Karate South Africa Progress Report on Interim Steering Committee

Sports, Arts and Culture

06 March 2007
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SPORT AND RECREATION

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
6 March 2007
KARATE SOUTH AFRICA PROGRESS REPORT ON INTERIM STEERING COMMITTEE

Chairperson:
Mr B Komphela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Karate South Africa Report to Portfolio Committee: 6 March 2007
Presentation on Karate SA Report to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee

2 Aug 2006 Karate South Africa meeting: Transformation in South African Karate: briefing


SUMMARY
The Committee met with Karate South Africa to get feedback on the introduction of the Interim Steering Committee in the provinces, and future plans. The sport had reached a crisis point as two separate organisations, Karate South Africa (KSA) and the Karate Association of South Africa (KASA), were purporting to manage the sport in South Africa. An interim committee had been set up on 12 August 2006 to unite the different Karate factions. However, at a SASCOC 2 March 2007 meeting, the interim committee President had had this interim committee disbanded and had called on SASCOC to place the sport under curatorship which it had done so. In response, KSA had passed a vote of non-confidence in the President of the interim committee and had resolved to restore the KSA executive elected during 2005 to administ the sport until the situation was resolved. Accusations of partiality were made against SASCOC, and of irregular payments made by the Department.

The Members resolved that the meeting should be reconvened in the presence of SASCOC and the Department to give them a chance to answer the accusations. It was agreed that the current Karate South Africa leadership had a right to obtain a legal opinion on their dispute with SASCOC, but they were requested to wait until after the next meeting. The Committee agreed that it would be too disruptive for the dissident factions to attend the next meeting.

MINUTES

The Chairperson commented that he expected to have a short and relaxed meeting. The Karate South Africa (KSA) delegation was introduced. It had been agreed that KSA would return to Parliament to discuss the challenges facing the sport. He had not yet reported to the Members regarding the different entities involved. The Minister had said that Karate’s actions had been dishonest, as they had attended a meeting but subsequently denied this. The problem had been coming for many years. Some finalisation had been brought to the unification process, and the dissidents had disappeared only to return to cause disruption later. The structure had now collapsed, and this was an ongoing story.

He said that the Committee was not aware of all the issues. There had been some actions in collaboration with SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), but SASCOC could not attend this meeting to explain themselves. He had spoken with SASCOC President, Mr Moss Mashishi. After the interim committee had been established, most of the dissidents had disappeared. There was resistance between the groups. There had been a move to unite the two sides, but a stalemate had been reached. The meeting had been adjourned, and the two groups had been sent off to reach agreement. It was difficult for the two camps to reach consensus. Eventually, an interim committee was selected by the toss of a coin to merge the two committees, with an equitable distribution of the portfolios.

It had then been up to the groups to merge and to audit their assets. Finally, a date had been set to inform the provinces and affiliates. A unified structure was thus launched to guide Karate to a unified Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled for June 2007. If the Committee had not participated then it was up to SASCOC to exercise responsibility over the process and planning the way forward.

But other problems had been raised before the AGM could be held. Mr Komphela had received many messages suggesting that there were ongoing problems. He did not know how the Committee could resolve the issues which had been raised. One of these was about an overseas visit made by the KASA President. This must have been approved by SASCOC. They had assisted his travel arrangements, which had exacerbated the problem. The other group had then thought that SASCOC was opposing them, which had led to more problems.

The Chairperson said that it had been agreed that there would be only one spokesperson. The existing one would remain in office. Both parties had agreed to this. This person was only acting as a Public Relations Officer, and was not dealing with the problems.

Two or three weeks ago the President of the interim structure had expelled the Secretary. This could not be done. Such a decision could only be taken by the Executive Committee (Exco) under circumstances which would justify the decision. This was not a call which could be made by a single person in a recognised structure.

The Chairperson had told the President that he was making a mistake, but the decision had already been made. A message had been sent to the other group which was suspended. Confirmation had been given that this was the case. A major blow was thus struck to the unity talks, as trust had disappeared. SASCOC already knew the position, and it was now back to square one. Negotiations had been in bad faith. A meeting had been planned in any event to discuss progress towards unity and arrangements for the AGM. Karate had done what Rugby had done by taking a decision and then changing it.

