Comrades House finally resolves board impasse

2012-12-06 00:00

ALL is well at Comrades House again after a special general meeting at Scottsville Primary School last night put an end to the confusion that has surrounded the election of the Comrades Marathon Association’s new board.

The meeting had followed a disastrous annual general meeting on October 31, when board members Mac Chitja and Steve Mkasi stepped down, claiming that the voting and election of the new board that day had been unconstitutional.

That left the board of the world’s biggest ultra marathon with egg on its face and it was initially thought that last night’s meeting would be a re-election.

But after intervention by the national Sports Ministry, all the parties involved sat down together earlier this week and came to a compromise. The result saw all of last night’s nominations — for chairperson, vice-chairperson and seven board positions — filled without any opposition. No fewer than seven nominated members withdrew from the voting process.

Dave Dixon retains his position as the board’s chairperson thanks to Chitja’s withdrawal. But Chitja himself now takes over as vice-chairperson after Jeremy Boulter withdrew to occupy a position on the board.

Cheryl Winn, who had previously backed Chitja’s and Mkasi’s concerns about the misuse of the constitution in the voting process, is now the only woman on the board, while Mkasi has kept his seat.

There were stern words from KwaZulu-Natal Athletics president Sello Mokoena, who said the problems facing athletics in the province were seen at an administrative level and that what had happened to the CMA in recent weeks was unacceptable.

Dixon confirmed that on the recommendation of the Sports Ministry, the newly elected board would stand for only one rather than two years.

“We will hold a special general meeting next year, where we will amend any constitutional issues that need addressing and we will take a resolution to elect a new board at our AGM in October,” he said. “This has been a very difficult time for Comrades, but it is good that we have challenged each other and now we can move forward with the benefit of the race our sole objective.”

A far happier Mkasi said it would be difficult to challenge the current board at a constitutional level.

“I’m all for transformation and we have to work hard if we are to transform,” he said. “We have set ourselves targets for amendments to the constitution and we have our challenges going forward.”

Graham Mackenzie, who sits on the National Assembly’s sport and recreation committee, facilitated the negotiations between the two parties earlier this week.

He told The Witness that the iconic status of the race and the CMA had now been preserved.

“I sat with members of both concerned parties and we came to an agreement on Monday night,” he said. “We acknowledge that there are problems going forward, but it was a pleasure to work with the guys and come to a resolution.”

Three of the withdrawn nominees who The Witness spoke to cited “personal reasons” for their decision, while Terence Hoskins was overheard saying that “politics” were what had prompted his decision.

COMRADES MARATHON ASSOCIATION BOARD:

Chairperson: Dave Dixon

Vice-chairperson: Mac Chitja

Board members: Poobie Naidoo, Jeremy Boulter, Peter Proctor, Steve Mkasi, Cheryl Winn, Neville Thomas and Sifiso Nzuza.

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