. The SATTB and its members were totally reliant on school classrooms and community centres that were not always available. When they were available, the cost of hiring them was exorbitant. With the recent floods in KZN and the Eastern Cape, community centres have been used as centres for flood victims.

[See presentation for further details]


Mr A Zondi (ANC) referred to the 65% gap in favour of men compared to women relating to the hiring and training of club coaches, umpires and referees, which were all positions that were dominated by men, and asked if there was any plan to promote and increase the presence of women in these positions. He asked about the racial and geographical composition of the training board, and if the process of identifying individuals to be trained was truly inclusive. He praised and acknowledged the fact that equal pay and prize money for both men and women was one of the main focuses for the equity and redress plan of the SATTB.

Lastly, he asked the board to give a synopsis of the marketing strategy they would use, considering the Table Tennis World Championship was taking place within the next six months, as the marketing they had done thus far had been ineffective and low cost -- Twitter and Facebook posts -- and not many people know about it, even Members of Parliament.

Ms D Sibiya (ANC) asked how the championship would benefit the continent beyond the domestic impact on just South Africa. Which local brands would the SATTB identity? Could they identify local brands they could promote as a socio-economic empowerment approach?

Mr D Joseph (DA) asked what infrastructure the SATTB had in the pipeline, if any. How had the board been able to survive without receiving funding between April to date? Was there a standard anti-harassment policy from the DSAC for divisions to use? Did the SATTB have any other partnerships? When would outstanding financial documents be made available? What was the best venue in South Africa for the SATTB to use as hosts -- was it perhaps Durban? He also requested more clarity on financial reports, and geographical areas of focus and for the board to provide more clarity on transformation towards its 2023 targets.

Mr Mhlongo asked if the SATTB was facing any challenges from the EPG report, and if they had a developmental plan in place to perhaps go online. Did the board face any challenges with access to schools and the use of their facilities? He also echoed Mr Zondi’s sentiments on the poor marketing of the upcoming World Cup.

Mr B Mamabolo (ANC) inquired about the teams participating in the World Cup, and whether they were from rural or suburban areas. In addition, how could assistance be given to expanding the scope of the targeted areas? Was the SATTB receiving sponsorship, perhaps from the government? He also asked about the possible impact of the World Cup on the continent.

The chairperson also enquired about the possible impact of the World Cup, and asked how the board was planning to leverage the World Cup to boost local businesses. Considering that international events usually resulted in an increase of tourists visiting the country, was the board perhaps working with the Department of Tourism (DoT) to strategise using social media platforms to promote South African arts and culture? Lastly, he asked the board to provide more information on their relationship with the University of Pretoria.

Ms R Adams (ANC) asked the board to provide the Committee with a broad overview of their revenue and expenses, and if they were receiving any support from the government. Further, Ms Adams asked why there was a skewed ratio of black participants, and if this ratio promoted social cohesion and a sense of nation-building. Her last question was an echo of the economic impact that the World Cup would have on South Africa.


Mr Carrim said that one of the challenges the committee faced with increasing the participation of women was safety, because most games were played at night. Secondly, access was a huge problem, because there was a very limited number of venues that could cater for table tennis events. Even schools were a no-go area, because they were private property -- even public schools. Further, although university’s had space, they had costly rates to use their facilities, so smaller venues were used. Convention centres were the best venues for larger events such as the upcoming World Cup, although they did not have sports halls. However, the committee did want to encourage more participation and access for table tennis.

On the point of equal pay for women and men and social cohesion, Mr Carrim gave an assurance that since the unification of table tennis in 1990, equal pay and non-racialism had always been promoted. As evidence, he stated that the four players who had competed in the Commonwealth Games were black. The racial composition of teams depended on their geography. For example, teams in Cape Town were dominated by coloureds, whereas black Africans dominated teams in KwaZulu-Natal, and so forth.  

The committee’s plan for marketing the world championships was to use the contender programme in January to find people qualified to boost media coverage of the event throughout January to May.

Mr Carrim said the committee expected the hosting of the World Cup to positively impact local businesses, as the committee was just waiting on the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) to confirm the list of suppliers. As such, within the competition at the ICC, there would be local vendors selling local arts and crafts. The food would also be provided by local food suppliers. Therefore, there would be opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to be represented. Moreover, the current budget of R70 million would be generated externally by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), and broadcasting of the Championships would be independent so, for example, Japan would bring their own crew to broadcast the event, meaning South Africa would benefit a good deal.

Mr Carrim said the committee would send their financial statements to the Portfolio Committee as requested. He assured Members that they always listed their stakeholders, regardless of the value of the contribution that they made. The funding the committee received from the National Lottery was used to promote their gender programme.

He also noted that the only issue arising from the EPG report was the medical aspect, which the committee was working on improving.

Mr Carrim also highlighted that the committee’s plan was based on where its membership came from. For poor communities, like rural areas in Limpopo for example, the committee would need support for access to buildings to train and create champions from the individuals in those areas.

Ms Audrina MacDonald, Vice President: Finance, SATTB committee, said the committee’s funding came from the Lotto, the Department of Sport, the sport federation and stimulus packages. It also received funding from other sources such as Stag International, for equipment they receive annually. Their own funding was about R166 000, compared to the support they received from sources such as the ITTF, the national lottery and the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), which was about R3.5 million.

