Rugby SA Progress Report, PE Rugby Task Team, Department Annual Report

Sports, Arts and Culture

20 February 2007
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SPORT AND RECREATION

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 February 2007
RUGBY SA PROGRESS REPORT, PE RUGBY TASK TEAM, DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT

Chairperson:
Mr B Komphela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Analysis of Super 14 Squads and Transformation
Injury Management Presentation
Abridged Department Annual Report Presentation
 
SUMMARY

Members of the South African Rugby Union Executive stressed how important transformation was to the future of the sport. They acknowledged that there was a gap between the representation at lower levels and the top end of South African rugby. There was a big difference in the demographics of the rugby-playing population in different parts of the country. Although there were many participants at youth level, it was a challenge to maintain the number of players after they left school. Marketing the game was a problem.

Members of the Committee were critical of the leadership of SA Rugby. They accused the executive of paying lip service to the cause of transformation, and expressed the view that the majority of administrators were preventing the introduction of meaningful transformation. Members were also concerned with the manner in which Mr Matsha had been treated.

In terms of the situation in Eastern Province rugby, the SA Rugby executive had been unable to dismiss the local executive. Many of the problems in the region were related to racism. The Task Team gave an explanation of some of the problems they encountered.

Members of the Committee could not understand how the directive given at a previous meeting had not been carried out. It seemed clear that the leadership of SA Rugby was powerless to enforce their decisions. One member pointed out that there was a democratically-elected executive in place, and there should be no political interference.

A presentation was given on the increased tendency of serious and fatal injuries in Rugby. Major problems were the lack of first aid facilities, players not being fully fit and poor coaching methods. Members questioned the lack of a proper insurance scheme for players.

The Department presented its Annual Report. It had managed to spend approximately 95% of its budget. Vacancies were still a problem, with about 30% of its posts still vacant. However, the staffing process was well under way. One particular problem was the lack of a labour relations unit, but this was being addressed. The staffing process was also on track in terms of transformation targets. Most of the problems raised when the report was originally tabled had been addressed. Independent members were to be appointed to the audit committee.

MINUTES
The Chairperson noted that Members would be attending the National Assembly that afternoon.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) continued that a draft motion without notice had been tabled on the occasion of the announcement of the South African team to play in the forthcoming Cricket World Cup. Cricket South Africa (CSA) would be congratulated on its recent successes both on the field and in the aspect of transformation. All South Africans would be called on to rally behind the team. The promises had been fulfilled, and the squad of fifteen contained seven black players who had been selected on merit. The squad would be invited to visit Parliament before its departure to the Caribbean.

The Chairperson said that a year and a half previously, CSA had to make a choice between fielding a South African team or a white team. Mr Gerald Majola had promised to select a transformed South African team. This promise had now been fulfilled. Some other sporting codes were doing well, such as Athletics.

He said that this meeting had been called by the CEO at the end of November. It had been agreed that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) would brief the Committee on progress made following the November meeting. There was still drama in the Eastern Province, and the Committee was watching this with keen interest. The Committee had complete dissatisfaction with the way in which its relationship with SARU had gone down the drain. Some of the remarks SARU had made were not befitting its own stature. Initiatives had backfired due to reactionary lawyers.

Mr Komphela said that it was time to show SARU that South Africa was not a banana republic. Lawyers were giving SARU reactionary advice and the sport was being kept hostage. Eastern Province (EP) was the home of black rugby, and white interests therefore wanted to see the province go down. The government would not allow rugby to go anywhere it wanted.  He had recently read in the City Press about racist white supporters that had humiliated a black couple at a match.

He welcomed Mr Donald Lee back to the Committee after a length absence. He invited Mr O Hoskins (President, SARU) and Mr G Fredericks (Chief Director, Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA)) to introduce their respective delegations.

SARU Progress Report Since Last Meeting
Mr Regan Hoskins (SARU President) said that SARU was in a difficult situation, but that no problem was too great to solve. His delegation would be reporting back on three areas, namely progress since the last meeting, the situation in the Eastern Province and on injuries. In June 2006 the SARU Presidents’ Council had adopted the Transformation Charter. The challenge lay in the implementation of the Charter. He realised that the sport had a racist part. Everybody knew that rugby had been used as an instrument of enforcing apartheid, whether this had been conscious or not. The sport still had baggage from the past, which was reflected in some recent incidents. There was still a long way for rugby to go in the context of the new society. SARU had therefore approached Dr Willie Basson to assist in drafting the Charter. His bona fides were unquestioned. Mr Hoskins referred to the document showing the squads of the South African teams in the Super 14 competition for the first three matches of the 2007 season. The reasons why more black players had not taken the field would be provided.

Dr Willie Basson (Consultant, SARU) said that the Transformation Charter had been circulated to every province. It had been received enthusiastically in some areas but not so much in other parts of the country. The transformation plan was multi-dimensional. Experience showed that a superficial approach to transformation had been followed in which the process had only been measured by counting black players.