He referred to the arguments of Democratic Alliance's spokesman, Mr T Lee, as being simply cheap political rhetoric. The new legislation did not say that it would give the government control of sport. No minority would tell the government what to do. He was getting annoyed with this attitude.

The Committee was part of the discussion when unified Karate was still in the incubator stage. The dissident group could not achieve its goals, and when their members were not elected they would complain. Karate people were themselves rebellious. The other group would not meet with the Committee despite having being called. They were pursuing other fora.

The Chairperson had discussed the matter with SASCOC President, Mr Mashishi, who agreed that the procedure was irregular. The Committee’s intentions must be signalled. The issue needed to be finalised. He did not think the current developments would help the process, and the actions were subject to review. The issues seemed to be that of economics and a power struggle. One man of Indian descent had represented South Africa at the conference where it was expelled. He denied that this had happened. The Committee needed to determine what had happened. The ban had been uplifted after four or five years. People were given responsibility, but then acted on personal rather than collective feelings. While the Committee supported the unity process, it had never told Karate authorities what to do.

Statement by Karate South Africa

Mr Cass Sehloho (KSA President) thanked the Committee for its invitation. The cordial atmosphere in the room before the meeting had settled his delegation, as they had felt like  pupils called to the headmaster’s office. The Chairperson had said that the President of the interim committee had suspended the Secretary. Not only had he done that, but he had disbanded the entire interim structure. He had a letter to prove this. This was an illogical step, and in utter defiance of the organisation sponsored by the Committee.

In the letter, it had been suggested to SASCOC that KSA be placed under curatorship. SASCOC had paid for the flights to enable the leadership to attend the meeting, but they had been treated like criminals on arrival. KSA had organised a meeting in the Cape the previous week to discuss unity in the Border region. This was scheduled for Thursday, and the SASCOC meeting was on Friday. KSA had sent a letter to SASCOC to postpone this meeting. They had been told by the Secretary of SASCOC that the meeting would continue in any event. The meeting was also announced to the dissident groups, and three of them had attended. This surprised him. In the letter announcing the disbandment of the interim committee, it had also been suggested that KSA be placed under curatorship, a suggestion which SASCOC had implemented. He now doubted SASCOC’s good intentions.

Mr Sehloho said that other functionaries might be involved. It was clear that the delegation supporting Mr Imtiaz Abdulla was from different groups, which represented provinces and different styles. There were ten full contact organisations and over twenty semi-contact groups who were all followers of his Mr Abdulla semi-contact style. This highlighted the inconsistency in his support base.

He then read a prepared statement: KSA was very excited to be at this meeting. They had been afforded the opportunity to brief the Committee on KSA programmes, and on the lack of progress in the unity procedure. The organisation was an ecological system. He would deal with the whole environment. It was KSA’s fervent and firm belief that judgements and decisions could not be understood unless the full picture was understood. The report was based on a brief history of KSA, the traditional underlying organisation and the adversarial relationship which existed. KSA was geared towards the release of human potential. The athlete was the chief participant. KASA had wanted to control and direct people in its own self-interest. It lacked a constituency, which was evident by its lack of formal structures. There was a negative influence from SASCOC. It had never monitored the situation and communications were poor. Many messages had been sent to the SASCOC President, Mr Mashishi, none of which had been answered. In contrast, Mr Komphela had always returned messages. KSA would continue with its tournament programme. There had been a lack of leadership. There was no money for overseas visits, yet the President had manipulated an organ of state to achieve this. He, as KSA President, had not even attended the meeting in Finland.

Mr D Dikgacwi (ANC) asked if Mr Abdullah’s semi-contact style was from the group that was not present. He asked what the style was in terms of standard Karate worldwide. Clarity was needed on the KASA President’s visit to Finland. It seemed that he had approached SASCOC, who had paid for his trip. The Chief Director of Financial Policy And Liaison Support in the Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA), Mr Greg Fredericks, should report on this matter.

