Springbok Rugby Team Selections: discussion; Committee Report on German Study Tour: adoption

Committee: Sport and Recreation

Date of Meeting: 01 Aug 2006

Summary

No summary available for this committee meeting.


Minutes

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
1 August 2006
SPRINGBOK RUGBY TEAM SELECTIONS: DISCUSSION; COMMITTEE REPORT ON GERMAN STUDY TOUR: ADOPTION

Chairperson:
Mr B Komphela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Committee Report on Germany Study Tour

SUMMARY
The Chairperson informed the Committee of statements he had made to the media regarding Springbok rugby team selection. The Committee agreed that the transformation issues in rugby needed to be addressed urgently. South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee and Karate South Africa would on Friday, 4 August, brief the Committee on their activities. The Sport and Recreation SA would also do a briefing on the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill and the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport Amendment Bill. The Committee adopted its report on a study tour to Germany with amendments, which included recommendations that aimed at ensuring the cost-effective use and survival of new stadiums beyond the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

MINUTES

Chairperson’s statement to the press on rugby team selections

The Chairperson welcomed Members to the meeting and said that he would like to inform them of comments related to rugby that he had just made to the media. According to media reports the Springbok coach, Mr Jake White, had said that he could not be held solely responsible for the selection of the national rugby team. His decisions were made within the parameters set by the rugby leadership.

The Chairperson noted that this assertion echoed what the Committee had maintained all along: the team could not be selected without input from rugby’s leadership. Jake White was portrayed as an individual who had blatantly undermined rugby leadership and took his own decisions. If the coach acted within the parameters set by the leadership however, he could not take sole responsibility. Rugby leadership should also bear responsibility since they guided the coach’s decisions.

The Chairperson’s dissatisfaction with the team had been quoted on numerous occasions. The Committee was also dissatisfied, particularly after the Springboks suffered a 49-0 defeat in Australia. Members were concerned about the caliber of the national rugby team. Everybody had been led to believe that black players were lowering the Springboks’ standards yet a predominantly white team still failed to produce success. This failure proved that the idea that black players negatively affected the standard of the game was incorrect.

The Chairperson added that the Committee put on record that the coach could not leave the team in the state it was in now. If he intended to coach an overseas team, he should leave the Springboks “intact”. He felt that there was nothing wrong with the game but that “there was something wrong in the manner in which this national asset was guided” as far as transformation was concerned.

The Chairperson wanted to put what he had told the media on record since he knew that by the following day newspapers might have distorted his comments.

Discussion

Mr C Frolick (ANC) said that he had heard some rumours indicating that there was also some unhappiness within the team about Mr Vusi Kama, their media manager.

The Chairperson said that when Dr Ali Bacher was elected to the SA Rugby Board, the Committee wondered what he would be contributing to the team and to the sport. The Springboks had been adamant that they needed Dr Bacher since sponsors would look up to him. The Committee felt however that SA Rugby’s leadership was of such a quality that it could attract investment and sponsors even without Dr Bacher’s presence on the Board.

The Committee was also concerned that Dr Bacher would bring additional people into the team. While the Committee did not underestimate his ability, they were unsure about the value he would bring to the team. The Board needed to inform the Committee of the “weight and the stature” he was bringing to Rugby.

Mr E Saloojee (ANC) was baffled as to why the leadership had decided to take Dr Bacher on board. Dr Bacher, whose history has been essentially with cricket, had also been involved in tennis. Cricket was wholly different from Rugby and Mr Saloojee wondered what Dr Bacher had to add as far as transformation in Rugby was concerned.

He pointed out that the few black players SA Rugby had selected in the recent past had performed exceptionally well. Having attended some of the matches he knew that there was potential for players to be selected on merit and to include historically disadvantaged players. There was no doubt in his mind however that the administration and governance of SA Rugby were reluctant to take the measures needed to transform the game at the highest level.

Mr Frolick said that he had been privileged to, during a private visit to Australia and New Zealand, sit quite close to the team during a press conference. The understanding between Mr Vusi Kama and Supersport as well as the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) sport journalists was quite remarkable. He was shocked to learn that Mr White was unhappy with Mr Kama. He wondered whether this alleged unhappiness might be related to the fact that people who were not elected to the Rugby Board had their own ideas of how things should be done. According to reliable sources Mr Kama’s successor was “already in the pipeline”. If this was the case the Committee needed to find out who was really in charge of SA Rugby – “was it those people who were co-opted” onto the Board or those who were elected to the Board and as such, had constituencies. These elected members would be held directly accountable for what happened within the sport.