He said that the drivers for sensible demographic change were the provision of access and the fostering of the capabilities of black administrators and players. The Charter had been accepted at the SARU Presidents’ Council. Testing had been done, and the document had been accepted unanimously. The provincial unions were convinced of the need for transformation. In eleven of the fourteen member provinces, the number of school players had shrunk between 1995 and 2005. It was clear that the future of rugby in South Africa would not be vested in the traditional base. The majority of white players were in the age bracket of 30 – 35 while the majority of black players were between 8 and 12 years of age. There was general acceptance of the need to improve the abilities of players of colour, while it was also necessary to improve the quality of coaching and playing standards.

Dr Basson said that this was not just a political issue. The long term future of the game relied on an expansion of the human capital base. At a national level, the various South African teams, including women’s teams, had more than 50% black representation. However, there was a gap between these levels and the Springbok level. The question was why the drop-out was occurring. The same trend was also reflected at provincial level. The pipeline of black players was well stocked, but they were unable to break through to the highest levels in their provinces and into the national team. This matter would be tabled at the Council meeting to be held later in the week. The long term future of the game would be emphasised.

Dr Basson said that there was a divide between the north and south of the country. In the southern areas such as the Western and Eastern Cape, the regional demographics were reflected on the rugby field. In the Western Cape, 60% of players were persons of colour and in the Eastern Cape the figure was close to 70%. The problem faced in these areas was the development of quality players and administrators. The challenge was in how to deploy resources, as it was not necessary to sell the game in these provinces. However, in the north, less than 12% of players were black. It was therefore necessary to sell the game to these population groups. This was a neglected facet and it would take between five and ten years to overcome the neglect. In the meantime, the northern provinces would continue to recruit talented black players from the south.

He said that access to facilities was a countrywide problem. Resources were needed to correct this situation. Transformation was central to government policies in all three spheres. The challenge was how to change the profiles. At the over 18 level, both rugby and cricket had the same number of participants, but at the under 18 level rugby had twice as many players as cricket. There was a need for rugby and government to work together. They shared common goals. The composition of the whole squad had to be looked at, including players, management and the technical support staff.

The Chairperson said that the Under 19 situation was fine. The problem came in with what happened after these junior players reached a ceiling and vanished from the scene. This did not auger well for the future of the country. Rugby had to make a contribution to unity, social cohesion and nation building. It was a shame on rugby that this was not happening.

Mr Frolick observed that the situation with rugby was a bad reflection on the motion of support to be passed on the cricket squad. He asked if the common objectives of government and rugby were accepted by SARU. He could not remember when rugby had broken its trust with government. Any code had a role to play in the advancement of youth and the development of the sport at an amateur level. It seemed that the gap developed at professional level. This followed the same pattern as the first and second economies that existed in South Africa. In this way, the professional franchises could keep the wealth where it was, namely in their own hands. This situation was unregulated.

Mr Frolick said that the government could not allow reactionaries unfettered control of the playing field. Some hard sell had to be done to bolster transformation. This was not only at the playing level but also regarding coaches, leaders and even spectators. Captive audiences were being abused. He quoted the performers at matches at Loftus Versveld. He asked what their message was. It was important to respect cultural differences, but at the same time the celebration of a culture should not be an insult to other groups. He felt that a mature leadership should deal with these matters.

Mr T Louw (ANC) was happy that the TC had been adopted, but he felt that there was not enough enthusiasm in its support. Brian van Rooyen had been replaced by Mr Hoskins, but SARU was still only talking about transformation. It was clear to him that the rugby authorities were not in control of the game. The SARU leaders had been elected into their positions, but they were now being led. He said that the Springbok Sevens team was well coached, but he asked what happened to the players after being in that team. Rugby was controlled by conservatives and right-wingers. Rugby was being led by the people, and the executive was only a face. If the leadership was serious about transformation, then the Committee would not still be talking about transformation year after year. There was no commitment to transformation. It had taken Zimbabwe 20 years to make progress, and yet they were still only talking about including black players. Progress was being impeded. Change had to happen at the PC.

Gen B Holomisa (UDM) congratulated SARU for the standard of play in the Currie Cup. He hoped that the players who performed in that competition would be considered for the World Cup squad. There was a need to assist Mr Hoskins. He agreed that rugby did carry baggage from the past. There was a need to look at the selectors and coach. Many Africans and other players of colour were selected for squads, but did not get a fair chance to play. Mr Ian McIntosh was being bullied by the coach. He asked who had more power – the selectors or the coach. It was always the coach who explained why certain players had been omitted, rather than the selectors. Players had a fair chance up to the Under 19 level, but he asked what happened to them afterwards. They played well in the Currie Cup and at Sevens level, but could get no further.

