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SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
8 May 2001
GREYHOUND RACING; BROADCASTING; NEWLANDS FACILITY USAGE; ELLIS PARK DISASTER
Chairperson: Ms. Bhengu (ANC)
Ms Bhengu summarized the Committee's plans for this session. The Committee awaits a report on Greyhound Racing from the Department of Trade and Industry to the Ministry of Sport. The Ministry had advised that there had not been much feedback on the private negotiations amongst broadcasters on the broadcasting of National Sports Events, and the Chair believes that pressure is necessary to get them to take action. The subcommittee on usage of facilities at Newlands sportsgrounds had not yet convened but will report to the Committee's 15 May meeting. The Sports Ministry will be asked to provide an interim report on the Ellis Park investigation at the next committee meeting.
The Chair complained that only three ANC members were present which would be reported to the relevant structures.
She expressed regrets, on behalf of the Committee, for several incidents which had occurred over the Easter recess, including the shooting death of the wife of a former committee secretary and the hijacking of Mr Frolick (UDM).
The Chair noted that this topic had been put on hold, pending a consultation which was to occur between the Sports Ministry and the Trade and Industry Ministry. The Department of Trade and Industry should be preparing a report pertaining to the gambling aspect of the sport, to be presented to Minister Balfour, and then to the Committee. Ms Bhengu suggested that the Committee needed to establish time-frames for consideration of this topic.
Mr. Swart (DA) queried whether there were still interest groups which the Committee needed to hear from on this matter, and also noted that the schedule is somewhat dependent on when the aforementioned report is delivered.
The Chair noted that rather than holding public hearings, the Committee had agreed to receive written inputs, most of which have commented negatively on the gambling aspect of the sport. She went on to say that it would have been preferable for the respective Ministers to have finished their consultations and established a common view before the Committee consideration commenced, but now that the process has started the time-frames are necessary to prevent the process from continuing to drag on, and to motivate Trade and Industry to finalize its position. Swart stated that Trade and Industry be requested to submit its report by the end of this legislative session.
Mr. Lucas (IFP) suggested waiting until the next Committee meeting to take action, after an indication from the Sports Ministry as to when the report is expected, before pressing Trade and Industry.
Mr. Frolick (UDM) then noted that, as a member of the Trade and Industry portfolio committee, he is aware that a deliberate process had been followed due to recognition of the country's gambling problem.
In conclusion, the Chair stated that she will query Minister Balfour as to when Trade and Industry is expected to move forward, with an indication that the Committee wishes to receive the report by the end of the current session.
Ms Bhengu stated that the Committee had been waiting for feedback from the Sport Ministry on the results of consultations with the SABC, MNet, and E-TV as to how South Africans will be provided with access to broadcasts of sports events of national significance. The Ministry had advised that there had not been much feedback on the private negotiations among the broadcasters, and as such the Chair noted her belief that pressure was necessary to get them to take action. In this regard, she posited that the lack of a live, "real-time" broadcast of the April 11 Chiefs-Pirates match may have contributed to the Ellis Park disaster, and raised the question as to whether such a key match should be specifically identified as being of "national interest".
Mr. Swart (DA) noted that as soccer had been included in the earlier identification of sports of "national interest", that designation would certainly include such a match. He then suggested that the Committee find out directly from the broadcasters the status of their negotiations, providing a deadline for such responses.
An ANC member concurred that action is necessary, noting that lack of access is becoming a crisis as sport broadcasts increasingly move to satellite, and that pressure needs to be exerted.
Mr. Ferreira (IFP) also agreed that pressure is necessary, also observing that the April 11 match was to be broadcast by the SABC on a delayed basis, and that the list of events of "national interest" is already expansive.
Mr. Frolick (UDM) noted that last year there had been more of a sense of urgency in addressing broadcasting issues, but that the broadcasters themselves do not share that sense because of their satisfaction with the current financial arrangements. Consequently, it is up to the Committee to move this issue to the top of the agenda as the people are being deprived of access to watching sport.
Mr. Chauke (ANC) then suggested that the Committee advise the Minister of these concerns, and request him to stimulate action by the broadcasters, with the option to later invite the broadcasters to appear.
In response, the Chair noted that the matter had been raised with the Minister, but without reaction from the broadcasters, so that the Committee must now act directly, in consultation with the Minister (who needs to advise what the current status of discussions is), by inviting the broadcasters to appear. Along these lines, Mr. Swart (DA) suggested that the broadcasters be invited to appear at the May 28 Committee meeting.
Newlands Facilities Usage
The Chair noted that at the last Committee meeting on April 6, a sub-committee had been constituted to look at the background on Newlands Facilities Usage. She wanted the sub-committee to consider the best manner, including legal mechanisms if necessary, in which to facilitate Mayor Marais' appearance before this Committee. This was in order to reach a resolution of the current problem with providing access to Newlands for soccer.
She added that the sub-committee was tentatively scheduled to meet on April 24, but the Parliamentary Whip denied permission to meet over the recess, suggesting that the meeting be scheduled for May 4, which the Chair declined to do, due to the expense. The meeting was then rescheduled for May 7, but there was no quorum, as only 3 of 6 sub-committee members were present, so the meeting was to take place immediately following today's meeting, with a report to then be presented to the full Committee at its May 15 meeting.
Mr. Lee (DA) noted that he took exception to yesterday's absent sub-committee members' dilatory conduct, though the Chair then added that they had, by and large, advised her of the reasons for their absences.
Mr. Chauke (ANC) apologized to the Committee for his absence, noting that he had notified the Chair of his scheduling problem caused by a car accident he had in Gauteng on May 6.
An ANC member then stated that this remains a crisis issue, and must be dealt with as a matter of urgency due to the lingering spectre of National Party Apartheid policies in the Western Cape.
Mr. Swart (DA) concurred that quick action was necessary if there was to be hope for the Bafana Bafana-Malawi World Cup qualifier to be rescheduled for Cape Town.
Mr. Louw (ANC) then reiterated the Chair's past indication that the Committee wished to speak to the Mayor to help solve the problem, not to persecute him.
Ellis Park Disaster
In response to the earlier question by Mr. Morkel (DA), Mr. Frolick (UDM) noted that the Committee should wait for completion of the judicial inquiry into this incident before acting. Morkel agreed, but noted that the general issue of safety at sports stadia, separate from consideration of the Ellis Park tragedy, needs to be addressed as a national issue of critical concern, including the 2010 World Cup bid.
Mr. Chauke (ANC) suggested that the Sports Ministry provide an interim report on the Ellis Park investigation at the next Committee meeting.
Mr. Frolick (UDM) then expressed concern at moving forward prematurely with separate consideration of the events at Ellis Park, and usurping the roles of sports federations in ensuring compliance with relevant FIFA and other crowd control regulations, again urging that action not be taken until the judicial inquiry was completed.
Mr. Lucas (IFP) suggested that the Committee send a letter to SAFA thanking it for extending post-disaster assistance to the affected families.
The Chair endorsed this suggestion, adding that the efforts of all Committee members and all political parties in expressing sorrow and offering support in the wake of the tragedy was also greatly appreciated.
She concluded by indicating that an interim report from the Minister would be requested, with the final judicial report to be closely scrutinized by the Committee, which in the interim would examine general public safety issues at sporting events, including compliance with FIFA and other relevant regulations.
The meeting was then adjourned.
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