Ms Genevieve Lentz, Vice President: Technical: SATTB committee, spoke about the basic referee’s course and why there were fewer black African women in referee positions. She said that due to financial limitations, the basic referee’s course was run online with a total of three virtual sessions that ran to about four to six hours each due to challenges such as loadshedding and connectivity issues. This created a challenge. It was also important to note that for the transition from umpire to referee, gender equity was considered, as there already were a few black female umpires.

Ms Lentz went on to explain that to become a referee, candidates must first be competent as umpires, as becoming a referee was a challenging and tough position to get into. She asserted that the committee was looking at focusing on training and monitoring international umpires to become referees for the next two years, by working nationally to gain points at tournaments.

Mr Thabang Tsheiso, Vice President of Competitions for the committee, added that he was just concerned about the support from the Department, as it was not enough.

Ms Hajera Kajee, Vice President: Administration, SATTB, pleaded for support to be given to the academy after the world cup, to fulfil the legacy that the SATTB wanted to leave. This legacy was one that catered, nurtured and supported young athletes, especially African athletes, to be trained and to compete in championships, regardless of their economic standing. She recalled an instance from about ten to 12 years ago, when support was received from the Lotto and the Department of Sport towards the participation of African athletes in the academy, which was in a high-performance centre in Pretoria. However, they had to return to school to complete their studies because they were students. Unfortunately, when they returned, the academy was closed for them, which was not the case for teams such as Banyana Banyana.

Mr Mncube said the committee had been in constant engagement through the president of the SATTB about the championships, so there was work in progress. He said he would delegate the response about the infrastructure projects for table tennis to Mr Lebogang Mogoera, Chief Director: Sport Infrastructure Support, DSAC.

On the harassment policy, Mr Mncube noted that the committee was working on a safeguarding policy for specific projects and programmes that the Department was managing -- for example, the school sport programme. For the rest of the federation, the committee’s approach was to use policies driven by SASCOC, and implementing that programme would be at the core. Thus, from the committee’s side, they expected each federation to have a safeguarding policy to deal with issues such as harassment, which most had and were currently utilising.

Mr Mncube also corrected an error made in the presentation. He said that the only document missing was the president’s annual report, but the audited financial statement had been sent out and received by the Department before 5 November. The SATTB had since submitted their annual report after their AGM on 5 November.

About the EPG report and questions on the committee’s 2030 targets, Mr Mncube reported that federations had been given the opportunity to review targets so that the EPG could look to see if they assisted in addressing the deficiencies. In addition, there had been a number of factors influencing the delay in handing over reports. For example, the EPG was independent of the Department, so by and large, they did their work supported by the secretariat which was led by a director, who in this case was the late Dr Basson. After his death, the committee faced challenges in finalising the report for the EPG to consider, so they had to consider alternative means of finalising it, which they had done. Mr Mncube assured the Committee that the report had been reviewed and finalised.

The Chairperson noted a contradiction made by Mr Tsheiso and Mr Mncube. Mr Tsheiso had stated that the entities had not met, whereas Mr Mncube had stated that there had been constant engagement between the Department, the president and the TTB.

Mr Mogoera responded on the expenditure on infrastructure for table tennis, and said there had not been an allocated project for it hence nothing had been built or allocated to table tennis. As Mr Mncube had stated, they utilised indoor facilities.

Dr Cynthia Khumalo, DDG: Arts, Culture Promotion and Development, DSAC, emphasised the previous speaker’s point, that an opportunity to engage with the president and his administration had been created to deal with issues relating to infrastructure. She acknowledged the contradiction noted by the chairperson. She said that if there had been engagement as Mr Mncube had stated, it was important to communicate it throughout the whole board to avoid confusion and contradictions.

Mr Carrim referred to the contradiction, and said that, as Mr Mncube had mentioned, there had been correspondence, with the last engagement being on 8 November, which the executive was a part of.

On infrastructure, he said that while government funding went into sport development, the issue of access remained because beyond certain hours, venues could not be utilised. It therefore did not make sense to spend millions on building facilities that could be used only until about 8 pm. Therefore, there was a need to look at the use and hours of access to facilities.

Mr Mhlongo asked about the relationship that the Department had with Tennis SA, and, if they do not have one, why this was the case.

Mr Mncube stated that there was no current relationship between table tennis and the tennis communities because the two sports were fundamentally different in their nature and how they were played.

Mr Carrim echoed Mr Mncube’s response.

Ms Nocawe Mafu, Deputy Minister (DM) of Sport, Arts and Culture, appreciated the questions and comments made, like those about the marketing of the World Cup and the transformation of table tennis to be more inclusive. It was important to note that transformation was an ongoing process that must be continuously given an effort to ensure that table tennis was accessible and represented South Africa.

She said the federation must consider the utilisation of facilities and access to schools at the district level.

She responded to Mr Tsheiso’s point that the Department had not yet had the opportunity to engage with members of the executive, such as herself. She said that if the committee wanted to discuss anything, they must feel free to set up a meeting with the executives so that they were aware of the committee’s interest to do so, as she wanted to assure them that table tennis was held in high regard. She did not want to perpetuate the undertone that table tennis was not cared for as much as other sports, like netball.

The Chairperson made closing comments about the importance of meetings, and praised the DM for availing herself for meeting with the Committee. Members were then thanked for their attendance and contributions.

The meeting was adjourned.

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