Report paves the way for action against ASA culprits

2010-08-21 00:00

THE release of the report on the South African Sports Congress and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) disciplinary hearing concerning the previous Athletic South Africa president, board members and three employees looks set to initiate civil and criminal proceedings relating to tax evasion, misappropriation of funds and corporate governance issues that will take months more to reach conclusion.

Technically, the report should clear the way for the Interim Administrator to initiate the election process for a new board to replace the current interim board of Athletics South Africa.

However, the outcome of the report and the diverse criticisms of the interim board and administration of the sport bring into question the logic in holding elections at this time.

Criticism has included selection, prize money, the loss of sponsorship, Yellow Pages point scoring, the proposed new competition calendar, and claims of provincial favouritism among others.

The proposed solutions are as diverse, with the only consensus being the need for a complete revamp of the way the sport is run.

The forensic investigation has uncovered problems and crimes in the past administration and the alleged culprits, who serve at national level, have each represented and had substantial impact at provincial level.

Given the constitutional structure of athletics, it would seem unlikely that such unacceptable practices were purely reserved for the national level of athletics administration.

This suggests that any elections held under the current structure and with the current provincial bodies would simply result in similar outcomes.

There are already voices who contend that the current interim board and administration are worse than their suspended predecessors.

Earlier this week the interim board was subjected to a scathing attack from the parliamentary portfolio committee during a meeting marked by accusations of racism, fraud and gross mismanagement.

The condemnation of the athletes commission under the acting chair of Arnaud Malherbe has been well publicised, and it is of course true that all current members of the interim board (James Mokoka, Blanche Moila, Pieter Lourens, James Moloi, Daan Louw and Aleck Skhosana) were long-standing members of their respective provincial bodies during the Leonard Chuene administration.

Even at the time of appointment there were question marks over a number of these members.

Initial members of the interim committee who had not previously been provincial members, such as Geraldine Pillay and Hendrick Ramaala, resigned stating they were unable to support the decisions being made.

All these occurrences must surely raise a red flag to the initiation of elections without some form or review of the current structure and processes.

If the grapevine is to be believed, then there are at least four presidential hopefuls who have commenced lobbying on the campaign trail.

Pundits put Aleck Skosana, now in his third term as KZN president and head of the province’s Academy of Excellence, as lead contender. They point to his recent trip to the African Championships in Kenya as indication of his seniority on the Interim Board and the opportunity to foster African relationships. Some have queried Skhosana’s involvement in the interim board as he had served on the national road commission under Chuene for years.

Another strong contender has been Dr Harold Adams from the Boland, but his multiple-hat involvement in the Caster Semenya saga, together with the outcome of the disciplinary hearings, is thought to put pay to any presidential campaign.

James Evans is seen as another of the potential presidents, but the Western Province president is said to be currently in conflict with members of the province, the Two Oceans organisation and ASA over the handling of the Cape Town Marathon which was initially awarded SA Marathon Championship status. He was first to resign from the ASA Interim Committee as a result of irreconcilable differences with Interim Administrator Ray Mali.

The fourth and arguably least contentious is said to be Motlatsi Keikabile from North West who was a member of one of Chuene’s previous boards, but is said to have been ous­ted for standing for a SASCOC position without “permission”.

Keikabile also serves on the Lotto with Ray Mali.

Given the history of the previous administration, which has proven flawed, critics have asked how the sport will change?

One useful contribution to the creation of a new dispensation may be a requirement for a forensic investigation of all the provinces or, at least at this time, the province of any person who stands for election to the new board.

An even more useful precursor to any elections could be a review of the ASA and provincial constitutions. In the unification process there was a need to put in checks and balances that would ensure the equity of representation until such time that the necessary integration had taken place.

The insistence of a 50% representation and allocation of individual votes to each commission and board member ensured continuity of office.

By example it would require over seventy votes from clubs if the KZN executive and commissions decided to vote each other back into office. Given that neither the AGM nor QGM have achieved formal quorums in recent years, the restrictive impact of these clauses is obvious.

All things considered, there is logic in any election for a new ASA commencing back at grass-roots with the election of provincial bodies. Provinces such as Gauteng North, Central Gauteng and Western Province, who have already had elections since last year’s upheaval could be omitted, but others would have the opportunity of an investigation and clean slate.

Any national candidates should come from and carry the mandate of the clubs. It is the clubs and athletes who experience first-hand the passion and knowledge of the members.

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