National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill [B17-2006]: Public hearings

Sports, Arts and Culture

09 October 2006
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Meeting report

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 October 2006
NATIONAL SPORT AND RECREATION AMENDMENT BILL [B17-2006]: PUBLIC HEARINGS


Chairperson: Mr B Komphela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Daily Voice submission
National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill B17-2006

SUMMARY
The Committee met with various stakeholders to receive submissions on the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill. The Committee would seek to oversee an inclusive process of public input and comment. The Bill sought to provide the Minister of Sport and Recreation with increased powers to intervene in federations to resolve disputes and monitor compliance with transformation and good governance requirements. A distinction between “intervention” and “interference” had to be maintained. The executive-authority would play no role in team selections. Sport should serve as a vehicle for unity. Genuine transformation still had to be achieved in the majority of sports federations. Federations had to maintain appropriate levels of good governance and accountability to national policy. Coaches and trainers should receive increased salaries relative to administrators. High-performance was attained through sound coaching methods. The proposed intervention by the Minister into federations was perceived by certain stakeholders as problematic.

Members asked various questions including the need for sound in-house administrative capacity in federations, the negative connotation associated with quota players, the proven benefits of initial development work to nurture and support young talent, the role of schools in identifying talent in disadvantaged areas, the need for integrated development plans, the relation between the Constitution and the Amendment Bill, the relevance of the suspension of the Greek Football Association from the Federation of International Football Associations and the need to reduce the legacies of apartheid in sport.

MINUTES
The Chairperson stated that the Committee intended to oversee an inclusive process of public submissions regarding the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill. The media would be allowed to make submissions on the envisaged implications of the Bill. The Bill had been under discussion for three years. A Ministerial Task Team report had proposed that the Minister be given more power over the various sport federations to direct certain core priorities such as transformation and good governance. The role of the Minister had to be clearly defined. “Intervention” would be engineered as opposed to “interference”. Acts of intervention would occur in line with government policy. Two major issues resided in the proposed legislation namely the role of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) as a non-governmental organisation, and the additional powers to be assigned to the Minister. The Minister would not be empowered to intervene in team selection and in-house administration of sports federations. Sport should act as a facilitator of unity. The government would support all federations that co-operated with stated government policy. Additional resources were required for meaningful transformation development. Sport should act as a catalyst for unity in diversity.

Daily Voice submission
Mr Ashfak Mohamed (Daily Voice) stated that sport in South Africa had failed to transform itself. Window dressing continued to prevail in the major federations such as rugby and cricket. A spirit of transformation had to be embraced by all South Africans. Many black rugby players were performing at the Currie Cup level but failed to gain recognition at the national level. Quotas had to be enforced to drive meaningful transformation. National teams had to reflect the demographics of South Africa. The Minister had to intervene in problematic federations to ensure progress.

Discussion
Mr D Dikgacwi (ANC) noted that many of the issues raised in the submission had been discussed by Members in previous meetings with the respective federations.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) asked for further detail on the media’s assessment of transformation in sport. Federations required sound in-house capacity to render effective governance. The power relations between national and provincial entities had to be determined.

Mr S Masango (DA) declared that sport should serve as a vehicle to promote unity but powers of intervention should not be granted to the Minister. Various international teams were supported by local citizens without any political connotations involved. The executive-authority could not intervene in team selections. Makhaya Ntini would never regard himself as a quota selection.

Mr Mohamed responded that the smaller federations needed direction from the government to fast-track transformation. The fact that the Minister of Finance supported the All Blacks as opposed to the Springboks gave prominence to the debate on transformation. Mr Ntini could be perceived as a product of transformation as his initial selection was in accordance with quota stipulations.

Mr Frolick agreed that Ntini had been discovered by a development initiative in the Eastern Cape. The correct approach was to nurture and develop players to reach the highest level of competition. A deliberate initial attempt was required to produce results.

Mr Mohamed concurred that the quota system should not be perceived in a negative light. Positive benefits could derive from the methodology.

