Tennis South Africa on governance issues and development of the sport, with Deputy Minister

Sports, Arts and Culture

02 December 2022
Chairperson: Ms R Adams (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary


The Portfolio Committee on Sport, Arts and Culture (the Committee) convened virtually for a briefing by Tennis South Africa (TSA) on governance issues and the development of the sport in schools and provinces. The Department on Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) presented on overview of the support to TSA over the 2021/22 reporting period. The Committee adopted the minutes dated 15 November and 25 November 2022.

The lack of tennis facilities in rural areas and in townships was of concern to the Committee because it was depriving young people from poor communities to participate in the sport. Municipalities are responsible for infrastructure support but it was found that municipalities lacked the interest to renew leases of maintenance service providers and find other users for tennis facilities. TSA undertook a number of interventions to grow the membership numbers and to increase the number of coaches offering tennis at schools. TSA was assisting coaches in rural areas and townships to establish their own academies. Tennis hubs had been introduced in development centres to address the lack of facilities at schools. Programmes to empower and train more coaches are funded by TSA.

The Committee welcomed the efforts by TSA and the Department to support the development of tennis in schools. The Ministry appreciated the strides to make tennis accessible to more people. TSA was however cautioned about reputational damage considering the widely reported challenges faced by the organisers of the Africa Cares Women’s exhibition event, which TSA did not sanction

Meeting report

Ms Zoleka Kula, Committee Secretariat, announced the apology from the Chairperson and facilitated the election of Ms R Adams as Acting Chairperson to preside over the meeting.

The Acting chairperson greeted everyone on the platform.

She noted the Deputy Minister’s presence on the platform.

She indicated that the Department will give an overview and then Tennis South Africa will present.

Apologies were noted.

The meeting agenda was adopted.

DCAS presentation
Ms Sumayya Khan, Acting DDG, Recreation and Sports Development, DSAC, remarked that the presentation of the Department would be focusing on areas of governance, financial and infrastructure development support to TSA. The R4.5 billion allocated for the 2021/22 financial year was earmarked for wheelchair tennis, capacity building of coaching staff, schools tennis and infrastructure development. At the time of reporting, the submission of legal documents for the 2022/23 financial year had not been received.

The construction of a world-class tennis precinct was approved for the Mahikeng Local Municipality in 2019. To date R70 300 000 had been allocated to the municipality for the building of the Mmabatho Tennis Facility. Since the 2016 financial year, 195 municipalities have benefitted from ring-fenced funds to construct or refurbish multi-purpose or combi courts which catered for five sports codes.

(See Presentation)

TSA presentation
Mr Gavin Crookes, President, TSA, welcomed the engagement and said it was a positive way to communicate. He complimented the Acting DDG for the excellent report. The information showed that TSA was in a good space. Board Members are selected on a rotating basis. The constitution had been updated. TSA adopted a conservative basis of accounting.

Mr Riad Davids, Vice-President, TSA, reported on the governance structure of TSA, consisting of 11 committees and 12 Board Members, which was compliant in terms of representation. Despite Covid-19, membership grew from 19 845 in 2019 to 32 292 in 2021.

Mr Crookes provided a brief financial overview. Accounting is done on a basis of cash receipts and payments. Transformation expenditure of R16 290 456 is estimated at 48% of total expenditure. The entity received an unqualified audit for the nineteenth consecutive year. TSA was working towards becoming a self-sustaining enterprise. Project 2050 is projected to create a world tour environment.

Mr Anthony Moruthane, Head, Commercial, Communication and Stakeholder Management, TSA, said the strategic focus was the Rising Star Programme which was launched in 2019. Hubs have been introduced in development centres due to the lack of facilities at schools. The Rainbow Kidz Programme is catering for younger children. The number of participants had doubled since the programme was launched.

Ms Bellinah Matshedisho, Wheelchair Tennis Representative, TSA, reported on the management of wheelchair tennis. The schools programme involved 24 schools nationally. South Africa is considered a global leader in wheelchair tennis development and has been assisting with the development of the sport in other countries on the continent. TSA has employed full-time coaches to offer tennis in schools.

The Head, Commercial, Communication and Stakeholder Management, TSA, explained that the purpose of the hubs was to develop tennis in schools. South Africa has about 500 active tennis players with 400 players from schools. TSA had no financial support from sponsors and was grateful for the support from the DSAC.

The Acting Chairperson appreciated the inclusion of schools in the TSA programmes. She invited Minister Nathi Mathetwa to make his opening remarks but due to connectivity problems, he was unable to do so. She then called on Deputy Minister Nocawe Mafu to make introductory remarks.

