South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport Amendment Bill: DSAC briefing (with Deputy Minister)

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

28 February 2024
Chairperson: Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo)
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Meeting Summary


The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) briefed the Select Committee on the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) Amendment Bill. Although it had not yet been passed by the National Assembly, it was important to fast track this Bill. The reason was that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had reviewed South Africa's drug free sport legislation and found it to be non-complaint with its 2021 World Anti-Doping Code and had given a short deadline for South Africa to comply which WADA would not review. South Africa had appealed so the consequences are suspended until the appeal process is finalised. The primary consequence is that South Africa will not be allowed to raise its flag or host any major international sporting events. The Olympics take place in 2024 so it is important that the Bill is passed before the end of Parliament's Sixth Term.

Committee members asked about the process the Bill will follow given the time constraints, the proposed date for promulgation and about the SAIDS education plan and research.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill had been introduced in the National Assembly on 10 January 2022 by the Minister of Basic Education. The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education had facilitated public involvement and processed the BELA Bill. The B version of the Bill is now before the Select Committee of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for processing. The Department will be briefing the Select Committee on how the BELA Bill seeks to amend the South African Schools Act (SASA) and the Employment of Educators Act.

Deputy Minister’s introductory remarks
Ms Noncawe Mafu, Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, introduced the Amendment Bill to amend the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport Act 14 of 1997. This Institute as the national anti-doping agency has been given the task to manage drug free sport in South Africa. On the 31 October 2022 the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) informed that it had reviewed the South African Drug-Free Sport Act and identified provisions which are non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code and it expected it to correct the Act by 31 January 2023.

The Department communicated with WADA to say the given timeline was too short because of the legislation process that South Africa follows but WADA did not want to understand. The National Assembly is currently dealing with the public hearings on the Amendment Bill and it is hoped that everything will be solved and the Bill accepted by both Houses before the elections. She appreciated that the Select Committee has given the Department the opportunity to brief it on the Bill as it will assist in ensuring that they fast track the process. Since the Olympics are this year, meeting the requirements of the Bill is important so that South African teams are not affected. She handed over to Ms Sumaya Khan and her team.

South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport Amendment Bill: briefing
Ms Sumaya Khan, DSAC Deputy Director-General : Recreation and Sports Development, said they have been engaging with WADA after South Africa was given the non-compliance finding. The Department was given 21 days from 22 September until 13 October 2022 to dispute any of the non-compliance allegations. South Africa filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland by 13 October. Now that they have disputed the allegations, there will not be consequences until the appeal is decided and finalised. The primary consequence is that South Africa will not be allowed to raise its flag or host any major international sporting events. Though there were such findings, it was able to raise the South African flag during the Rugby World Cup at the Cricket World Cup, at AFCON and other major events.

DSAC Legal Services will take the Committee through the Amendment Bill to amend the clauses in the Act that were non-compliant and indicate the processes that we have undertaken to ensure that we amend those areas as well as other developments related to that. She appreciated the speed with which everybody has rallied around the Department to ensure that we prioritize that all the amendments are finalized and this Bill goes through the legislative process as quickly as possible.

Mr Benedict Mokubedi, DSAC Assistant Director: Legal Services, noted the presentation, the Bill that had been gazetted, the opinion of the Office of the Chief State Law Advisors and also comments that came through from WADA and especially a copy of the WADA Code with which we have to comply and with which our Act was not compliant.

The briefing covered the background to the Bill, the WADA ruling and consequences and the amendments to correct non compliance (see presentation).

On 30 November 2023, the Bill was presented to the Portfolio Committee for Sports, Arts and Culture. The Portfolio Committee is currently holding public consultations.

Most of the provisions that were found to be non-compliant emanated from the definition clause. Others were Section 10 and 11 of the Principal Act.

Other clauses were amended because they had become outdated such as Section 6 of the Principal Act which deals with the staff of the Institute, as some of the provisions are no longer fit for purpose.