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) felt that it was unfair of Mr White to blame Mr Kama for not having responded to issues. Mr White did not consult Mr Kama when he made his statements and decisions.

The Chairperson closed this discussion by saying that transformation issues in South Africa were not about “black and white”. Transformation was about making the necessary changes that would result in opportunities for those who had been denied the opportunity to play before. The Committee did not deny that merit should be a factor and emphasised that transformation was needed. Members did not expect people who had never played the game to be selected simply because they were black. It did however expect SA Rugby to identify players with potential, nurture their talent in their programmes and give them opportunities to be full participants. He could guarantee that in this way “the complexion of the game” would change.

Meeting with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and Karate South Africa
The Chairperson alerted Members to their meeting with SASCOC and Karate South Africa, which would take place the following day. The meeting with SASCOC was necessary because the Committee had not really interacted with the organisation since its establishment. Members would be particularly interested in the organisation’s programmes which were aimed at facilitating transformation.

Response from Algoa Yacht Club

The Chairperson reminded the Committee that Mr D Lee (DA) had informed them of the plight of the Algoa Yacht Club in Port Elizabeth. The Club, which contributed to the development of young people in the area, had been unable to grow their organisation largely due to the R45 000 rate it had to pay to the National Ports Authority (NPA) every month. The Committee had, on a visit to the Club, been surprised to find that its membership comprised mostly black youth. With the assistance of the Department of Public Enterprises, the Committee had succeeded in coming to their aide: their lease issue has been brought to a close. The Club sent the Committee a series of letters expressing their appreciation.

National Sports and Recreation Amendment Bill and the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport Amendment Bill
The Chairperson said that the draft National Sports and Recreation Amendment Bill had been referred to the Committee. The Minister of Sport and Recreation submitted it on 18 July 2006. The legislation would be a blueprint that would spell out the direction Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) would take.

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport Amendment Bill would also be discussed. The Committee would draw up a programme for dealing with these two Bills. Sports journalists and all other interested persons would be invited to air their opinion on the Bills.

Mr Saloojee said that for the first time in the history of cycling the winner of the Tour de France was implicated in doping charges. Five participants had been disqualified before the event had even started.

The Chairperson said that this state of affairs proved that it was necessary to deal with the legislation as soon as possible.

Mr Frolick asked when the briefings on the two pieces of legislation would take place. These briefings would be vital since they would determine the direction the Committee would ultimately take.

The Chairperson said that the briefing on the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport Amendment Bill has been provisionally scheduled for Friday, 4 August. Experts would brief the Committee on the objectives of the Bill so that the Committee could be clear on what Government and the public expected from it.

Mr Frolick said that the executive had drafted the legislation. He proposed that the Minister should appear before the Committee to introduce both Bills because they were products of his Department. During this briefing other experts could also give their input. When the 2010 Soccer World Cup legislation was reintroduced no one from the executive had made an appearance. This could not be allowed again. The Chairperson agreed with the proposal since it was the appropriate parliamentary procedure.

Committee Report on Study Trip to Germany
The Chairperson said that the Committee would not have been able to successfully discuss the 2010 World Cup legislation had it not visited France and Germany who had experience of hosting the event. The Committee had noticed the same patterns in both countries. ABSA, Vodacom and others also made valuable inputs.

He was confident that all South Africans could be comfortable with the manner in which the legislation had been dealt with. Even journalists had managed to accurately report on what had been discussed during the deliberations. The media even managed to reflect the positive atmosphere during the discussions.

The Committee would visit Korea and Japan next to determine why these countries had demolished some of their stadiums after hosting the Soccer World Cup finals. On their return the Committee would then be able to offer advice on problems to avoid. The study trips put the Committee in a good position to influence the staging of the 2010 World Cup. He emphasised that if there were to be any “white elephants” after the event it would be “a big problem” and that he would then not be able to “campaign for the ANC”.

The Chairperson proposed that the report should include a proposal that everyone who had at Government expense undertaken fact finding trips to Germany to learn more about hosting the event should have a conference to discuss all their findings. They could then compile a report that would contain all their findings which would function as a working document that would direct their interaction with the Department.