The Chairperson stated that potential in players had to be recognised and fostered. The Minister of Finance was entitled to declare his allegiance for a foreign team as local transformation had failed to materialise in an acceptable manner.

Mr Frolick noted that significant transformation was occurring at the community level. Team selection at all levels had to be based on merit.

Mr Masango asserted that a constant return to race issues when contemplating transformation in sport hindered progress. Players in teams at all levels should not be labelled as quota players.

The Chairperson stated that development initiatives had to also include the provision of opportunities and privileges to give meaning to the process.

Mr Mohamed acknowledged that sound work was taking place on the ground at community level. However, this positive development had to translate into adequate selections at the senior level. Ten players of colour had recently represented South Africa at the under-21 level in rugby. Junior players had to progress to the senior ranks. National team coaches and administrators should not undermine transformation endeavours.

Mr Frolick concurred that a significant vibrancy existed at the local level. South Africa had to pursue sports development as a matter of urgency. Model C and private schools had to identify potential talent within the disadvantaged areas. Young players had to be mentored to reach appropriate levels of skill and proficiency.

Mr Dikgacwi declared that development advanced to a particular level and then tended to dissipate, particularly at the national level.

Mr E Saloojee (ANC) noted that significant transformation activity was tasking place at the Model C and private school level. Therefore, much development was occurring within the middle classes. However, such positive developments had to be expanded to the poorer regions and underprivileged communities. A holistic approach as regards the education system had to be implemented.

Gen B Holomisa (UDM) acknowledged that certain key issues had been glossed over in the past ten years. Attention had to now be placed on the shortcomings. The major sports codes had tended to be funded by the private sector in the past, thus isolating the particular codes from transformation directives and policy direction. Sport in general should have been integrated into national development plans. Further research was required to clearly understand the current selection process. National teams tended to be chosen from pre-selected groups of players involved in training camps. Additional financial allocations to provincial governments should be contemplated to drive development programmes. Discussion between the government and the private sector would serve to co-ordinate transformation initiatives.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee should ponder the rural/urban bias and the role of business in the overall development agenda. The private sector could not ignore the majority of citizens when sponsoring development initiatives. A wide-based approach to development had to be fostered involving government and key private sector role-players.

Mr Mohamed stated that federations had to be monitored to ensure that financial allocations were properly utilised in accordance with set objectives. Players from disadvantaged backgrounds had to be developed to supplement those advancing from elite schools. Adequate sports and training facilities had to be developed in poor areas.

Gen Holomisa asserted that development initiatives had to be directed at the entire population as opposed to niche segments. Equal access to development programmes had to be ensured.

The Citizen submission
Mr Wessel Oosthuizen (The Citizen) had covered sports in South Africa for many years. He had established the Russian Gymnastics School of South Africa in Johannesburg. Comments on the proposed amendment bill were provided. The Olympic Charter stressed that national governments should not intervene in the organisation, administration and management of sports federations. Transformation in gymnastics had been inadequate. The South African Gym Federation had to adopt more energetic programmes to enhance the production of high-performance gymnasts. Competitors were struggling to raise adequate resources to travel to competitions. The majority of gym clubs affiliated to the federation received coaching from inexperienced personnel. High performance gymnasts required skilled and qualified coaches to succeed. The Gymnastics Federation displayed poor levels of accountability and a lack of corporate governance. The transformation and development programmes were mere window dressing. Better salaries should be offered to coaches and trainers as opposed to administrators. Transformation had to reflect the demographics of the country. Sascoc had proved to be a fundamental failure since its inception. Sascoc, and not the Minister, should be responsible for resolving disputes in federations. The government had to enter into partnerships with sport stakeholders. The proposed intervention by the Minister into sport was a matter of grave concern. The present Act contained sufficient powers for the Minister to intervene in disputes as had occurred in recent times. The Bill should not be passed in its present form. South Africa’s participation in international events could be jeopardised. Grants should be withheld from non-performing sporting codes. 

