Newlands Facility Availability Policy

Sports, Arts and Culture

03 April 2001
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Meeting report

SPORT & RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SPORT & RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
3 April 2001
NEWLANDS STADIUM AVAILABILITY FOR SOCCER

Chairperson: Ms. N. Bhengu (ANC)

Documents Distributed:
SAFA Western Province Submission (see Appendix)

SUMMARY
This meeting arose in the wake of the South African Football Association's rescheduling of the May 5 Bafana Bafana-Zimbabwe soccer match to another facility due to difficulties in obtaining approval for the use of Newlands Stadium. Role players were invited to provide input as the committee was interested in facilitating a resolution. Western Province Rugby, Western Province Cricket Association and the Western Cape MEC all support the use of Newlands stadium for soccer. As representatives of Cape Town Unicity were not present, no progress could be made. Another meeting may be scheduled for noon this Thursday. The committee generally noted its concern with continued racism in sport.

MINUTES
The Chairperson welcomed Minister Balfour and other invited guests, including representatives of the three Cape Premier Soccer League football clubs (Hellenic, Santos, and Ajax), Western Province Rugby (WPR), the Western Province Cricket Association. (WPCA), South African Football Association Western Province (SAFAWP) and the Western Cape MEC for Sport, Mr P. Meyer. It was noted that Mr. Marais, Mayor of the Cape Town Unicity, had been invited, but was unavailable, though the Chair said that with the presence of the MEC the Mayor's absence was likely not critical.

South African Football Association Western Province
Mr Vernon Seymour, President of SAFAWP, read his body's submission to the committee. After reviewing the history of prior use of Newlands facilities for soccer, the submission essentially explained the SAFA decision to reschedule the match as a response to the atavistic apartheid land use rules and "permit system" of the Cape Town Council, also framing the controversy as a "land rights" issue.

Western Province Cricket Association
Mr. Arthur Turner noted that since 1994, when it became apparent that cricket's future financial focus would be on international competition, with provincial cricket serving mainly as a development circuit for the international game, WPCA has sought to diversify its facility's uses.

It has held a Liverpool-CT Spurs match, an Australian Rules Football match, concerts, and local PSL matches, including the Santos-Rangers game this January. While there had been no logistical problems with staging these events, WPCA had received pressure from the Council and notices that staging non-cricket events violated applicable zoning.

In response, WPCA had in 1999 applied for rezoning, but this had been denied due to neighboring residents' objections. With Ajax having made Newlands Rugby Stadium its home ground, January's Santos match had been scheduled at Newlands Cricket Stadium. This had again precipitated notice from the Council, with the threat of an interdict (which would result in costly litigation if an event were to be cancelled).

The WPCA fully supports and seeks to use its facility for soccer and other purposes. Its Board has authorized preparation of a budget including the costs of filing another rezoning application. It wants this issue resolved as a matter of urgency. He also stated, in response to a question from the Minister, that the latest notice from the Council was likely triggered by ratepayers' objections.

Western Province Rugby
Mr Rob Wagner, MD of WPR, said WPR supports use of the rugby stadium for soccer, noting that his organization has a sense of duty to soccer, and to make the best facilities available to the country's most popular sport. WPR enjoys a good relationship with SAFA and the PSL.

He said that he was unaware of resident objections to past Ajax matches, or to Bafana Bafana's prior Newlands match with Saudi Arabia. He found it curious that objections most recently began just prior to last year's local elections. He hoped for a reversal of the relocation decision on the May 5 match. In reply, Mr. Seymour said this was not possible due to FIFA deadlines, though other World Cup qualifiying matches in June and August could be scheduled for Newlands if the current controversy is resolved.

Western Cape MEC for Sport
Mr Meyer stated that his position is the same as Western Cape Premier Morkel's: all sporting codes should have access to all facilities, further declaring his distaste for "permits", which are redolent of "past practices which have caused the country so much pain."

Discussion
Mr. Frolick (UDM) asked the WPR and WPCA reps to quantify income lost from the inability to diversify use of the facilities, wondering whether such constraints could result in their facilities becoming "white elephants."

The WPCA rep stated that the production of "Grease", now to be held at Green Point Stadium, could have generated R400 000, the Liverpool soccer match in 1994 had generated the current equivalent of R300 000, and that an estimated R1m could be generated annually from diversified uses. Once the 2003 Cricket World Cup ends, there is a serious concern as to how the critical income generated from suite usage arrangements will be sustained. These are the revenues that support development projects.