Mr E Saloojee (ANC) said that it was obvious that there were two deeply divided groups. He could not understand why the major body, SASCOC, had not intervened to bring the two factions together. It seemed obvious that there were elements which did not want unity. The Committee must delve to see what the problem was. There were issues of lack of confidence, infighting and personal ambition at play. He asked how the chaotic situation could be unravelled. Some idea was needed of where the stumbling blocks lay.

The Chairperson said that the report would touch on many issues. He requested KSA to respond initially to questions regarding style and funds.

Mr L Beech (General Secretary, KSA) said that Mr Abdullah was the international representative for the IKKO style, which had its international office in Japan. Of the four members on the other side of the dispute, two were directly affiliated to Mr Abdullah’s group, and the other two were associated with them. He was unable to find any evidence of a constituency for KASA. He had asked for the minutes of the meeting where the group had been formed, and for its membership, but this had not been forthcoming for a year. This had led to the current position.

He said that the KASA President, Mr Bonny Motsa, had been questioned on his return from Finland as to the source of his funding.  He had said that he had approached Mr Fredericks directly, who approved the money. Mr Motsa had been asked for proof of his funding application. There was no evidence of this application. He suspected that evidence may have been lost or destroyed as a way out of answering this question. He suspected that the request had been routed through SRSA. The Treasurer had no records either.

Mr Dikgacwi asked if IKKO was a recognised body.

Mr Beech replied that KSA did not have style groups, but only provinces. The style groups were affiliated at provincial level. Mr Abdullah’s style group was not affiliated to any province; therefore they represented themselves as a national body.

Mr B Dhlamini (IFP) asked that KSA pardon his ignorance but he needed clarity on what they were dealing with. The interim structure had been invited in the midst of certain developments. He asked what the Committee’s position was and what its attitude was towards the appointment of a curator by SASCOC. The interim committee was a recognised structure, but was now disbanded. The IFP had had reservations on the formation of SASCOC. He was worried where KSA now stood with SASCOC. The Committee needed to make a stand on this issue. It must listen to the interim committee, but must also handle what had been done at SASCOC level.

The Chairperson said this was a very important question. He still stood by the mandate which had been given to Karate. He was now being told of what the problem was. Mr Motsa’s actions could not be correct, as the matter should have been communicated to the Committee years previously. The letter had been sent four weeks previously, and there was now no interim committee. There had been no communication on this issue. The relevance of this meeting was that it appeared as if KSA was bringing a petition to the Committee. The Committee stood by the decisions made previously. The other view could also have been aired. One person could not have the power to suspend members or disband the organisation. SASCOC had not dealt properly with the matter. They should have observed how matters were unfolding. SASCOC would have to explain its actions to the Committee, with the affairs of KSA as a central point. It was not coincidental that curatorship had been imposed. The Committee’s position was that it respected the interim structure. This was the basis of the invitation to the KSA delegation. He asked if they were on track with their preparations for the AGM.

Mr Dhlamini said SRSA should be asked about their involvement with Mr Motsa’s Finland trip. Something was fishy. Facts were needed. The requisitions for the journey should be made available.

The Chairperson said that SRSA would be asked for their side of the story. Information must be provided. The issue should be finally resolved with SRSA, with SASCOC and KSA present. The interim structure would be invited together with the other group.

Mr Peter Thage (KSA Public Relations Officer) said that he had travelled internationally, initially under the colours of NAKA and then KASA, and had also represented the country in different styles. Full contact Karate was practiced mainly by black fighters and in the rural areas, while semi-contact Karate was practiced by white fighters. He had been given his national blazer two years after KASA had been established. It was a pity that SASCOC was not present. When KSA had been formed, all involved had been excited. There had been a move for full and semi contact disciplines to work together. He was disappointed when the semi-contact fraternity had caused the current situation. It pained him, but if there was no resolution then KSA would have to fight for justice.

Presentation: Karate South Africa

Mr Leon Beech (General Secretary, KSA) wanted to place on record his sincere thanks and appreciation to the Chairperson for his efforts to resolve Karate’s problems and for his personal attention. KSA was indebted to him.