Deputy Minister Mafu indicated that she would be making her comments at the end of the discussion.

Mr B Mamabolo (ANC) asked what was being done to increase the number of tennis players in rural areas because he was no longer noticing tennis being played in rural provinces. He wanted to know if young people had representation on the Board and in the Executive Management team of TSA.

Ms V van Dyk (DA) was impressed with the development of wheelchair tennis. She wanted to know if the Northern Cape Hub is within reach of Namakwaland. She noted that most sports facilities are located in Kimberley which was not easy for poorer communities to access, because it is a nine-kilometre drive away from Namakwaland. She asked if TSA was supporting the Modderfontein woman who was stabbed sixteen times by a tennis coach. The coach is reportedly also selling drugs. She wanted to know if TSA was monitoring the prosecution of a tennis coach who is accused of having raped five girls in Pinetown. She asked when the Arthur Ashe stadium in Soweto would be reopened. Considering that the municipal manager was involved in the VBS scandal, she enquired if the DSAC was monitoring whether the money allocated to the municipality for infrastructure support, was spent in terms of the MMFA guidelines.

The Acting Chairperson suggested that Members should pose all their questions because there was not going to be an opportunity for the second round of questions.

Mr A Zondi (ANC) drew attention to recent comments made by the Minister about the development of sports infrastructure in rural areas and in townships. He enquired about the long-term plans for youth development in rural areas and in townships. He stated that TSA had the potential to create sustainable livelihoods. He asked how many black players are able to maintain sustainable income levels. He enquired about the sponsorship landscape in South Africa and the lack of diversity in revenue streams. He wanted to know what the challenges were in terms of supporting wheelchair tennis and how it was being addressed.

Mr D Joseph (DA) was very concerned about the gender-based violence incidents highlighted by Ms van Dyk and requested the Department to follow up on these serious cases. He wanted to know how players living with disabilities are being supported to access the facilities and equipment. He sought clarity on whether the CEO and CFO positions were permanent or part-time appointments. He congratulated TSA for the post-Covid-19 membership growth from 19 000 to 32 000 and for the first wheelchair team to have reached the finals. He asked if the membership count was based on individual learners or members, or whether registration is done per school, club or institution. He wanted to know if the fees were affordable and if a provision is made for no-fee membership. He asked if the appointment of Board Members, the CEO and CFO is subjected to a vetting process. He enquired about the demographics in terms of representation in senior management. He sought clarity from the DSAC about the basis for the R4.5 million allocation to TSA.

The Acting Chairperson asked what the economic value of the contribution meant to TSA. She enquired about the gender representation in the 35-plus age group and the gender demographics of officials and coaches. She wanted to know about the type of programmes that TSA was able to develop with the R4.5 million allocation from the Department. She asked if the Department had been provided with progress reports for the R70 million allocated to the Mahikeng local municipality for infrastructure support. She requested a list of the names of the 195 municipalities which benefitted from the ring-fenced funds.

Ms V Malomane (ANC) asked how TSA was ensuring the maintenance of infrastructure in rural areas and in townships. According to her observations, it seemed that the Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces had been prioritised in terms of development compared to other provinces. She asked what the challenges and plans were to develop infrastructure in Mpumalanga. She asked if the names of participating schools in rural areas could be made available to the Committee.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) asked what the reasons were for TSA to part ways with the organisers of the Africa Cares Women’s Challenge and how TSA was planning to promote women’s tennis. He requested more detail about the development projects in rural and township areas. He asked what the challenges were to get role models involved in the promotion of tennis in townships and rural areas.

DSAC response
Ms Khan explained that the Department was supporting between 60 and 65 sports federations. Federations are required to submit funding applications on an annual basis. The applications form the basis for the allocations and are adjudicated by a panel. Since 2016, the Department had been building facilities in municipalities throughout the country with the assistance of COGTA. To date, 195 municipalities had been covered. The budget decreased from R300 million to R280 million for the current financial year, which presented a challenge. The money is ring-fenced by COGTA. Provincial governments are responsible for identifying municipalities for development. COGTA transfers the funds directly to municipalities which take responsibility for the assessments and procurement. The Department has an oversight role and monitors developments on an ongoing basis. The target is to cover at least 50 municipalities per year. The R70 million for the Mahikeng development was directly transferred to the municipality. The Steering Committee and TSA are monitoring the project. The Department is provided with progress reports.