Discussion
Gen Holomisa proposed that the Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR)provide more feedback on the current state of affairs in gymnastics. He asked whether Sascoc could be perceived as being in limbo.

Mr Greg Fredericks (Chief Director-DSR) stated that the Department worked closely with the Gymnastics federation and mass participation programmes were in place. The federation provided numerous training modules. However, the federation had to enhance its international results. Certain positive results had been recorded such as the success of black tumblers in the North-West province. Sascoc had recently experienced extensive financial problems that culminated in the removal of the Chief Executive Officer from office. The National Lottery owed Sascoc R8.7 million. Training camps within the National Academy continued.

The Chairperson declared that the problems in Sascoc would be discussed at another meeting. The removal of the CEO indicated serious shortcomings in the administration of the organisation. Financial allocation from the Lottery was urgently required to alleviate budget constraints.

Mr L Reid (ANC) sought clarity on allegations that the Bill would violate certain Constitutional clauses. The proposed amendments were designed to allow the Minister to drive the much-needed process to level the playing fields. Clauses that sought to address past injustices could not be perceived as unconstitutional. Quotas were essential to ensure transformation.

Mr Dikgacwi declared that training facilities had to be well-positioned to reduce transport costs for the intended beneficiaries. The Bill was intended to address past discriminatory practices.

Mr W Spies (FFP) asked for more detail on the future scenario if the Bill was promulgated in its present form.

Mr Masango sought clarity on the reasons for Greece’s suspension last year by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) on grounds of government interference in Greek soccer.

The Chairperson stated that the suspension of Greece should be regarded as a separate matter in terms of Ministerial interference. The intervention proposed in the Bill had to be viewed in a different light.

Mr Oosthuizen stated that his gymnastics club should serve as a model for transformation. Currently, only one white person was receiving training at the club. The International Olympic Charter emphasised that no interference from government agencies in sports federation would be tolerated. Sports organisations had to remain independent. The Minister should not intervene in federations to enforce quotas. National teams could be selected on merit that adequately reflected the demographics profile. Training facilities had to be well-positioned to facilitate access by disadvantaged communities. Sport did not require anyone who would initiate a crusade against the quota system. Sport had to avoid damaging disputes and numerous arbitration cases. South Africa could improve its overall international competition results. The Greek Soccer Federation would have to provide information on the reasons for its suspension by FIFA.

Mr Frolick agreed that information should be sourced from the Hellenic Football Association to explain the reasons for suspension. The Bill would strive to provide the Minister with the power to intervene in federations in accordance with national policy as opposed to interference in administrative matters.

The Chairperson concurred that the matter would be discussed once the researchers had provided additional information.

Gen Holomisa stated that the preamble to the Bill could specify the objective of the amendments to accelerate transformation and development and avoid allegations of interference in federations.

Mr Frolick reminded Members that the Department had held discussions with various key international organisations regarding the position on interference in federations.

The Chairperson stated that many federations had acknowledged the need for deeper levels of transformation in their particular codes and had advocated legislative amendments to drive the process. Lack of integration and meaningful development created frustration within the various federations. Transformation in sport had to occur in line with Constitutional principles. The Bill had to ensure that continued discrimination in sport did not occur. The legacies of apartheid had to be borne in mind when contemplating solutions.

Mr Oosthuizen declared that transformation in rugby was occurring at all levels. For example, Action Cricket had been completely transformed. He expressed frustration with the alleged incompetence of the Gymnastics Federation. The state could impose financial constraints on federations that were incalcitrant. Role models were needed in high-performance sport to generate interest and assist developmental initiatives.

The Chairperson reminded Members that certain well-resourced federations such as cricket and rugby did not require State financial assistance and therefore felt less obliged to implement meaningful transformation. The Government had to intervene in such federations where certain players were being ignored.