He denied that Karate was in chaos. He did not intend to go through the full report which he had submitted, but it listed all Karate activities in the past year. These activities had continued despite the leadership chaos. KSA had a duty to act in the interests of both junior and senior athletes. Teams had been sent to the World Championships in Finland and the Zone 6 tournament.

Mr Beech reported on KSA’s situation. An indaba had been held some years previously. The then Minister, Mr Balfour, had summonsed all Karate bodies in South Africa to a meeting during 2003. A steering committee had been appointed. This had been a pre-emptive move to get South Africa back into international competition, and membership of the World Karate Federation (WKF) was restored. The Minister appointed the Sports Commission to supervise the elections which were held on 26 February 2005. All groups were party to this and had contested the various portfolios. However some of the groups had been unsuccessful, and had withdrawn to form Karate Association of South Africa (KASA). A SASCOC general assembly was scheduled for 19 March 2006, but the day before it was announced that there was an objection to the membership of KSA. The body then had to accept a compromise arrangement to secure its membership at the general assembly.

Mr Beech said that the same thing had happened in 2007, when the curatorship arrangement was announced the day before the SASCOC general assembly meeting on 2 March. Twelve letters had been sent to SASCOC, none of which had even been acknowledged. Numerous messages had also been relayed via SMS and email, but there had been no response. However, SASCOC had still held regular meetings with Mr Motsa during this period.

On 2 August 2006 KSA had been given an audience with this Committee. They had sacrificed in allowing Mr Motsa to be elected as president. The contents of the minutes indicated the professional approach which it had followed. The other group did not attend this meeting, submitted no information nor did it show any interest.

On 12 August 2006 there had been a meeting at which Mr Komphela had been present. SASCOC had attempted to resolve the situation. KSA had accepted the toss of the coin resolution although it was a bitter experience, but it had attempted to move forward. The minutes of the meeting had been doctored by SASCOC. In the original minutes, it was noted that the Treasurer would be given signing powers over the account. A later version of the minutes included the President as a signatory. He asked where the good faith had gone.

Mr Beech said that even after his suspension, he had still not received a letter from the SASCOC President despite the rest of the world knowing. On 22 January 2007 a letter had been sent to the Chairperson announcing that the interim committee had been disbanded. KSA therefore no longer had a name. A special KSA National Executive Council (NEC) meeting was called for 10 February 2007 which was in line with the Constitution. All provinces were present and the future was mapped out

All KSA activities for 2005 and 2006, both at national and international level, were tabled in the main report. Despite the leadership battle, the show was going on. A series of meetings had been held, including a planning workshop in July 2006, general council and management committee meetings. Membership of the world body was assured. He was not sure if any of the other individual bodies were members of UFAK, the African Continental Body. SASCOC had done nothing about this.

Mr Beech said that membership of Zone 6 had been secured, and a team had taken part in the tournament in Harare. The 2007 event would be held in Angola. A team was sent to Finland for the world championships while delegates had attended the world conference. The performance of the team in Finland was not very good. Mr Motsa had attended the conference but not a subsequent meeting with UFAK which was held over the same period. A number of African countries had been in attendance.

He felt that Mr Abdulla’s influence should be removed from UFAK. Mr Abdulla had arranged his own conference and African championships to be held in March. He was involved with other continental events, but no protocols existed with KSA. Mr Beech was sure that Mr Abdullah’s contacts within SASCOC allowed him to do as he pleased. He had been threatened with suspension. The world body was interested in the situation as African Continental Karate was also in chaos. In South Africa two separate organisations were purporting to manage the sport.  The world body supported referee and coaching development clinics.

The South African team had won the most medals in the Zone 6 tournament and the country also played a leading role in the administration of the Zone. Some of the four most significant issues facing KSA were the preparation of teams for the All Africa games and the process of identifying talent to form an integrated squad. They were focussed on producing a squad that was not all white. SASCOC had imposed a sanction on KSA. SASCOC was funding High Performance (HP) training. Mr Reddy had said that there were no activities, and the inclusion of Karate at the All Africa Games (AAG). The HP programme catered for both full and semi-contact disciplines, even though full contact Karate was not offered at the AAG.

