Right wing crybabies will derail the transformation train

2014-04-23 10:00

Transformation in sport is non-negotiable.

This was my reaction to the release of the transformation status report that was handed over to Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula by the Eminent Persons Group three weeks ago.

Any form of resistance to this call is as good as denying apartheid happened. And yet the right wing has come out guns blazing, threatening to take stern action to oppose the implementation of the 60-40 quota favouring the black majority.

Notably, among the noisemakers (or should I say denialists) are AfriForum, Solidarity and Freedom Front Plus. This is hardly surprising, judging by their track records. Their stand must be taken with a pinch of salt, or else the aspirations of the previously excluded will be betrayed.

This matter needs to be addressed aggressively for the nation’s benefit, and the attitude displayed by these right wing groups is shocking. They are behaving like spoilt brats, thanks to some post-1994 ministers who failed to take advantage of the political powers vested in them by the Constitution.

How long will the status quo remain because of a few arrogant folks when scores of players of colour are dying to represent their country at the highest level? In fact, transformation in sport is not limited to the field; it extends to governance, employment equity and preferential procurement, among other things. The

Eminent Persons Group report covered all these areas, but don’t be amazed if it turns out the right wing folks didn’t even bother reading the report.

Interestingly, the SA Rugby Union (Saru) did not supply any data on the category of coaches. Was this deliberate? You be the judge.

I’m not picking on Saru here, but its attitude is worrying. One of my learned friends tweeted this week: “The thing about SA, if selectors really picked on merit, one wouldn’t talk of quotas.” A colleague weighed in: “Coaches and team managers are the worst. They pick the teams and have them signed off.”

We all know the people who make up the Springbok selection committee, don’t we? Only a handful of players of colour have featured regularly in Bok colours over the past 20 years, and how many are in the national team setup today?

The threats to go to the equality court and international sports bodies are childish, to say the least. Being crybabies will not help you, my good sirs at AfriForum and your backup vocalists, in this backward song you’re singing.

No one ever said deserving white players would be excluded, but our sport federations should reflect the country’s demographics. In fact, the 60-40 quota is generous, given 84% of South Africans under 18 are black Africans, according to Stats?SA.

The Boks and Bafana playing at FNB Stadium on the same day to honour Nelson Mandela and a braai afterwards at Panyaza is not transformation. Neither is former president Thabo Mbeki flying all the way to France in 2007 to lift the Webb Ellis Cup with the predominantly white Bok team.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves. For two decades, we have been merely staging unity while not taking into account the lack of integration in our sport. We either embrace transformation together, or history will judge us unsympathetically.

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