Responding to another question from Mr Frolick, the WPR rep stated that a permit for the recent Human Rights Day religious rally held at the rugby ground was granted by the Council, adding that he was unaware of any subsequent resident objections to the event. He also stated, in response to a question from Mr. Swart (DA), that no permit had been applied for or issued in connection with the Bafana Bafana-Saudi match, or for Ajax matches.

Ms. Southgate (ACDP) commented that the Council's policies were "very strange", as was the Mayor's absence. She said that the location of the stadium in Newlands was a result of the prior inequality in allocation of funds which the current residents must take into account, and that tacitly exclusionary racial policies, even if legally cloaked, must be rejected.

Mr. Chauke (ANC), noting that the MEC clearly does not support the Council's position, stated that no progress can be made in the absence of Council representatives. Mr. Ntuli (ANC) concurred.

Addressing this point, the Chair implied that the Mayor had been given the opportunity to have someone else appear in his stead, but elected not to.

Mr. Swart (DA) also concurred that the absence of Council reps was regrettable. He added that while he wished not to politicize the issue, it was fair to consider why, in the years prior to DA control of the Council, the rezoning applications submitted to the ANC-led Council were denied.

Mr Mlangeni (ANC) observed that all stadia should be open to all groups, noting that everyone, including the MEC, agrees, "No more apartheid!" In his view, the current problem is with the Council, and the committee must intervene, if necessary, to resolve this situation and address any other similar "disgusting" practices which may exist in other provinces. Further, he believes that the Mayor is requiring that "everyone must apply", even if this was not required in the past, and that in now applying the rules to SAFA there is an element of racism that must be investigated.

Mr. Morkel (DA) remarked that there was a difference between "zoning" and "permitting", given the historical context, and that the latter, while legal, might not be "legitimate", and asked how the WPR and WPCA might exercise discretion in the future in opening the facilities to other groups. He also queried whether media coverage had over-politicized the issue, and at whose instigation, at which point the Chair ruled him out of order.

The Minister prior to excusing himself from the meeting, made the following comments: he noted the MEC's affiliation with the DA and accused Messrs. Swart and Morkel of "playing games". He then heatedly declared that:
- the Mayor and relevant local councillors, especially Mr. Iversen, should have attended the meeting;
- the Council's legal position on the "illegality" of usage of the facilities for soccer is "nonsense", and that "all problematic local laws should be scrapped immediately";
- the DA is taking a racist approach on this matter for political and other purposes;
- objecting local residents (which does not include all of the area's white residents) should be told: "Your objections are null and void!";
- recently, racism has reared its ugly head frequently, ranging from incidents at the soccer/rugby doubleheader at Durban's Absa Park, to the killing of a black youth by rugby club members in the Northern Province; and
- attempts to keep disadvantaged people out will not be allowed, and "Iversen and his bosses should know that."

The Minister and the MEC then excused themselves from the meeting.

Mr. Chauke (ANC) suggested that, in order for progress to be made, another meeting must be scheduled, including the appropriate local government officials.

Mr. Louw (ANC) stated that in his estimation, South Africa was one country, with the racist Western Cape standing apart. While then noting that some political parties' names may have changed, he inferred that their councillors appeared to be acting like the Nats, "retreating into the laager--like Morkel." He endorsed the suggestion of another meeting, and observed that the matter must be urgently resolved in view of SAFA's new bid for the 2010 World Cup.

Mr. Moonsamy (ANC) accused the Mayor of enforcing racist, apartheid era laws, and applying a double standard inasmuch as the May 5 match was to have been against Zimbabwe. Stating that the Mayor and others are "living in the past", he called on local ANC councillors to immediately call for the repeal of the outmoded land use laws.

A dispute occurred between Mr. Morkel (DA) and the Chair, triggered by his continued attempts to have his previous questions answered, and his query as to whether the Chair was seeking to stifle debate by refusing to recognize him for follow-up questions.

Eventually he was allowed to continue, seeking clarification as to:
- the tenor of the Mayor's response to the initial invitation to appear (which as noted at the March 30 meeting indicated his availability on the afternoon of April 3, and the existence of a schedule conflict at the time of this morning meeting), and whether he was now to be invited again or subpoenaed;
- whether SAFAWP was a party to the SAFA decision to move the May 5 match, and if there were financial aspects to that decision related to how another venue might be more lucrative.

An ANC member interjected that "SAFA was forced out of Cape Town by the Council's position, and didn't want soccer to be made a political football."