Mr Oosthuizen concurred that failure to select players on the basis of race was fundamentally wrong. However, Members had to remember that many players in various sports were never selected for national teams due to the limited number of places available. Selection had to be based on merit. He re-emphasised that international conventions stipulated that governments could not interfere in federations.

The Chairperson asked that the term “interference” be defined, to understand the concerns raised.

Mr Oosthuizen replied that the state could not interfere in a particular federation and demand information such as statistics if no monetary assistance was provided by the state. National sports selectors should have complete control over the entire selection process. Section 14 of the Bill stipulated that guidelines or policies issued by the Minister had to be in accordance with international protocols and agreements.

Gen Holomisa reaffirmed that the Minister could not interfere in team selections but the state should play a key role in facilitating transformation. The state had to monitor the expenditure patterns of federations. The Minister had the duty to oversee sport in general.

The Chairperson sought clarity on aspects of the Bill that might result in claims of unconstitutionality.

Mr Gideon Boshoff (DSR Legal Advisor) declared that section 9(2) of the Constitution sought to address past cases of unfair discrimination. The Constitution had to be viewed as superior to all other pieces of legislation and international protocols and agreements. The Minister required sufficient power to intervene in issues of conflict where necessary. The Bill was certainly in line with the Constitution.

Adv Bongiwe Lufundo (State Law Advisor) added that section 85 of the Constitution provided the Minister with the right to develop national policy. The Minister could intervene in federations if proper procedures were followed.

Mr Boshoff stated that the relevant clause would not allow the Minister to mediate in person in disputes within federations in order to avoid a possible conflict of interest. The Minister would issue directives as opposed to rulings.

The Chairperson reiterated that the Bill would seek to transform sport in strict accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution would override international convention and agreements.

Mr Fredericks questioned whether the powers and functions of Sascoc as an NGO should be included in the Bill. Sascoc could not be regarded as equivalent to the Sports Commission that it had replaced. A link between all stakeholders would be forged in the interests of meaningful transformation.

The Chairperson concurred that the state should not abdicate statutory powers to an NGO. Sascoc could demand financial support in exchange for assuming certain delegated responsibilities. 

Mr Fredericks added that Sascoc could not be an NGO and a public entity simultaneously. The delegating of certain responsibilities would necessarily result in the channelling of financial resources but the organisation would retain its NGO status. The Bill had to clearly identify the Minister as head of policy and governance in sport. The responsibility for recreation lay with the Department and not with Sascoc. Clause 4 should be rephrased to indicate that the onus lay with Sascoc to enter into a service level agreement with the Department and not as presently stated. The envisaged requirement that federations had to submit statistics on demographics and membership numbers was a positive development. The intention was to alter the demographics in accordance with policy directives and not to institute new forms of discrimination. Enforcement measures had to be introduced to foster heightened levels of compliance. Changes in demographics had to be monitored to gauge the rate of implementation. Sports federations in most countries were members of macro-organisations. The department would only recognise federations that belonged to Sascoc. The Bill would entrench national federations as custodians of their respective codes relative to private sector companies.

Gen Holomisa stated that all federations should be properly capacitated before financial resources were provided.

Mr Frolick added that Members had to clearly understand the relationship between Sascoc and the federations in order to formulate appropriate legislation.

The Chairperson also declared that expenditure patterns by federations had to be closely monitored. The administrative capacity of federations had to be assessed prior to financial allocations. The capacity of federations and the size of membership varied. The larger federations objected to the voting power of the smaller federations within Sascoc.

Gen Holomisa sought clarity on the reason for the dissolution of the Sports Commission and the subsequent establishment of Sascoc.

Mr Frolick acknowledged that the bigger codes resented the influence of smaller federations in Sascoc and proposed that the structure could be reevaluated to reduce levels of tension.

Mr Fredericks stated that the Ministerial Task Team had advocated that sports federations be housed under one umbrella body to prevent confusion. The issue of voting powers for the smaller groupings could be revisited. For example, a large federation such as cricket was allocated one vote whereas archery, as a family administered sport with few members, received the same voting power.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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