Madiba was not the only change agent

Last week, City Press editor at large Mondli Makhanya turned his back on the Boks. re­sponds

CityPress - - Voices -

Iwas un­der no il­lu­sion about the mixed re­ac­tion and vit­ri­olic at­tacks my media state­ment, re­leased af­ter the an­nounce­ment of the Spring­bok World Cup team, would at­tract from des­per­ate so­cial forces, as I knew they would ap­proach the trans­for­ma­tion de­bate in­formed by their own predilec­tions. But I was dis­ap­pointed in what, in my view, was a grotesque and ab­surd de­lib­er­ate fal­si­fi­ca­tion of the his­tor­i­cal record and dis­tor­tion of the sport’s trans­for­ma­tion evo­lu­tion by City Press editor at large Mondli Makhanya in last Sun­day’s pa­per (“A gi­ant flip at Madiba”, City Press, Au­gust 30 2015).

Makhanya’s en­try into what we con­sider a nec­es­sary trans­for­ma­tion de­bate is most welcome. How­ever, his en­try point of re­duc­ing trans­for­ma­tion to an in­di­vid­ual (for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela) cam­paign as op­posed to the col­lec­tive vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship of the ANC to build a na­tion and so­cial co­he­sion through sport is wretch­edly low.

His re­duc­tion of the trans­for­ma­tion agenda into dis­jointed events rather than di­alec­ti­cal pro­cesses in­flu­enced by our his­tor­i­cal re­al­ity of the two economies in our so­ci­ety and his ma­li­cious at­tempt to la­bel and blame the lack of trans­for­ma­tion on his imag­i­nary dis­ci­ple of Bey­oncé is the worst vul­gar­i­sa­tion and sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of a com­plex mat­ter.

Makhanya cre­ates a car­i­ca­ture of a Spring­bok that he de­cides to em­brace when it is con­ve­nient for him and to fight when not so con­ve­nient. In that state of mal­ady he ig­nores em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence and in­ter­ven­tions made to­wards non­ra­cial sport. Who would have imag­ined such hypocrisy? We un­for­tu­nately do not have Makhanya’s unimag­in­able lux­ury of at­tempt­ing to ca­su­ally and oc­ca­sion­ally deal with trans­for­ma­tion is­sues only dur­ing World Cups. Our pre­oc­cu­pa­tion and daily work is about the trans­for­ma­tion of sport and to this end the min­istry has made many strides in this di­rec­tion.

I think I un­der­stand that the lim­its of Makhanya’s pa­tience – and many oth­ers’ – have been tested. I also un­der­stand that he is suf­fer­ing from post-em­brace re­grets. The fact that we were los­ing the mo­men­tum in the trans­for­ma­tion drive was re­alised by the Na­tional Sport and Recre­ation Ind­aba in 2011 al­ready. We re­alised our sport- de­liv­ery frame­work and land­scape re­quired a thor­ough­go­ing re­view, fram­ing and re­fo­cus­ing. We did so fully alive to the re­al­ity that po­lit­i­cal free­dom alone was not the ul­ti­mate goal. It was to be, rather, the en­abling con­di­tion for the grad­ual build­ing of a com­mu­nity of sport driven by vol­un­teers, gov­ern­ment and sports bod­ies from the ba­sic grass roots to the na­tional lev­els.

I im­plore Mr Makhanya to spare a mo­ment to read in the main our first Na­tional Sport and Recre­ation Plan, the Trans­for­ma­tion Char­ter and its mul­ti­di­men­sional score­card, our base­line study on the sta­tus of trans­for­ma­tion in South Africa and the mem­o­ran­dums of agree­ment we signed with five fed­er­a­tions to­gether with the puni­tive mea­sures we will take for fail­ure to com­ply with fore­casted tar­gets.

Our suc­cess de­pends on ba­sic grass roots and or­ganic de­vel­op­ment of sport through the ac­cel­er­a­tion of a na­tion­wide co­or­di­nated and in­te­grated school sport pro­gramme and vi­brant club struc­tures. The lessons we learnt point us to ur­gent need for the ex­pan­sion and roll-out of an ex­ten­sive fa­cil­ity-pro­vi­sion pro­gramme, more so in ru­ral ar­eas and our town­ships.

Trans­for­ma­tion in sport has been mo­ti­vated (from 1992 on­wards) on the ba­sis of two sets of driv­ing mo­tive forces, the one be­ing moral, the other strate­gic. We, to­gether with many South Africans, em­braced the moral or al­tru­is­tic rea­son that trans­for­ma­tion is “the right thing to do” as a re­sponse to the im­pact of so­cial en­gi­neer­ing poli­cies on South African so­ci­ety.

The re­al­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with an in­creas­ingly glob­alised and com­pet­i­tive world have brought about a re­al­i­sa­tion that trans­for­ma­tion in South Africa’s case has be­come a strate­gic im­per­a­tive – the key to long-term sur­vival, pros­per­ity, and sus­tain­able com­pet­i­tive­ness.

We are do­ing this work mo­ti­vated by our abid­ing love of all our peo­ple and our al­le­giance to South Africa, not the friv­o­lous rea­sons stated by Makhanya – to show up at a party to send off our na­tional team with­out even lift­ing a fin­ger to sup­port and ex­tol the ath­letes.

Mbalula is min­is­ter of sports and recre­ation

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