National Sport And Recreation Amendment Bill: briefing

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Meeting report

EDUCATION AND RECREATION SELECT COMMITTEE

EDUCATION AND RECREATION SELECT COMMITTEE
6 June 2007
NATIONAL SPORT AND RECREATION AMENDMENT BILL: BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Mr B Tolo (ANC Mpumalanga)

Documents handed out:
National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill presentation
National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill [B17B-2006]
National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill [B17-2006]

Audio Recording of the Meeting

SUMMARY
The Department of Sport and Recreation acknowledged awareness of rumours going around that the Bill was perceived to be unconstitutional because it allowed the Minister to intervene in any dispute or alleged mismanagement that brought a sport or recreational activity into dispute. The Bill would allow the Minister to direct Sport and Recreation South Africa to refrain from funding federations that failed to comply with the decisions of mediators or directives from the Minister. The Department stated that the intention of the Bill was to seek the true base of the Constitution and the Bill was geared to sport transformation in the country.

MINUTES
Mr Arthur Manthatha, Director: Legal Services of Sports and Recreation South Africa, introduced the briefing, saying that the department was aware of rumours going around that the Bill was perceived to be unconstitutional. He nevertheless assured the Committee that it was from the outset, the intention of the Bill to seek the true base of the Constitution and achieve, according to international standards, what needed to be done. He also stressed the fact that the Bill was geared to sport transformation in the country.

Mr Gideon Boshoff, Legal Advisor to the Department, said that the Bill was intended to amend the National Sport and Recreation Act of 1998, to align its contents with the new governance structure of sport in South Africa. It provided for the deletion of the South African Sport Commission, the National Sport Commission, the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and other structures that had been closed down and recognized the Sports Confederation as the only non-governmental macrostructure for sport in South Africa. The Bill also conferred certain responsibilities that used to resort under NOCSA on the Sports Confederation.

Mr Boshoff explained the decision to use the generic description of a Sport Confederation in the new sport structure in South Africa instead of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).This would have the effect that SASCOC would not have to be amended as the Sports Confederation was inclusive of that role. The Bill also conferred certain responsibilities that used to resort under NOCSA to the Sports Confederation. He explained that one of the most important shortcomings in the governance of sport in South Africa was that the Minister had no authority to carry out his responsibilities but had to rely on the support and good will of the different sport federations.

Mr Boshoff outlined the powers to be given to the Minister. Regarding intervention, it was stressed that the Minister would react in the national interest on matters of a serious nature and not on trivial matters. He added that after attending public hearings in the provinces around the country, consideration was given to include various proposed amendments to the Bill. Regarding the total amount of funding that would be utilised for club development, Mr Boshoff mentioned the problem encountered with the Constitution regarding the right to privacy and how this issue had been addressed.

Mr Boshoff briefed the Committee on the inputs received from the provincial public hearings and explained some of the proposed amendments drafted as a result of these hearings..

Discussion
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that the intention of the briefing was to get clarity on the Bill and not to discuss the merits of the Bill.

Mr M Sulliman (ANC Nothern Cape) raised the issue of amendments. He queried the absence of the State Law Advisors and enquired if the amendments proposed would have direct impact on the Bill. He also requested clarification on why certain provinces had been sidelined or not consulted during the public hearings.

Mr Boshoff apologized for the absence of the State Law Advisor and explained that she was attending another meeting. Regarding consultation, he was not sure whether the provincial committee programmes did not allow for it.

Ms N Madlala-Magubane (ANC Gauteng) asked what the attitude of the sports fraternity was on the matter of the Bill.

Mr Boshoff said the guidelines were discussed with various role-players and they had raised their concerns. He reiterated that the national interest was at stake and that it was far better to include provisions in line with the Constitution and that transformation must be reported on annually.

Ms Lulu Sisani, Acting Director General of the Department of Sport and Recreation and Chief Director: Corporate Services, said that the attitude of the government was to provide funds to teams that were transforming.

Ms SisanI said that the Bill sought to guide the country to be on par with international standards. The Bill was geared towards sports transformation and was thus necessary.

The Chairperson queried the penalty clause and the grounds for intervention. He wondered whether the Government would only be able to interfere when it had been the funder and warned that that might put South Africa in the position of a lame duck.

Mr Boshoff referred to the misuse of funds, confirming that these punitive measures relate to the other funding as well. The Minister could with reason, choose not to recognize the status of funding organizations and promulgate this in the Government Gazette.

Mr Sulliman sought information on corrupt activities or mismanagement of funds and wondered how they would ensure that sponsor conditions were adhered to.

The Chairperson raised the issue of recognition with regard to the misuse of funds.

Mr Boshoff said that the misuse of funds covered a broad spectrum and that there were conditions that favoured such corrupt behaviour within a sports body. If the Minister did not recognize the sports body, it could exercise its role and endeavour to obtain other sponsors to revive itself. This would result in a dead end situation since an international body could take a stance on the issue which in turn could lead to lost integrity and make the maintenance of good relations difficult.

Mr Manthatha reiterated the good service levels required of sport bodies. He said that sport federations were in line with international requirements and that there was a fine line between intervention and interference. All actions should be in line with the prescripts of the Constitution.

Mr Boshoff said that the Department had met with the State Law Advisors to discuss the intervention clause.

Amendments to the Bill briefing
Mr Boshoff then talked the Committee through the amendments to the Bill.

Discussion
Mr Sulliman raised the issue of costs pertaining to dealing with disputes and wondered what would the implications for the state be?

Mr Boshoff informed the Committee that this was included in the Department’s budget.

The Chairperson was curious about the practice of importing players and whether this was done after the availability of suitable candidate in the country had been assessed. The Minister had to be satisfied that there was no other person with the same qualities and that there was no possibility of developing potential candidates. He emphasised the fact that this would lead to a legal problem.

Mr Sulliman suggested that the matter stand over to the next meeting after the Department had had time to consult with various other interested stakeholders to alleviate any further problems.

Mr M Thetjeng (DA Limpopo Province) also raised concerns about Ministerial interference regarding coaches. He wondered whether clubs had to get authorisation to recruit foreign people because he feared that the practice would create serious problems. On the issue of intervention in any dispute, he enquired if the Minister had to consult with the MECs. He also raised the broad issue of accountability of the provincial structures and wondered what the National Federation’s role in this regard was.

Mr Boshoff indicated that the Minister should not intervene in the selection or recruitment of any person.

Mr Thetjeng queried what the Federation could do to develop schools of excellence and if there were interventions, what codes would be applicable and what role the Department could play.

Mr Manthatha said that it was still the Department’s responsibility to maintain lower and medium level sports.

The meeting was adjourned.

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