Saru, Mbalula at odds on transformation

2014-04-15 09:48

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The transformation meeting between the department of sport and recreation and the SA Rugby Union, Cricket SA, Netball SA, Athletics SA and SA Football Association was a tense one.

The five-hour long meeting yesterday in Joburg kicked off with a hard-hitting speech by Minister Fikile Mbalula, who was firing on all cylinders, to the visible discontent of Saru officials.

Mbalula said the transformation agenda was not a fantasy but rather a reality born of the historical exclusion of the black majority.

During a presentation of the Eminent Persons Group transformation report, there were a lot of qualms, most notably from Saru representatives including president Oregan Hoskins.

Hoskins had to be cut off by programme director Max Fuzani after interjecting twice during the presentation by Eminent Persons Group board member Willie Basson.

Another Saru official was overheard saying “he [Basson] is talking rubbish”.

City Press has been reliably informed that the closed session that followed the presentation was dominated by a wrangle between Mbalula and Saru.

The minister was apparently not pleased with Saru’s “cynical” approach during the closed session and this could also be read from comments he uttered after the meeting.

“If rugby [Saru] is going to say ‘we cannot achieve this’, they must state why because the report was compiled based on data they supplied to the Eminent Persons Group. People are talking about some audit that is fictitious when they are supposed to face the real question of the big elephant in the room,” fumed Mbalula.

“There are some who told me during the meeting that the status quo will remain and I told them that there will be harsh consequences should they turn a blind eye to transformation.”

The consequences of failing to comply with transformation requirements include the government holding back funding and political support to federations that wish to host international events in the country.

Saru is reportedly planning to bid for the 2023 World Cup.

Saru chief executive Jurie Roux said the meeting was a good one, adding that Saru would not rush a decision pertaining to what was discussed.

He also emphasised that the definition of transformation and understanding thereof varies from one individual to another.

“Everybody debates transformation at all levels, but it depends on your definition of transformation. To me, transformation should be based on everything we do, the way people think and the way people act,” he said.

Roux said his federation was committed to complying with the transformation recommendations on condition that discussions with Mbalula and the Eminent Persons Group “lead to results that are amiable”.

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