Mr D Dikgacwi (ANC) said that transformation was a sore point. It was no excuse that a new President and Committee was in place, as there should be a handover process. There was a deliberate effort to exclude persons such as Luke Watson and Sevens coach Pieter de Villiers. African players were being marginalised. He stated that Luvuyo Matsha had not appeared before a disciplinary committee for his alleged offences, but was now was nowhere to be seen. He asked how many Africans and persons of colour were on the board of the five franchises. Referees were also being sidelined, and this led to frustration and resignation . After 13 years of integrated sport all the franchise coaches were white. SARU had forgotten about its mandate to ensure representativity. He predicted that the TC would go nowhere, as there was no sign of it being implemented. The millions to be made from the game were reserved for whites. Authority needed to be exercised over the coach. White players were rushed through injury recoveries in order to keep black players out of the team.

Ms N Ntuli (ANC) also welcomed the TC. However, there was still a long way to go before it would be implemented. The TC was not only about players. Transformation went with patriotism and had to do with the vision for the future. If the TC was to cover all levels and ages, then attention had to be paid to the situation where children up to 15 played rugby in the townships, but there was nothing for them after that. This was an incubator system. If the administration was untransformed, then the focus of transformation would be skewed. She said that a vision was needed as she did not think one existed. This should have to reflect the rainbow nation. There was talk about quality, but one could not differentiate between quality on the one side and quantity on the other. A challenge she saw was the development of resources. It was time to implement and monitor the TC. One could not compromise the quality of the country. The sporting fraternity should move together on this issue.

Dr W Basson agreed that implementation of the TC was too slow, but this was on its way. He agreed that resources were lacking. There were common objectives there. Individual codes could be taken to task, but there was no roadmap for sport. Each code should align itself to such a roadmap. There had to be common objectives for transformation. Rugby was a big contributor in this aspect. The process must be dealt with by observing and monitoring the process. There was commitment, but the base must be broadened. It was important to identify and sort out the gaps.

Mr Hoskins said that three people were involved in the selection of the national team, being the national coach and his two assistants, who acted as selectors. They worked jointly to select the team. He had never been aware of any differences on selections.

Mr Louw asked why all the Super 14 franchise coaches were white.

Mr Dikgacwi said that Dr Basson’s explanation was insufficient.

Mr Frolick analysed the Super 14 squads in the document provided. These did not make sense to him. It was clear that the Members of the Committee did not believe what SARU was saying. He asked how the President of SARU would heal the rift.

Ms Ntuli repeated that resources were vital. They were meagre at present, but resources for white players were at least being developed, unlike those for black players. There should be a balance. They had to move forward with what was available.

Mr Hoskins said that from the Super 14 teams to the Club Championship teams there was a problem with representativity. Some of the clubs were predominantly or even totally white. He did not want to make excuses for this. The situation was unsatisfactory and had to change. The real problem of player retention lay between the Under 21 and senior level. The top clubs were white. The clubs were private bodies. Whites were still generally wealthy and ran these clubs, which fed the players into provincial teams. The situation had to be tackled. It might be necessary for SARU to dictate to the clubs. In the Western and Eastern Cape the majority of clubs were black, but the white clubs were better resourced and produced the quality players.

Mr Hoskins needed to make a point by point response to the members’ questions. His general response to Ms Ntuli’s comments was that the problem lay in administration. This was one of the challenges that he saw. When he was president of the KwaZulu Natal Rugby Union, it was a challenge to find quality black leadership. It was there, but blacks needed to get involved in rugby administration. He agreed that there was conservatism in the PC. The challenge was again for people to get involved. There was a dearth of good administrators in South African sport generally. He could see on the PC that there was a lack of good people who were prepared to make sacrifices to further the game. People were happy to watch and criticise, but they needed to get involved.

Mr Dikgacwi returned to the Matsha issue. His demonstration had come to SARU’s attention. Three people had been assigned to investigate the case. He asked how black people could get involved if there was no support for them.

Mr E Saloojee (ANC) said that there were well-endowed private schools, mostly attended by white children. The culture of sport was related to the level of schooling. The private schools were a recruiting ground for rugby authorities. In order to get blacks involved, young black people should be invited to watch matches and to become involved with administration. Crowds were still predominantly white, and were mainly from a particular group. The larger transformation goal was non-racialism. However, the old flag was still being flown in the Free State. If the minority continued to dominate the sport, then the situation would stay the same.

Mr Hoskins explained how Indians had been pulled into the administration of the game in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). They served with distinction, even on the board of the Sharks, despite never having played the game. It was only in the three provinces, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KZN, where rugby was growing at school level.  In fact, schools in KZN had hardly been involved in rugby in earlier years. Rugby was a sport for everybody.