The Chair concurred with this comment, noting that SAFA's position is contained in its submission, and did not allow the SAFA rep to respond to Morkel, heatedly adding, "The Mayor is communicating with my office, and I'm not allowing you to hijack this meeting for political purposes!"

Mr. Swart (DA) said that while nobody likes "permitting", there is a legal process to follow, as was engaged in with the rezoning application filed in 1999. He asked whether the process could be moved forward by WPCA expeditiously filing another application for rezoning.

At that point the Chair ruled that further responses by the representatives would not be allowed in view of the Mayor's absence. In conclusion she remarked that:
- if the matter has been overly politicized, the manner in which some opposition committee members are proceeding adds to that unfortunate trend;
- the committee has a responsibility to change matters and attitudes, and to combat vestigial apartheid rules;
- this issue was reminiscent of a past era, when she had to use a toilet bucket while whites used proper facilities, and of when she had to purchase items through a hole in a shop wall;
- the Mayor has failed in his leadership role by stating that he is "tired of blacks hiding behind their skin".

Mr. Morkel (ANC) interjected that the Chair was violating her own dictum about politicization of this matter.

Ignoring the comment, she went on to state: "I am tired of the Mayor hiding behind apartheid laws. The Mayor must learn to provide leadership to all citizens! We are summoning him!"

In reply to Mr. Chauke (ANC), she said that the next meeting on this matter might be scheduled for as early as noon on Thursday, April 5.

The meeting was then adjourned.

Appendix 1:
SUBMISSION by SAFA Western Province to Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation, Cape Town

Subject : The problems of soccer regarding the Newlands sports facilities

Introduction

For the past few weeks the City of Cape Town made the headlines of newspapers across the country but unfortunately for us - for all the wrong reasons.

The South African Football Association found it necessary to switch a key International World Cup qualifier from Newlands. Cape Town to a venue elsewhere in the country. When one reads the various reports relating to the response of the SAFA decision - one gets the impression that there is a failure to understand what the issues are. and a simple lack of appreciation for what is at stake on the part of the political authorities of the City of Cape Town.

Why did SAFA take this drastic step?

Soccer has been played at the Newlands facilities for the past few years. Ajax Cape Town uses the rugby stadium as its home ground. Bafana Bafana played there in 1 999 in Afro-Asian Cup fixture against Saudi Arabia: Santos and Hellenic have on the odd occasion also used the cricket ground; Orlando Pirates and Sundowns have both played fixtures at Newlands cricket grounds. There have never been problems when soccer has been played at these venues. The last fixture played at the cricket stadium by Santos earlier this year was in January against Manning Rangers. Neither Western Province Rugby nor Western Province Cricket has a problem with soccer being played at Newlands. In fact both support it. As far as they were concerned there were no problems. Prior to SAFA organising the match against Saudi Arabia in 1999 there was no talk about permits having to be applied for. We simply organised the match according to FIFA regulations and standards. After the recent match Ajax played against Kaizer Chiefs which Chiefs lost there were no unsavoury incidents after the game. Common sense tell us there are no problems with soccer being played at Newlands.

Why then can soccer no longer take place at Newlands?

Ajax Cape Town and Western Province Rugby were informed by the City Council that they have been playing illegally. in contravention of the current zoning regulations applicable to Newlands.

It is common knowledge that there are elements within this city who have tried their utmost to blockade Newlands from being used as a football venue. These elements use the zoning regulations to pursue their objectives and have demonstrated in the past that they are determined to protect their interests no matter what.

In 1999. the cricketing authorities applied for a rezoning of the Newlands cricket venue into a multipurpose centre. and they failed in their bid. In 1999, the objectors used photographs of people getting out of taxis as part of their bid to demonstrate how traffic will become problematic, if football is to be allowed at Newlands. It was later established by Council for Newlands cricket, that the photos were in fact taken at Green Point stadium and not at Newlands.

Why did they fail

A group of residents with suspect motives who have enjoyed unlimited success to one of the country's premier sporting venues. have now taken it upon themselves to decide who may play and watch games at Newlands. Unfortunately the zoning regulations require that before any changes to a zoned area may be effected. the local residents must be consulted. Therefore if SAFA, with the assistance of the owners of the stadium. had to follow the permit route, chances are, we would have faced the same kind of response of the those residents whom Councillor Iversen represents.

These are the same people who threatened to apply for a court interdict earlier this year when Santos and Hellenic wanted to use the cricket stadium to play their home games. The same type of people are to be found in Stellenbosch. where Santos and Hellenic were kicked out of the Coetzenberg Stadium after complaints from the local residents.

