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’

CityPress - - Sport - S’BU­SISO MSE­LEKU sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za

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

PHOTO: CHARLE LOMBARD / GALLO IMAGES

TALK­ING TOUGH Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula has taken a tough stance on trans­for­ma­tion

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