Mr Beech said that all had gone well until the end of 2006. On 22 January 2007 he as the General Secretary had been suspended as he was "doing too much work". The KSA structure had been disbanded with immediate effect at the same time. This left the sport with no operational structure. The NEC had been summonsed for a meeting on 10 February 2007, and the minutes of this meeting were included in their report. A motion of no confidence had been passed against Mr Motsa. The NEC had approved a move back to the original management structure, and an urgent meeting had been called with SASCOC. This request was included in a letter sent on 12 February, but no reply had yet been received. A meeting had been requested with the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, who had also advised them to seek a meeting with the Minister.

In the meantime the schedule of activities for 2007 would proceed. There had been no communication with SASCOC bar the advice of the implementation of curatorship which was given on 2 March. KSA had been invited to an urgent meeting on 2 March, notice of which was given on 1 March. The meeting had been intended to inform KSA regarding a meeting between SASCOC, the Minister and the Chairperson of the Committee. The minutes of the meeting repeated the same statement. The Minster knew nothing of the agreement to hold the meeting. KSA was told of the appointment of the curator and "was excluded from the meeting". The President was also not allowed to attend. Information from the general assembly meeting was that SASCOC had been instructed to appoint a curator. KSA wished to register its disagreement with this decision, as they saw it as an example of partiality on the part of SASCOC.

Mr Beech said it was KSA’s opinion that members of the SASCOC Board were biased and held partial views of the situation. Their actions benefited the other group.

He said that KSA, in the format of the delegation attending the meeting, rejected the resolution of SASCOC. KSA had sacrificed to the maximum to accommodate the other group. They had a responsibility to athletes in both disciplines. They wanted no further interaction with the KASA group as their previous relationship was marked by lies and deviousness. KSA wanted to go to the AAG, and requested help from the Committee to achieve this. Officials were being sent to the WKF development seminar. KSA wanted to be part of UFAK, and needed to have its membership reinstated. He underlined the fact that KSA and SASCOC had the same motto, namely ”Athletes first”.

Discussion

The Chairperson complimented KSA on a fascinating report. The compilation was professional.

Mr Dikgacwi proposed that the meeting should be adjourned at that point. A lot of things had been said, and the Committee should have SASCOC and SRSA present for further interaction. The Chairperson always reminded people of the constitutional obligation for parties to respond to a summons from the Committee. The other four groups should be brought to the Committee as soon as possible. It was not proper to continue to discuss these issues in their absence. A speedy meeting was needed. If the meeting was called and any party did not attend, then further action could be taken.

The Chairperson accepted this proposal.

Mr B Solo (ANC) supported Mr Dikgacwi’s proposal. However, he suggested that heads of argument should be made available to the Committee before the meeting, which would outline the factual aspects of all three parties.

The Chairperson was happy with the documentation presented by KSA, and said that the other parties would need to submit similar documentation. The Committee could not afford to show favour to any one party.

Mr Noah Bhembe (KSA Treasurer) asked what would become of the athletes in the meantime.

The Chairperson replied that the meeting would be held in a very short time. A date would be set within a week. This would be the shortest disruption possible.

Mr Gabs Mtshala (Karate Eastern Cape Secretary) said that information had already gone out to the athletes. He agreed with the proposal to adjourn the meeting. KSA had agreed to take legal action against SASCOC. The delegation needed to caucus at that point, and asked if the Chairperson could adjourn the meeting temporarily. They needed to finish the battle at this level.

The Chairperson agreed, and called a five minute break. He asked the delegation not to be intransigent in their deliberations, but to deal with the matter in an honest way. The Committee would want to assist if a legal battle was incurred. A brief recess was held.

Meeting resumed:

Mr E Ntshili (ANC) asked what the status of Karate was in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), as felt the situation was floating. They were part of KSA, but there were divisive elements. Nothing was being done about these people. He knew what was happening there and was prepared to get involved.