Regarding the Matsha situation, there had been a meeting in 2006. The meeting was to have been held at a club, but it did not happen. TARPA was splintered. The Lions Union had been confronted on the situation. There had been allegations of racism in the province, principally revolving around an incident involving a Soweto club. SARU had requested a full report from the Lions. Mr Matsha continued to be a member, and had represented South African rugby overseas. He was no longer on the judicial committee. SARU had asked for a report on the incident. There were two issues involved: firstly, was Mr Matsha removed from the judicial committee, and secondly, as a bona fide member, he would have had the right to demonstrate.

Mr J Prinsloo (CEO, SARU) said that he did not yet have the full report.

Mr K Basson (Vice-President, SARU) said that it was not appropriate to discuss the case of Mr Matsha.

The Chairperson said that parliamentary privilege applied to the Committee, and in fact Mr Basson could be forced to answer the Committee’s questions in terms of the Constitution.

Mr Basson said that SARU tried to have representativity on all its committees. Mr Matsha had been appointed as an International Citing Commissioner (ICC). However, this should not be seen as a permanent entitlement. He had demonstrated on Test match days, and had also written letters to SARU’s sponsors. These actions were in contravention of the Code of Conduct. He had been given the choice of being charged in terms of the Code of Conduct. This would have placed him in the embarrassing situation of appearing before the disciplinary committee. It was decided that he would simply not be re-appointed as an ICC. The numbers of positions had also changed. Where South Africa had previously had four ICC’s, this number had been reduced to two. There were many other people who could profit by the opportunity to serve in this position.

Mr G Fredericks (Chief Director, SRSA) said that there was a definite need for a sports plan. SRSA had communicated this need to Parliament many times. SRSA was busy compiling a plan, and the target date for this was November 2007. Wide consultation was being undertaken. It would not be an automatic answer to the problems raised, as commitment would be needed. When federations were engaged in transformation, the role of the provinces had to be appreciated. The provinces were very powerful in rugby. Progress in schools rugby was being retarded. An “Old Boys Club” existed. Often schools decided fixtures amongst themselves, and formerly disadvantaged schools were unable to play against the traditional school. If given the chance to prove themselves, the stars of the future would be able to display their talents.

The Chairperson said that in terms of the Constitution Parliament could demand information. If it was so sensitive then the meeting could be closed. The statistics on the Super 14 matches of the last weekend were disgraceful. Black players were being put back where the reactionaries thought they belonged, and this was rugby’s agenda. The PC was showing that they would not change behind the President’s back. There was no allegiance to the African people. SARU’s structure was not like that of the ANC. Change had to start with the President. He asked what was wrong with the clubs. They could not be allowed to subvert the process of change in the country. The BEE model should be followed. 

He said that rugby could not use the government for its own objectives. If SARU could not implement its own decision, then the sport would fail. It could not then implement any decision. People on the ground were angry. The provinces were almost accepting of the TC. It was a nice document, but he wondered if it would ever be implemented. The lack of transformation was illustrated by the way Mr Matsha was axed. Transformation was not only for the players. Coach Pieter de Villiers had also been axed. Any black person who looked likely to succeed would be dismissed. Mr Matsha should have been treated in his own capacity. The Committee respected the right to protest.

The Chairperson referred to the meetings in Port Elizabeth. Lawyers there were creating an anti-transformation bloc. The Committee would never let rugby commit this type of murder. Transformation had to apply in the administrative and coaching spheres as well. All should follow the same route otherwise the game could never be built. The current SARU leadership was not assisting.

Mr Hoskins undertook to give a personal and objective analysis of the situation in the Eastern Cape. Problems in the EP administration had become evident almost twenty months previously in the report drawn up by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

Mr Frolick said that the journalist Mr Mark Keohane was very dismissive of South African rugby. He asked why he was still contracted to SARU.

The Chairperson concluded that Mr Matsha had been dismissed because he was the first to protest against SARU. He asked if this was because of his skin colour. He thought SARU was being dishonest. Mr Prinsloo had attended the previous meeting with the Committee on the EP issue with a mandate from SARU leadership. On that occasion it had been understood that the mandate given to Mr Prinsloo was for the dissolution of the EP Rugby Union executive.

Mr Hoskins said that Mr Keohane was not a SARU employee.

Mr Komphela said there was no consistency in SARU’s decisions. The PC thought that Mr Hoskins was a pushover, and changed decisions behind his back.

Situation in Eastern Province
Mr Hoskins returned to the EP issue. Over the last two years a number of reports had been received which indicated maladministration and corruption in EP. The PWC report had accused the EPRU President, Mr Phillip Joseph, of being the main culprit. Mr Hoskins’s predecessor, Mr Brian van Rooyen, had chosen not to act on these reports. When Mr Hoskins had come into office he had sat with the same problem. He decided to take action in the interests of South African rugby.

