Can KZNA get back on track?

2009-12-10 00:00

ATHLETICS South Africa (ASA) is stable, while KwaZulu-Natal Athletics’ president, Aleck Skhosana, and his executive will undergo interrogation­ by local clubs at tonight­’s general meeting at King’s Park in Durban at 6 am, before­ being assured of their future­ involvement in provincial or national administration.

The clubs have already questioned the executive members’ decisions and motives with regard to the restructuring of ASA following the suspension of president Leonard­ Chuene and his board by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).

The contradictory statement by the president that KZN delegates would be sent out to find facts and then report back will be under the spotlight, given that three days later Skhosana was the first to be appointed to the Interim ASA board under Ray Mali, the Sascoc-appointed administrator.

This concern has lifted the lid on other allegations of maladministration and on issues of financial stability, resulting in questions about Skhosana’s eligibility to lead at a national level. Skhosansa, like Chuene, is in his third term of office, something that Sascoc president Gideon Sam told The Witness he would like to see restricted, across the federations, to a maximum of two.

“Whether federations have two-year or four-year Olympic cycles, I would like to think we could limit any one person to two terms of office before they come back through the sport again,” said the Sascoc president at his one-year-in-office media briefing at Olympic House, Johannesburg on Tuesday.

No doubt this will become a discussion point for the conference of the country’s sporting federation presidents that is due to take place in the Free Sate in February.

Sam also emphasised the need for a democratic process to be followed during the election of the final athletics board next year.

“We have structures in each province and they must confirm, support and promote the nominations to the final athletics board,” he said.

Mali acknowledged that he has received both complaints and support for Skhosana’s involvement at national level and will listen carefully should the clubs in the province not wish to support Skhosana’s credentials.

This makes it a crucial night for the KZN executive, who will have to assure clubs that there are plans to rebuild a sport that is experiencing a drastic shortage of funds under the current administration. This is despite the number of high-profile events that include the massive Ladies’ Spar, Comrades, Yellow Pages, and national championships hosted by KZN and the large support provided by lottery and the Department of Sport and Recreation­.

Similar meetings around the country have seen the clubs replace other provincial presidents and executives for their actions and lack of consultation, particularly over the ASA suspension issues­.

Mali acknowledged the concerns over the financial situation of ASA, refusing to be drawn on the actual amounts involved.

“Yes I am concerned about the amounts still due to athletes and others, but I’m on top of it and am there to make sure everyone gets paid,” he said.

A positive is that the veteran cricket administrator expects to release a new ASA 2010 competition programme on Thursday or Friday and, while it is an open secret that Yellow Pages have agreed to host the track and field programme, there is much speculation with regard to the road-running championships.

Commenting on Sascoc’s overall progression towards the London Olympics in 2012, Sam said: “It [2009] has been a roller-coaster year, but if anything that has given me more passion for the future­.

“The most encouraging aspect to me is the fact that when I travel around the country, I get a very real sense that we are back in the business of taking sport seriously. The feedback I get is that we are back on track with running sport like it should be.”

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