I'm not imposing quotas: Mbalula

By Drum Digital
23 April 2014

Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula says the 60-40 quota favouring black players would not be imposed.

A 60-40 quota favouring black players would not be imposed on anybody, Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula said in Pretoria on Wednesday after meeting three minority groups. "Talking is not endless, but we need to find each other. I am not imposing any 60-40 onto anybody. I've talked to the federations," Mbalula said after a meeting with lobby group AfriForum, trade union Solidarity and the Freedom Front Plus. The meeting followed an announcement that quotas would be imposed before the May 7 national elections.

"I am not going to sit as a minister in government and ignore South Africans that have concerns about the positions we've taken."

Mbulula said he had an obligation to everyone.

"That is why I am happy about this meeting. At least I know what to do next."

On April 5, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and Mbalula announced far-reaching measures to address the lack of transformation and development, as indicated by a pilot study on the status of transformation in sport.

A report by the Eminent Persons Group on Transformation (EPG) indicated that South Africa had fallen behind in terms of transformation in the country.

The report indicated that at national representative level both cricket and rugby under-performed in that on average for all teams only 35 percent and 34 percent of the set targets for black African representation were accomplished.

While Mbalula steered clear of using the term quotas, he did say it was important to set targets for transformation in sport.

"There can never be redress or transformation without targets because you will have an open-ended process," Mbalula said.

"We are agreed about development and what we need to do. What we need to do is to close the gap and level the playing field."

The respective organisations welcomed the meeting with the minister and said more talks would be held to find a solution to the glaring differences in opinion on the quota system.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said while he appreciated the robust discussions, the three bodies made it clear that they were against a race-based quota system.

"We believe it is negative to the dreams of young people. They feel discriminated against, black and white," Kriel said.

"Where a child is not chosen because a team has to adhere to a quota system, we believe that is a form of racial discrimination that infringes on the dignity of young people of our country."

Kriel said AfriForum would report South African sports bodies to international sports authorities should they yield to racial quota pressures.

He said international sporting bodies prohibited any form of racial discrimination and government interference in sport.

Solidarity's executive officer Dirk Hermann said a quota system in any shape and form was unlawful. The Constitution did not allow for quotas, and the Employment Equity Act prohibited it, he said.

"We get the feeling that unions (sport federations) are forced to act unlawfully if you force them to apply quotas," he said.

"This undermines the Constitutional state and we ask thus for the minister not to continue with unlawful quota practices."

All three parties agreed there was a need to fast-track development in previously disadvantaged areas and vowed to give their assistance in achieving this.

-SAPA

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