The fourteen provinces affiliated to SARU were autonomous. SARU could not prescribe to them on certain matters, and so their hands were bound. However, in cases of corruption, SARU had a duty to deal with the matter. This had culminated two weeks previously in a decision to suspend the EPRU board together with Mr Joseph. Advocate Marcus Olivier had been tasked to investigate and to determine the guilt of the board.

Mr Hoskins said that during his period of presidency he had become aware of the Task Team that had been established in EP. This team had been formed from the need to change EP rugby. The game there was in a depressed state due to corruption. There had been a number of meetings and it became clear that it was necessary for the national body to make a decision to call on the EPRU Board to resign. This decision was taken by SARU Management Committee (Manco) and the PC during September 2006. There had been a subsequent meeting in Johannesburg between Manco, Mr Pat de Silva and others from the EP board. The EP officials had been asked to stand down at this meeting. However, EPRU subsequently took legal advice that indicated that SARU did not have the authority to make this ruling.

Mr Hoskins said that SARU had political support for its decision. Some parties were aligned to the EPRU while the people were aligned to the Task Team. There were also other issues. Manco then had to deal with the issue. The principal points were firstly that SARU could insist that the EP board resign, in line with Manco’s earlier decision. On the other hand, legal opinion from senior counsel said that SARU had no legal basis to implement this decision. SARU could therefore not be accused of making an about-turn on the issue. Legally, the decision made could not be implemented.

He had faced a demonstration when arriving at Port Elizabeth airport for a meeting. SARU could not implement its decision on legal advice. This annoyed the Task Team. SARU was finding this issue a hot potato, and it was not easy to handle. He had met with the Task Team and EPRU the previous week. He found that EPRU was shifting a gear and their attitude was very positive. The Minister of Sport and Recreation had said that the people must deal with the issue.

One of the problems in EP was that the historical boundaries were still haunting the authorities. A new demarcation process had been carried out to revise the unions, sub-unions and groups within the province and some toes had been trampled on in the process. There was also a racial problem. EPRU was denying this, but Mr Hoskins confirmed that it was there. Even though there was multi-racial representation on the board the problem existed. EPRU had to admit that the racial divides existed or else rugby would be destroyed. The success of EP rugby was crucial to the future of South African rugby. The racial conflict between the three groups there was dynamic, with the areas of conflict changing from time to time. EP needed to admit that the problem existed.

Mr Hoskins admitted that SARU had reneged on its promise to dissolve the EP board. The sport was in a depressed condition in the area. Sponsorship and business involvement was needed. White money had taken flight due to the corruption allegations. The political atmosphere was good but the economic situation was bad. EP rugby would have to put aside its racial differences. Officials must stop jockeying for power and nurture the sport for the children.

He said that discussions were being held with the Task Team and EPRU. A court case was in progress to determine the legitimacy of calling new elections. A hearing was scheduled for 8 March. This was part of a bigger issue. SARU awaited the result with hope. If all parties could work together he was hopeful that the situation could be turned around. He had pleaded with the EP executive to stand down, and thought that this might have happened sooner. People were trying, but perhaps not hard enough. The parties should be honest with each other.

Mr V Limba (Secretary, EPRU Task Team) sketched the reasons for the establishment of the Task Team, which had been done by the clubs. They had engaged with EPRU, had done their bit but had failed. The senior team was performing poorly and schools rugby in the province was dying. Three damning reports had been issued which indicated that all was not well. The reports would not solve the problem. They agreed with the suspension of Mr Joseph, but there was political authority behind him. It was not true that a resolution was imminent, but a T-junction had been reached. EP should be playing friendlies in preparation for the forthcoming season, but nothing was happening.

In response to Mr Hoskins’ complaint about the lack of black club officials, he pointed out that the six members of the Task Team present at the meeting were all black and were all senior officials at their clubs. They asked that credible people should be appointed to take over the management of EP rugby. He agreed to a degree that there was racism in EP rugby. There had been a racial fight at a club match between PE Harlequins and Police during 2006, and there had been a racist remark about the black coach of the EP senior team. This had been swept under the carpet. Then a league had been drawn up on racial lines.

Mr Limba said that business was failing to invest in rugby, and would not do so as long as there was still corruption in the administration. EP was in debt to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to the tune of R 3.4 million. A multi-purpose stadium was being built for the 2010 Football World Cup, but it would not be effectively utilised after 2010 unless rugby regained popularity. A solid basis was needed for the franchise, but the Spears could not become a reality under the present circumstances. The current EP leadership had brought the game into disrepute, and should be charged under the Code of Conduct. Legal opinions had been obtained, but the EP leadership was completely defiant. He asked why SARU was still providing financial report to the union.

The Chairperson said that the mayor of Port Elizabeth had been asked to cut off power to EPRU until its debts were settled. After this decision had been made, the PC had said that the Committee did not have jurisdiction.

