Mbalula sets himself crucial goals to score

2010-11-07 12:39

Fikile Mbalula hit the ground running this week in his role as the newly appointed sports minister.

His office dispatched congratulatory letters to Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena on being granted the freedom of the City of London and to Makhaya Ntini, who this week announced his retirement from international cricket after a glowing career.

Oh! He also did not forget to change his voicemail from its ­ministry of police greeting to the ­latest one.

On Friday evening he took time out to wish Banyana Banyana good luck in their last group match against Mali today at ­Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton.

We caught up with him and posed the question of how he will tackle the 10 most pressing issues that his predecessor left hanging, which are:

» The fight between the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and Athletics South Africa (ASA) as well as tension between Safa and the PSL;

» Sports officials who grant them selves bonuses;

» Transformation;

» Development;

» Infrastructure;

» The quota system;

» National teams’ under-performance;

» Staging of major international events;

» Funding; and

» Squabbles in boxing and lack of TV coverage of the sport.

“We will first check what is the current position within the ministry as to how they have been handling these issues and then chart the way forward,” said Mbalula on Friday.

“Our vision is to see South African sports in a healthy condition with no squabbles and tension. Stability is the goal and only then will we be able to produce ­champions.”

On transformation and development, Mbalula said this must start at school level.

“Schools’ sport has become skewed in that you find the previously white schools are the ones that excel in sports such as cricket and rugby,” he said.

“If we are serious about development, we need to revive school sports and then we will have no problems with quotas as there will be a continuous chain of ­production.”

Mbalula said his department would soon introduce a programme to identify areas in dire need of sports facilities.

“Once this is done, we will roll out a programme of providing these, as funding is available since we have received €10 million (about R95m) in foreign funding for this purpose.”

He said a multi-purpose sports centre had already been built in Tshwane, using some of these funds.

Mbalula said South African national teams were not performing as badly as people perceived.

“You can see that with Bafana there is a turn-around strategy as they are now climbing the ladder in world rankings. Even their bowing out of the first round of the World Cup was not embarrassing as they played well.”

The minister said the cricket team was just unlucky and did not deserve the tag of chokers.

“At some stage they were ranked number one in the world. You can see that they have just been unlucky to lose when it matters the most,” he said.

The former ANCYL president said thorough research must be done before the country bids to stage international events.

“These must be staged only if they are going to benefit the country by generating funds that can help us alleviate poverty.”

Mbalula said about boxing: “It is in such a bad state that it needs immediate attention. It is a worrying factor that the country has not produced a credible world champion in a long time”.

He also bemoaned the situation whereby sports administrators paid themselves bonuses to the detriment of development.

“You cannot have a situation where 80% goes into the bosses’ pockets and only 20% goes to ­development,” the new minister concluded.

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