The Chairperson thanked the speaker for the detailed and clear explanation. They would hate to stand in the way of South Africa being able to raise its flag and participate in international games. He asked the Committee members to speed up this process and ensure that they are not the reason for non-participation in upcoming sporting activities. They must ensure that South Africa complies 100% with WADA so that South Africa can participate in sporting activities.

He asked if SAIDS had established an independent doping hearing panel to examine the cases of athletes. When is the appeal board going to be instituted? What are the steps taking so far to ensure there is fast tracking of the promulgation process of the SAIDS Amendment Bill?

Committee member Ms S Lehihi (EFF) thanked the department for the very clear presentation. She stated the importance of speeding things up so South Africa can participate in everything.

Mr Bara was encouraged by the fact that there's a prompt response by the Department in trying to address the anti doping within our sports. This is something that we need to encourage and ensure that it does

He takes into account that becoming compliant with the World Anti Doping Code of 2021 is something that they have to do and conclude as soon as they can. He asked for clarity on the details of the standard of the education programmes delivered in South Africa along with an overview of the education plan. He asked if they can elaborate on research completed in South Africa and how the Department has made use of its research. He also asked if they can elaborate on the development of communicate communicated to other and decide?

He asked about communications with WADA and the medium of communication and how queries from WADA were handled about developments in the amendment of the SAIDS Act.

The Chairperson asked about the possibility of not meeting the deadlines. What will happen? Does it seriously mean that we are not going to be able to participate in the Olympics?

Department response
In the presentation, DSAC had indicated that as soon as they received the areas of non compliance, the Department worked together with SAIDS to look at the legislation and to identify all the areas that were non compliant with the Code. They amended it and sent it to the Compliance Committee of the World Anti Doping Agency. The next step was to take the Amendment Bill to Cabinet to approve it. The state law advisors then looked at it and certified it so it could go through Parliament. They need to fast track that. The Portfolio Committee called them to present this Bill in December because they had managed to send this Bill to Parliament by November. The Minister wrote to the Speaker of Parliament to indicate the urgency of this Bill because they were told it must be compliant by 21 January, but South Africa had indicated that the timeline was not reasonable, as Deputy Minister indicated already in her remarks. It was not a reasonable deadline.

He says that they had indicated to look at making sure they can manage by the end of April to have a compliant Bill, but WADA still considered them non compliant.

DSAC Legal Services replied that the challenge is not being able to give a definite date for compliance because the legislative process is run by Parliament. The Portfolio Committee is holding public hearings and once that is done, the Rules of the National Assembly prescribe how the development of this Amendment Bill is supposed to take place. But then as much as the rules prescribe the processes.

The Department is reliant on Parliament. However, we have received considerable support to expedite the Bill. It is very appreciated that we received an invitation from the Select Committee to give a briefing on the Bill. This is proactive of Parliament in taking this particular matter seriously in our endeavour to promulgate the amendments. The DG has correctly advised on establishing the independent doping hearing panel.

The Parliamentary Legal Adviser replied that it is important to touch on procedural compliance by the Select Committee. By all indications it appears that the Bill will be amended by the Portfolio Committee. Once the Bill is transmitted to the Select Committee, it needs to ensure that there is a public participation process on the amended Bill. It is a Section 75 Bill so that means the Select Committee may propose amendments. If no amendments are proposed, then the Bill will be transmitted directly to the President.

SAIDS replied about its education programmes and research. The education plan and research is outlined and disclosed in our annual report that is tabled to Committee. The education plan will involve audiences in the nine provinces in the country and the different categories of sports people from athletes, coaches, medical doctors and pharmacists. The education program reach and also the type of programmes, workshops, seminars and presentations that are delivered are in the annual report.

In its research, SAIDS collaborates with the universities in South Africa and also WADA. We receive funding for collaborative research with universities in other parts of Africa and South Africa on scientific research pertaining to anti doping behaviours.

The Chairperson concluded the meeting.

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