Mr Beech said this issue was part of the Chairperson’s mandate to KSA to visit the country. There was an urgent need to visit the provinces, with KZN one of the most urgent. Three visits had been scheduled, but that not been done due to other problems. They had visited the Boland from 2 to 3 March were there was an outstanding issue in the Western Cape. KZN was next on the agenda. The provincial department would facilitate a meeting with the KZN organisations. Only one KZN team would be accepted at national championships and not three. They tried to send all correspondence through the office of the Chairperson. He appreciated Mr Ntshili’s offer.

The Chairperson confirmed that all information be channelled through him so that Members could be deployed optimally. Problems in KZN had to be address. KZN had three different bodies while other provinces had two.

Mr Sehloho said that KSA was not fond of changing things. Every appointment would be honoured. His organisation had a duty to serve, and all its members were volunteers. There was a service consciousness, and a culture of successful people who could detach themselves from attachments. Their portfolios were transient. They would respect a resolution of the problem and would not accept partiality. He agreed that an urgent meeting was needed. The meeting should be with the KSA members present, the Committee, SASCOC and SRSA. They did not want the four other bodies to be present. They could not deviate from their decision.

Mr Sehloho added that KSA reserved the right to take legal counsel on their dispute with SASCOC. KSA’s image had been tarnished by the pronouncements on 2 and 3 March 2007. The imposition of curatorship implied that KSA was guilty of untoward behaviour, be it financial or some other form of misconduct.  This would cause the members to lose confidence in their leadership. It was right not to deal with Mr Motsa, who had defied the KSA committee. The evidence of this was the letter disbanding the interim committee. The four organisations had withdrawn from the interim structure. They had no national constituency and no assets. They had no purported assets and no liabilities, and did not constitute an authentic body. They only interacted with specific styles. They had been party to elections, but had failed and set up another body. He thought they were liable to do this again if they were reintegrated into KSA. He wanted no dealings with them.

The Chairperson took the point. The Committee would not attempt to change the decision of KSA as a result of the vote of no confidence in the previous President. They should not fear, but he did urge KSA to withhold any legal action until the next meeting. They could proceed if the impasse continued. The meeting would be held with KSA and SASCOC, but not SRSA. A later meeting could perhaps be held to sort out any issues of resolution.

Mr Sehloho said that KSA had taken a decision to go directly to the Minister.

The Chairperson said they could do this, but the Minister would ask them what the Committee was doing about the issue. He hoped the matter would be resolved within two weeks.

Mr Sehloho said there would be a serious problem if discussion took place in the presence of the dissident groups.

The Chairperson confirmed that they would not be invited. If the situation demanded it, then they would be called separately.

Ms N Ntuli (ANC) welcomed the resolution taken by KSA. The doors of the Committee were open to all. If the other parties did not wish to communicate, then that was their right, but if the Committee felt it necessary, it would get all parties together.

Mr Dikgacwi asked for clarity on the vote of no confidence in the President of the interim structure, Mr Motsa

The Chairperson replied that the interim structure was an amalgamation. The decision of the dispute resolution conference of 12 August 2006 had been put aside. At the KSA NEC meeting of 10 February 2007, the vote of no confidence had been passed. Therefore the KSA Executive Committee elected at the 2005 meeting had been restored.

Mr Dikgacwi said that the meeting of 12 August had put aside the 2005 issues. That decision was now being reversed.

The Chairperson said that the interim structure was gone. There was no structure left, therefore the situation had returned to the position of 2005.

Committee business / programme
Mr Komphela read a letter received from the CEO of Cricket South Africa in response to the motion of congratulation which had been tabled in the National Assembly on the announcement of the squad for the World Cup. The letter stated that Cricket SA had asked for time to allow transformation to succeed at a time when only coloured, white and Indian players were in the team. Over the eighteen month period a commitment had been made to fielding a squad with 50% players of colour, and the World Cup squad had seven players of colour out of fifteen. This was the only organisation honouring its commitment. Progress should now be made towards fielding a black team.

The Chairperson said that Committee would be visiting the Eastern Cape from 8 March for public hearings.  It would also visit the site of the World Cup stadium. A conference had been called with the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro sports council. A single sports council would be launched on 10 March. It was pleasing that the Committee’s advice on the integration of the councils in the area was being taken to heart.

The meeting was adjourned.

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