Madiba was not the only change agent
Last week, City Press editor at large Mondli Makhanya turned his back on the Boks. responds
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