Mr Simphiwe Mncube, Chief Director: Federations Support, DSAC, said vetting of Board Members is done to confirm that applicants have the appropriate approval from their respective departments. Allocations to support TSA activities are detailed in the business plan that had been submitted by the Department. Deficiencies identified in the EPG report required a review of three critical areas, i.e. capacity building, ensuring a good pipeline of junior athletes, and supporting wheelchair tennis.

TSA response
Mr Crookes said the lack of tennis facilities in rural areas was due to the absence of administrators in provinces and districts. Generally, administrators are volunteers and not full-time employees. Adding to these challenges, was the difficulty of sourcing service providers to maintain tennis courts. To ensure the correct level of work in Mahikeng had been a challenge, but TSA was providing technical support. The problem highlighted the importance for Board Members to understand the game of tennis. He said Namakwaland had a longstanding tennis culture but resources to support rural areas were limited. He advised the districts to approach the local government for support because sponsors have specific requirements in terms of providing monetary support. He reported that the coach had been incarcerated and the health of his girlfriend had stabilised. Membership of the coach was suspended and he was facing expulsion. TSA had been reaching out to the woman but without success. TSA was following the legal process of the Hillcrest case. The perpetrator had been granted permission by the SAPS to leave the country. The Headmaster of the Curro school in Hillcrest advised that he would contact TSA if necessary. The victims of abuse in the Soweto case declined to lay criminal charges against the perpetrator. TSA was not in a position to prevent the individual from coaching because he was not on the TSA payroll. He remarked that different parties are laying claim to the facilities at the Arthur Ashe stadium which was presenting a challenge in terms of reopening of the stadium. TSA was considering installing satellite hubs around the stadium to accommodate the players. TSA was striving to be less dependent on sponsorships because it was limiting less visible forms of development. He reported that the CFO is an academically qualified individual. The appointment of the CEO would be finalised in March 2023. He explained that learners are members by virtue of their schools and are not required to pay fees. The situation is different for learners who play competitive tennis. In terms of demographics, he reported that administrative staff is represented by 58% black people of which 50% are women and 89% of the officials are black people. The challenge with facility maintenance was that municipalities lack the interest to renew leases and find other users for the facilities. He said TSA did not sanction the Africa Cares Women’s exhibition event. He would gladly share the report that was sent to the DDG on the challenges of ticket sales and the promotion of the event that was not done properly. TSA was promoting women’s participation by training women coaches through the mentorship programme. The number of top professional tennis players who are able to make a living from the game decreased from 70 to 30 after Covid-19. Money is a challenge and the means to support black players must be found.

Mr Davids said as a councillor, he had the permission of the Whip to serve on the TSA Board. The Board had an oversight function and was not involved in the running of TSA. No remuneration is paid to Board Members. He drew attention to the support that TSA and SASCOC provided to the family of an eight year old girl in KwaZulu-Natal who had drowned. The Board does not get involved in legal processes and only sign off after matters had been dealt with in the courts.

Mr Moruthane, said development programmes are being rolled out in key parts of the country. The expansion of hubs is taking place in different parts of the country. TSA was working on a programme to empower coaches in rural areas and townships to establish their own academies. Coaches are volunteers which was making it difficult to grow the number of coaches. TSA is paying all of the expenses for participation in the Rising Star Tennis programme. Volunteers provide assistance to participants in wheelchair tennis tournaments. Equipment is provided and travel expenses of all participating players are paid when they participate in events. TSA was grateful for the support of the Department because funding was the biggest challenge.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the Department and the TSA team for the detailed responses. She hinted that TSA might invite the Committee to one of the tennis matches in the near future. She encouraged TSA to keep up the good work and wished them the best with their efforts to get more parties on board. She stated the motto: a child in sport is a child out of court.

The Deputy Minister’s closing remarks
The Deputy Minister found the sharing of information by the TSA team and the responses refreshing. She appreciated the strides to make tennis accessible to more people. She requested that TSA provide more information about the pairing of schools to broaden access to tennis in a future session. She was thankful for the responses to the safeguarding issues raised and proposed that safeguarding should be a standard item in all reports to the Committee. She cautioned TSA to carefully consider the endorsement of tournaments in light of the problems with the Africa Cares Women’s Challenge. TSA must be insulated from exhibition matches. She was satisfied with the report and thanked TSA and the Department for being open and forthcoming with information.

The Acting Chairperson said the emphasis was on standardising safeguarding. She thanked the TSA team for their contribution.

Adoption of Minutes

The Committee adopted the minutes dated 15 November and 25 November 2022 without amendments.

The Acting Chairperson stated that this was the last meeting before Parliament closes. She thanked the DSAC team for their patience with the Committee. She urged Members to spend time with their families and wished everyone on the platform season greetings.

The meeting was adjourned.


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