Mr Frolick felt that the findings and recommendations should reflect that there would be a follow up meeting with the German local organising committee (LOC) in order to reflect on some of the lessons that they had learnt and some of the shortcomings that would have to be addressed. South Africa needed to somehow form part of that process in order to know what it should be aware of during discussions with its 2010 stakeholders.

He also pointed out that although South Africa, like Germany, had given a national guarantee to the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA), the implementation of the guarantee would take place at municipal level. One thus needed to ensure that municipalities had the capacity to engage with FIFA, to execute the mandate that they had been given and to ensure that the event was being organised according to the agreed upon guidelines. He warned that if this did not happen there would be a serious problem. There needed to be open channels of communication between South Africa’s LOC for 2010 and the different hosting cities that met with the LOC on a monthly basis. As the event neared they would meet more frequently. It was imperative that the Portfolio Committee sent at least two delegates to these meetings so that it could gauge what progress cities made in ensuring that the national guarantees were being implemented.

Mr Frolick also advised that the Committee should keep a very close eye on the finance model for the 2010 World Cup to ensure that cities were not being overburdened by taking on responsibilities that were not theirs. Concurrent processes should be in place to ensure that the necessary transport system was in place, that infrastructure development took place etc. National departments had to be proactive because timeframes were imperative – if a national department caused a delay it would impact negatively on the readiness of the host cities for the Confederations Cup in 2009 and the World Cup in 2010.

The Chairperson said that it would be important to draw up a programme that would include all stakeholders particularly those who had signed guarantees.

Mr Frolick recommended that in terms of the three spheres of Government it was important to ensure that responsibilities were clearly demarcated so that each role player knew exactly what their responsibilities were. The Committee would have to undertake regular site visits to monitor the progress that was made especially as far as the construction of the different stadiums was concerned. He pointed out that related processes such as public awareness campaigns should also be in place. Public awareness programmes were important in order to ensure that the public was fully informed of the direction that would be taken once the construction commenced. Experience showed that the public (especially young school children) should be given the opportunity to tour sites at various stages of the construction in order to instill a sense of ownership. Ultimately they would be the beneficiaries of the development.

He said that the Committee should always be aware that stability in sport federations, in particular the major ones (Soccer and Rugby), was very important. After 2010 South Africa would have stadiums that would have cost the taxpayer billions of rands. If sport federations in these areas were not stable there would be serious challenges with regard to the frequency with which the stadiums would be utilised. If soccer and rugby federations were stable and were run in a professional manner one would be able to ensure that frequent sporting events took place at these new stadiums. The Committee needed to assist in those areas where there was no such stability so that proper structures could be put in place. If this were not done these stadiums would become white elephants. The onus rested on the Committee and its colleagues in the provinces and municipalities to ensure that proper sport structures were in place and that there was a plan that would ensure the usage of facilities after the 2010 World Cup.

The Chairperson added that host cities should submit their business plans for funding to the National Treasury on time. The LOC had its own feasibility study and standards for measuring how much the stadiums would cost. Municipalities also had their own standards for measuring cost. Business plans and the information from the LOC and the host cities would be very important. The Committee needed to be “on top of this process” so that they could harmonise the findings to ensure that business plans were submitted on time and that figures were accurate.

The Committee knew that there would be no problems with stadiums owned by rugby unions. Privately owned stadiums such as Ellis Park and Royal Mafikeng posed a problem however. If ownership information was confidential, he urged that that confidentiality should not extend as far as the Portfolio Committee. Government needed to know what the cost attached to “putting a facelift on them through public funds” would be. The Committee needed to know what a contractual relationship with these stadiums would entail. Since public funds would be invested in them the Committee proposed that Government should have veto power as far as such a contract was concerned. The Committee was very uncomfortable with the existing confidentiality clause and further discussion would take place.

Mr Frolick said that during visits to the various host cities of the 2006 World Cup it had been very clear that the government representatives that sat on the LOC were the best people for the task. South Africa had to ensure that the representatives on the LOC were the best equipped for the task and that they were in a position to drive the processes. They needed to be project managers who were capable of managing projects of the magnitude of the World Cup. Government officials needed to take charge of the responsibilities given to them. If they failed to do so corrective measures would need to be taken.

The Committee adopted the report with these and other technical amendments.

Adoption of minutes
The Committee adopted minutes of 17, 19, 22, 23, 24, 26 and 29 May as well as the minutes of 6, 9, 12, 13, 14 and 20 June without amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.



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