What is most amazing about these very concerned Newlands residents - when some drunken rugby fans were stumbling through Newlands displaying scenes of undesirable behaviour after the Stormers lost a Super 12 game recently there was deafening silence. Where were their protests and enthusiastic display of opposition? The reality is that the rugby fans committing acts of thuggery were white. while the people who were complained about were black.

Lets us not try to fool ourselves and pretend that race has nothing to do with it! Let us be honest and say openly that we have a major problem in this city. Let us call a spade, a spade - racist attitudes still persist. There are people who are still trapped in our apartheid past. Some of them are sitting in the City Council of Cape Town. They are struggling with the non-racial ideal and don't know how to break free.

Is it a Land-use issue or a Land Rights issue ?

We submit that this is not simply a land-use issue

It's a Land Rights issue!

The rights of soccer clubs to have access to Newlands -

The rights of soccer fans to be treated equally to rugby fans -

The right of citizens of Cape Town to have the national team play in Cape Town -

So that they can watch Shaun Bartlett. Quinton Fortune, Thabo Mngomeni, Benni McCarthy play on home soil!

The Permit System

It is very apparent that the leadership of the City failed to grasp the rationale of our opposition to applying for permits. The permit system was a key instrument of the apartheid government to enforce the Group Areas Act and other abhorrent racist laws. Those of us who opposed racist sport either as members of SACOS or other structures of the Mass Democratic Movement, found it humiliating and degrading to apply for permits for the use of a venue so that we can play our sport. It was for those reasons that we boycotted places like Newlands, Ellis Park and Kingsmead during the apartheid era. For people to say to SAFA today, in a democratic South Africa- just apply for a permit and we will let you play.. demonstrates a lack of appreciation where we come from as a people and a lack of understanding the challenges that face this city.

One must not consider the applicable by-law (Land Use Planning Ordinance) without considering the context of its application. It was promulgated at a time when laws were made to protect white privilege. It \~~s intention of the legislature. at the time, to exclude people from having access to certain facilities. At the time of the enactment of the by-law all the "nice" facilities were built in the White Group Areas. for white people.

It is ironic that according to a recent Markinor survey. 54% of South Africans prefer soccer as their first choice. while 10% prefer rugby, while 7% prefer cricket. If one considers that the decent facilities with suites. "nice" toilets etc. - all of them are in formerly white group areas. All of them are owned by either rugby or cricket. Every time. Bafana Bafana plays a match, SAFA has to negotiate with rugby or cricket authorities.

In the rest of the world where soccer is the number one sport. Stadiums are owned by soccer. In South Africa we have a unique situation because of the apartheid legacy.

Even if SAFA decided to take the permit route. there is no doubt those privileged people living in Newlands. whom Councillor Iversen represents. would have opposed the application and might even have threatened a court interdict if the preparations for the game had gone ahead.

Imagine the embarrassment to the SAFA. the people of South Africa and the citizens of Cape Town. An international game - World Cup qualifier sanctioned by FIFA, the world controlling body of soccer - stopped b\ the courts because no permit could be obtained because local residents objected!

Imagine the damage that would have done to this country!

What can be done about the problem?

A City Council approves zoning applications by resolution of a Committee such as the Planning Committee. or Executive Committee or the Full Council. Accordingly any revision, suspension, amendment will have to be approved by such structure. In the case of the City of Cape Town, the Executive Committee enjoys wide powers of delegation. They therefore can legitimately, suspend the application of the zoning regulations applicable to Newlands, approve a temporary arrangement, while the necessary bureaucratic processes are being worked through.

Secondly. and more fundamentally. Parliament need to undertake a thorough review process of national ordinances to establish whether any of them are conflict with the new democratic ethos of post apartheid South Africa.

CONCLUSION

The City of Cape Town needs bold public leadership on this matter. Let us acknowledge that we have a piece of legislation that defies logic and is in need of urgent review. Soccer has been played at Newlands without any problem. Ajax Cape Town, Santos and Hellenic have played at Newlands without any problem. Bafana Bafana played there without any problem. Common sense tells you there is no real problem. except the ones the law has created. Now is the time to act in the interest of ALL THE PEOPLE and not the privileged few who are trapped in their apartheid past and want to protect their own narrow interests.

Footballers in this City. and indeed the people of Cape Town, are looking for leadership from the City authorities. We have been failed!.

VERNON SEYMOUR

PRESIDENT - SAFA WESTERN PROVINCE

2 April 2001

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