Mr Limba said that court cases were not the solution to the problem. People wanted to play, as was shown in a tournament held in Despatch the previous week where all races took part. The Task Team was insistent that racism must not destroy rugby.

Mr Frolick said that the Committee had formed a well-considered opinion during the meeting with EPRU at the end of 2006. An interim committee had to be formed to run the sport for at least two years. The Committee still held this view. The Minister was the custodian for sport in the country, and his authority was being undermined. Two lightweights were involved who were not even ANC members. He had chaired a tense meeting on 10 December. The Minister and SARU President were clear in the views that SARU would disaffiliate EP if the current structure remained in place. The racist dynamic was there, and was being used as an excuse by the incumbent board to stay in power. To hold new elections under the current circumstances would only exacerbate the situation. Many meetings had been held, but the relationship of trust had been broken. There was no consultation between the Minister and the Committee Chairperson. The leadership of the ANC in sport was quite clear.

Mr D Lee (DA) said that the EP rugby issue came back again and again. A whole list of players had tried to unseat the EPRU board. They were not present at this meeting, and would not have support. Rugby should control itself. The EP authorities should remain in control, as a democratic process had been followed to elect the current board. Mr Joseph was being made a sacrificial lamb. He had been needled in an independent report. Politicians should stay away from sport administration. If he had broken the rules, then action should have been taken against him. It was sad that the Committee could not see the bigger picture. Player progress was being retarded. If hearts did not change, then no court decision could change matters. A solution was needed, but there had to be respect for the democratic process even if people did not agree with their actions.

Mr Louw said that politics was important in sport. There was a political imperative to address an abnormal situation. The government should have control of all sporting codes. It was a good sentiment that sport should be independent of government, but this situation was the reason for this meeting. A bigger mess had been created because of the lack of government interference in this situation. Rugby was a national sport, but he wondered if some people did not still see it as a white preserve. The parties were at this meeting in the national interest. He was in support of Mr Prinsloo, and the ANC thought that the decision made at the last meeting should stand. In a normal leadership situation, legal advice should have been taken before coming to Parliament to discuss the issue. In the interests of rugby in the Eastern Cape, in South Africa and in terms of representativity in rugby, a message had to go out. Elections at this stage would not provide leadership. He could not understand why SARU had not provided leadership.

Mr Dikgacwi said that there was a Minister and this Portfolio Committee for sport. He did not know why they were here if they could not correct what was wrong. He asked how Mr Matsha had been saved embarrassment. He should have been allowed to state his case. People were wondering why he was no longer on the scene, and an opportunity for him had been denied. Rugby still lacked representativity. Leaders must be prepared to take unpopular decisions where necessary, such as the decision to suspend the armed struggle. He asked how money could still be thrown into a bottomless pit. The President must have powers to intervene. Decisiveness would allow change.

Ms Ntuli said that a decision had been made by a higher body, and had been confirmed before this Committee. People were threatened by the body being disciplined. She asked why there should be funding if there was no support for SARU decisions. The EP leadership was leading SARU whereas the situation should be the other way around. She asked what measures were being taken to support the decision. The racial problems in EP should be discussed openly and deeply.

Mr Prinsloo said that a clear direction had been given at the last meeting. He had understood that all members were of the same view, namely that the EP executive should stand down and that no money should be paid to them. He asked if the Committee was still taking the same stance.

The Chairperson had made it very clear that the electricity should be cut off and EP should repay its debts. The Committee stood by this decision. He said that the Committee’s trust in SARU had broken down.

He said that injuries were a sad story. The goal of sport was not to see people die or become paralysed.

Rugby Injuries: Briefing by Medical Manager, SARU
Dr Ismael Jakoet, Manager: Medical, SARU apologised that the statistics were not in his presentation, as he thought these had been provided to the Committee during November. He drew a distinction between acute and chronic injuries. The acute injuries were those sustained during matches or practices and were a small percentage of rugby injuries, but sometimes had devastating consequences. The chronic injures were long term injuries.

He said that SARU had a duty to dispel the notion that rugby was an unsafe sport. There was a problem with the lack of first aid and support. Factors here were the costs and the lack of affordable training. SARU had conducted its own training programme countrywide, and some 2 000 people had passed through the programme.

The year 2001 had been a bad one, particularly amongst schoolboys. The main reasons were a lack of first aid, players returning to the game before injuries had healed completely and players being out of position. SARU had increased its contribution to the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Fund. It had set up the spineline, a telephone service to advise on correct injury treatment, compiled a coaches’ logbook and set up a rugby medic-club. A higher level course had also been set up.

