Razzmatazz STICKS TO GUNS
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula calls aspersions that his tough stance on transformation is linked to 2016 elections ‘hogwash, nonsense and rubbish’
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was his old swashbuckling self, breathing fire and brimstone, as he threatened to take even more serious steps against sports federations that failed to tow the transformation line. “Those who are intransigent and do not implement the recommendations and meet their targets will feel the full might of the department as we will unleash our entire arsenal, which can even lead to a federation losing its membership as well as national colours,” he told City Press.
A confident Razzmatazz was not fazed by the heavy criticism levelled against him since releasing the 2014/15 Eminent Persons Group (EPG) Transformation Status Report on Monday.
Some critics have stopped just short of calling him a racist.
“There will be no absolution if federations do not stick to the agreements we entered into,” he warned.
The minister sent shock waves throughout the country and globally at the event called to release the report on Monday when he said: “I have resolved to revoke the privileges of Athletics South Africa (ASA), Cricket South Africa, Netball South Africa and [the] South African Rugby [Union] (Saru) to host and bid for major and mega international tournaments in the republic of South Africa as a consequence of the aforementioned federations not meeting their own set transformation targets, with immediate effect.
“I will review this decision when considering the results of the 2016/17 Transformation Barometer.”
However, some took the message with a pinch of salt, with some of the view that this was perhaps part of a political strategy leading up to the local government elections in August.
It was further watered down by Saru CEO Jurie Roux, who stated that the minister’s announcement did not relate to existing international events such as Super Rugby, the Springboks’ incoming test series, the Rugby Championship or the Cape Town Sevens.
“We understand and support the minister’s urgency in addressing the issue of transformation,” said Roux in a statement.
“There is no question that we have more work to do and we could be moving faster, but our sport has undergone a major overhaul in how we do business and how we measure ourselves in the past two or three years, and we have definitely made great progress.
“Transformation is a key strategic imperative for SA rugby to remain competitive and survive in the sports landscape in our country.”
The ASA, who were guarded after the announcement, were quick to arrange a meeting with the sports department. By Friday, an agreement had been ironed out that the ASA would go ahead with the hosting of the Confederation of African Athletics Senior Track & Field Championships scheduled for Durban from June 22 to 26.
It declared in a statement: “We thank the minister, the director-general and the department for the sensitivity they have exercised around this matter. We appreciate, in particular, that after our discussions between the two parties, the minister’s office threw their weight behind our hosting of the African Championships, which they noted should proceed undisturbed as it had already been in preparation long before the announcement of the minister on Monday.”
SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam, whose organisation had said they planned to meet with the four federations this coming week to discuss the report told City Press on Friday that they were not summoning them as “naughty little children”.
“We are saying to the federations, as our members: come, let us sit down, see where you have fallen short and let’s see how we can help going forward.
“Our stance is that we want federations to comply and stick to the agreements they have with the sports department and the EPG. We are saying that when you make promises, you must adhere to them.” He said no dates had been set for the meetings as yet. In his statement on the report, EPG chairperson Professor Somadoda Fikeni warned: “If the sport system does not explore, develop and equip the total available human capital resource base at its disposal aggressively, population demographic changes in progress will impact the sustainability of the sport system in the not-toodistant future.”
Mbalula insisted that transformation was not negotiable.
“Despite the insults, I am not going to retreat. It’s forward ever, backwards never. Only idiots will not understand that transformation is necessary in this country so that this issue does not become a burden for coming generations.
“Talk is cheap. It is now time to act. We shouldn’t even be talking about transformation right now. It should be happening automatically.”
He dismissed the criticism that the timing of the release was political and aimed at the upcoming local government elections as “hogwash, nonsense and rubbish”.
“We will release our next report around this time next year as well and there are no elections scheduled for that time.”
The EPG was born as a result of a National Sports and Recreation Indaba held in November 2011 that resolved that a Transformation Commission be appointed to fundamentally drive, closely monitor and vigorously evaluate transformation policies and implementation within the sports movement.
.For the full 2014/15EPG Transformation Status Report, go to city-press.news24.com
TALKING TOUGH Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has taken a tough stance on transformation