Budget and Programmes for 2001/2: Briefing by Ministry

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Meeting report


22 May 2001

Ms. Bhengu (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Sport and Recreation Budget and Programmes 2001/2: Vote 18
Ministry's Budget Briefing Presentation

The Chair opened the meeting by noting the Committee's upcoming KZN study tour, scheduled for 8-11 June. The group is to consist of 4 ANC members, along with 3 members of the other parties.

Budget briefing
Minister Balfour stated that the Department's function is to meet the objectives of representivity and transformation. Policies are designed to include women, young people, and rural residents in sport. Much of the budget (which makes no provision for the yet to be realized lottery revenue) largely consists of transfer payments to organizations. These include the South Africa Sports Commission (SASC) and the respective sports federations, some of whom have been lax about applying for funds and who also have problems meeting accounting procedures and standards. The Department was committed to using local people on tenders and not to exclusively utilize consultants.

Mr Greg Fredericks of the Department added that 26 federations had received no funding from the Department because of a lack of application for funds and "a lack of commitment to development", stating that if an organization did not deliver in accordance with Departmental goals, funding would not be forthcoming. He then highlighted the 'Building for Sport and Recreation' program, which serves many purposes, including poverty relief with emphasis on programs related to drug free sports, women's and rural sports involvement, and athletic identification, assistance, and development. Development includes targeting of young black athletes, and sports clubs, for aid, and will focus on youth sports activity as a diversion from gangsterism. All these programs are part of the Department's integrated business plan, which will be presented in detail in future.

All of the budgeted R40M in the 'Building for Sport program' must be spent in 2001-02 to ensure that the budget allocations for the next two years are forthcoming. The budget includes provision for investigations such as the King Commission on cricket, which are difficult to anticipate and can distort budget figures. It was also noted that while the bulk of the budget is consumed by transfer payments, the Ministry monitors how and where the recipients spend the funds, to ensure that this occurs in furtherance of policy objectives, including transformation.

The Minister stated that the transformation process is moving much too slowly, particularly at the provincial level, and he has scheduled a June 22 workshop for federations on this subject. Unity does not amount to transformation, and he described how he was not happy with the United Cricket Board (UCB) selections for the recent fifth Test in the West Indies, nor with their contractual policies regarding two senior players whom he named, nor with certain Super 12 rugby selections. Citing these as examples of some of the issues arising with the federations, he also voiced his displeasure with the way a recent specific rugby drug inquiry was handled.

Mr Lucas (IFP) commented that local authorities must be involved in facilities development and maintenance, and are critical in ensuring that facility utilization is maximized, which the Minister agreed with.

Mr Morkel (DA) asked if, in the Building for Sport program, a facilities data base had been formulated to determine if park facilities such as those in the Western Cape which have become gang battlegrounds, could be upgraded and "reclaimed", rather than having to acquire new sites.

Mr Fredericks noted that the SASC is developing a national facility plan in conjunction with provincial identification of available lands, old and new.

Mr Frolick (UDM) inquired whether the unit in charge of the R40M Building for Sport program had proper capacity to administer it, with the Minister assuring him that a qualified team is in place to do so.

Mr Frolick also observed that the provincial transformation situation is worsening, and that the June 22 must address this issue. Some federations have a history which does not lend itself to current adherence with first world accounting principles, as they are often "run out of members' pockets" in terms of financing. Accordingly, he was heartened by the Ministry's indication that mechanisms are being put in place for capacity building.

Mr Lucas (IFP) also commended the Ministry, but expressed his disappointment with the way the recent dagga smoking incident by SA cricketers in the W. Indies was handled, feeling that the matter had been "swept under the carpet".

The Minister reaffirmed the seriousness of the incident and government concern with drug taking generally, declaring his endorsement of random drug testing for sports participants, including at the school level. He declared his intention to summon the six cricketers for further discussions. He said that while Mrs. Suzman may downplay the seriousness of the matter, "she does not live in Mitchell's Plain or Manenberg", and it is improper for role models to engage in such illegal and immoral behavior, particularly as dagga smoking leads to more serious drug use.

Mr Louw (ANC) then inquired which two provinces had not yet signed a Departmental agreement concerning the Building for Sport program, which had been referred to earlier.

The Minister said that the matter was in process, and that there was no real problem with provincial co-operation on this.

Mr Ncinane (ANC) noted that general budget rules apply to the rollover of funds, but reiterated that the R40M for the Building for Sport program was not subject to such a rollover.

The Minister verified this stating that the SASC should be more involved in the process of allocating funds to federations, which the Department currently handles. This would hopefully occur as the SASC matures as an organization.

Ms Southgate (ACDP) questioned whether the SASC which receives the bulk of the Department's transfer payments, would provide the Committee a detailed breakdown on its budget. This was also requested by Mr Swart (DA), who suggested that the Department budget cannot be debated without such input from SASC.

Fredericks indicated that this would occur, but the timing of such presentation was discussed at length by the Chair after further comments by Ms. Southgate and Mr Morkel.

Ms Southgate's commended the Minister's intended further discussions with the cricketers. She also requested that more effort be made to communicate to the underprivileged that the Ministry has an "open door" to assist them, as appropriate.

Mr Morkel (DA) then called for a national audit to see where private funding to the various federations is coming from, which call for greater transparency though the means of doing so are unclear. SAFA is not integrating its development programs with those of schools and under-utilized school facilities are an important resource.

The Chair stated, with regard to the SASC budget, that at its March 6 meeting the Committee asked the SASC for more detail concerning its personnnel expenditures, which were almost two-thirds of its budget. A further detailed budget briefing was not requested, and it is unfair to request this before the May 29 budget debate. While the requested information had not been supplied, the Committee had articulated no deadline for its provision. In view of the nascent state of the organization (it being in existence for roughly only 1 year) it was unreasonable to expect a full response in only two to three months, especially on staffing matters subject to Ministerial review.

The Chair suggested that more time be allowed for the SASC to justify its position, with close Committee scrutiny of the SASC, and federation budgets, to occur in connection with the 2003-03 budget.

Mr Frolick (UDM) endorsed the Chair's view, but Mr Morkel (DA) requested that the SASC at least be requested to provide the requested information regarding personnel expenditures before the budget debate.

The Minister agreed with the Chair, due to the lack of time before the budget vote, but noted that it was reasonable to expect the SASC to provide the requested information shortly thereafter, with Mr Ntuli (ANC) suggesting that an end of June deadline be imposed.

Mr Swart (DA) then observed that the co-operative approach on this matter within the Committee was welcome and admirable, but that no assurance could be given of the Democratic Alliance's agreement to support the budget without the information having been provided by the SASC.

The Chair then closed discussion on the SASC issue.He stated that there must be a focus on co-ordination of efforts between these role players, along with SARFU and NOCSA, perhaps via a workshop, to facilitate the meshing of programs.

The Chair concluded the meeting by noting that the May 29 budget debate would occur during the SABC afternoon Parliamentary broadcast, and expressed her hope that the quality of the debate matched last year's Committee members' efforts, particularly in their co-operative tone.

The meeting was then adjourned.


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