Dr Jakoet said that in 2001 there had been four fatalities and four other serious injuries. In 2006 there were two deaths and three spinal injuries. What was as concerning was the number of near misses. He said there were several causes. Firstly, there had been cases of poor fieldside management of injuries by qualified personnel. Other reasons included players not having recovered fully from previous injuries, players being used out of position, unfit players taking part in social matches, poor coaching techniques, foul play and an increased competitiveness, especially at schoolboy level. An indaba had been held in August 2006 to discuss the situation.

One of the outcomes of the indaba had been the SA Rugby Player Wellness and Performance Programme. This covered grassroots to professional level. It was a comprehensive programme. He sketched the road ahead. The programme had been approved in January 2007. Board members had been appointed to steer the programme. A spinal cord injury research protocol had been put in place. Areas had been identified for injury prevention. Discussions had been held with the coaching department, which had seen a coaching accreditation system established. A Shark-smart programme had been launched in KZN.

Discussion
Mr Fredericks said that SRSA had also responded to Parliamentary questions regarding rugby injuries.

Mr Dikgacwi cited the example of boxing, where an insurance fund had been established to compensate boxers for injuries. He asked who beneficiaries of the Chris Burger fund were. It was the role of the coach to ensure that the players were fit.

Mr B Solo (ANC) was only learning about the programme now, although he played rugby himself. He asked why these methods were only coming to the fore now. It was a known fact that rugby players must be fit. He detected a lack of decisive leadership in dealing with this issue. These programmes should be made known to the masses.

Dr Jakoet said that the rugby authorities had looked at an insurance policy as long ago as 1992. The best offer at the time was R 50 per players, which had been deemed too expensive. The Chris Burger Fund looked after injured players and their families. In particular it provided for wheelchairs, scholarships and modifications to houses to accommodate paralysed players. The coach had responsibilities and there were other people to do the other jobs. This was not always the case, however, at lower levels of the game. It had to be appreciated that rugby was not just a contact sport but a collision sport. He would be studying a New Zealand programme that had reduced the number of neck injuries in schools. There was some problem in accessing schools rugby in South Africa as this fell under the former USASSA structures rather than SARU. There was nevertheless a moral and legal responsibility to address the issue of injuries.

Ms W Makgate (ANC) asked what happened to officials who did not comply with regulations.

Dr Jakoet replied that there were glaring weaknesses in regards to injury treatment. There were various offenders. No match should go ahead if there were no first aiders present. This was happening, as the laws were not being enforced.

Mr M Ncula (Deputy CEO, SARU) said that SARU and the schools should use the same format for preventing injuries. The Mass Participation Programme was working.

The Chairperson said that the referee was in charge of a game, and all injuries must be dealt with satisfactorily. If there was no first aid then the game should not proceed. The breakdown of injuries was only for professional matches.

Dr Jakoet said that insurance was non-existent at club level except at elite clubs that could fund insurance themselves.

The Chairperson said there was no school sport at present, but the Mass Participation Programme was catching up with the needs of the community. The programme had been sanctioned by the PC.

Dr Jakoet replied that the programme had been approved by the PC on 29 November and sanctioned by Manco on 24 January. It was an operational level document and the details still needed to be determined.

The Chairperson awaited the response by the provinces. He then expressed his concern with what had happened at Addis Ababa. South Africa had been invited to send an Under 15 football team to the launch of the Year of African Football. Instead of a representative team, the SA Football Association (SAFA) had sent the Orlando Pirates Under-15 team. This was not the proper procedure and had set an unwelcome precedent. ANC research showed there was a vibrant Under 15 league in Gauteng in which several Premier Soccer League teams had youth teams. A national side had recently visited France and this team could rather have been sent to Ethiopa for the occasion. He asked how this issue could be resolved.

Mr Fredericks said that the Minister had received the request to send a team. SRSA had then spoken with Mr Raymond Hack of SAFA, and asked him to prepare a team. The composition of the team was left to the discretion of the Minister and Mr Hack. SAFA would have to respond to the Chairperson’s query.

The Chairperson said that the request from the Minister was for a South African team to represent the country. He could not condone the act of sending a club team, as this could cause division.

SRSA Annual Report Presentation
Ms Elsie Cloete (SRSA) said that 95% of SRSA’s budget had been used. An amount of R241.5 million had been used for the planning of 2010 World Cup stadiums. There was a problem in the administration budget, where only 88.2 % of the money had been spent. This was due to the number of vacancies. There had also been a delay in relocation of SRSA’s offices, and this meant that there would be a roll-over amount. There had been some savings in that some programmes had been moved to the Municipal Infrastructure Grant. More than R13 million of R22 million had been committed.

Mr Makoto Matlala (CEO, SRSA) said that SRSA had received an unqualified audit opinion. There had, however, been several emphases of matter. He highlighted several matters in his presentation and the corrective actions that had been taken by SRSA. Monthly meetings were being held with the provinces. The Audit Committee was now functional. A fulltime employee at Director Level had been appointed to manage the internal audit process. Various regulations had been introduced to improve internal controls.

Ms Lulu Sizani (Chief Director: Corporate Services) said that the planning of integration had only started in November 2005. A skills audit had been conducted amongst members of SRSA and ex-Sports Commission members. There had been 187 posts on the original organigram, which had now been increased to 195. There had been engagement with the unions that had led to disagreement. The unions had not signed off the transfer agreement at first. From May 2006 the placement procedure had started. Problems with this process had caused further delays. SRSA had consulted the Department of Public Service Administration (DPSA). The next meeting had been in September, and the process was only starting now.

She said that there had been one stumbling block that had resulted in a grievance being lodged. Positions had been advertised during December 2006. Some positions had been filled. Many of the top management positions had either been filled or candidates were being interviewed. The Director General’s post had been the subject of a submission to DPSA and would be discussed in Cabinet. There were 23 vacancies that had been advertised internally. Horizontal placement had been done from Level 8 downwards. There had been seven grievances registered and eight posts were vacant.

Ms Sizani said that the Labour Relations division had been separated from Special Programmes. Staff placing was being done in accordance with the targets set in the Employment Equity Act. There were some transformation plans. Of fourteen employees at Deputy Director level, ten were white men. No disabled persons had been appointed at Levels 9 to 14, but this would be addressed as the posts were filled. Applications had been received.

She said the lack of capacity was being addressed. Temporary staff had been appointed to assist the Human Resources division. The labour relations division was a weakness, as all the posts were still vacant. DPSA could not help in this area. All the Human Resources posts were also still vacant. Former Sports Commission staff had been re-appointed retrospectively to May 2005. A work plan was being prepared.

The Employment Equity targets were 75% for senior management, of which 30% should be women. This translated to 15 out of 22 posts, of which seven had already been filled. Six of these were filled by women. The target for disabled persons was 2 %, which equated to four posts, two at lower levels and two at senior management level. SRSA was addressing the challenge of complying with these targets.

Ms Sizani said that the process should be complete by April. Positions in the 2010 Unit had been advertised and should be filled by the end of May.

Discussion
Mr Frolick remembered discussing the same issues the last time. Much had happened since then. The Department could now return to normality, and proceed with government’s work. Under the directorship of Professor Denver Hendricks SRSA had enjoyed a clean bill of health, and it was not too much to ask for a return to that condition.

Mr Solo was shocked to realise that there was no labour relations unit. He did not know how this could be outsourced, as it was a critical function. Outsiders could not help. After five years SRSA had still not addressed the equity issues. Only one black male was filling a Level 13/14 post.

Mr J Masango (DA) noted that SRSA was attending to the emphases of matter raised by the Auditor General. He asked why these issues had arisen so suddenly. He asked if the percentage of vacancies was reflecting the top or bottom half of the organigram. The audit function was important.

Ms Ntuli found the presentation clumsy. Issues of affirmative action and gender balancing were nowhere to be seen. There were only promises. She asked who was doing the work. The situation was unacceptable.

Ms Sizani replied that there was no structure for labour relations, human resources and communications.

The Chairperson noted that there had been a rush to repeal the Sports Commission Act. The Committee had not been happy with this, and had wanted public hearings on the issue. A lot of misinformation had been inherited. There was no communication on the infusion process and SRSA still had no communications officer.

Mr D Moyo (DG 2010 Unit, SRSA) said that this was true, and the process was flawed. He was not happy with the report that Prof Hendricks had presented. There was no framework to the Department. Personnel plans and agendas were lacking, and progress was being stalled.

The Chairperson said that there was no capacity. The Department had exploded overnight. There were no evaluation mechanisms. He wanted to know what should be done to revive SRSA.

Mr Solo said the signs were there, and perhaps SRSA was preparing for drastic steps. Perhaps all of this could be done in three months. A bosberaad was needed.

Ms Sizani replied that the Minister had said that outsourcing was the only solution. This was only a temporary measure, and the posts must be advertised as soon as possible. Posts should be filled by May. They had been advertised, but the recruitment process in the public service was lengthy. The Department would engage with the unions. The first option would be internal advertising. The Internal Audit section was a new component. Internal advertising delayed the process. For example, there were no suitable internal candidates in the field on integrated technology. There was no sign of language specialists. However, proper planning would go a long way. SRSA was meeting equity targets. Six of the 22 Senior Management posts were set aside for women, and four had already been appointed. Others had been advertised and candidates had been interviewed. There were still many vacancies, with 65 of the 195 posts still to be filled.

Mr Matlala added that the term of the previous audit committee had expired. New members had now signed the contract. This was why regular meetings had not been held. Candidates had wanted payments higher than those approved by the Auditor General, and some, including the Chairperson, had resigned. The Minister had recommended that three independent members from outside the Department serve on the committee.

The meeting was adjourned.


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