Crucial weekend meeting to determine future of KZN Athletics

2012-04-20 00:00

THE credibility, integrity and future of athletics in KwaZulu-Natal face their biggest test tomorrow when the provincial structure holds its quadrennial general meeting (QGM) and elections at the Sahara Kingsmead Cricket Stadium media rooms in Durban at 9 am.

Under the presidency of Aleck Skhosana, KZN Athletics (KZNA) has proven cases of fraud, corruption and mismanagement, abuse of National Lottery funds, incompetence and malpractice.

Yet the executive, comprising Skhosana, Blanche Moila, Patrick Hlongwane, Mangethe Zwane, Logan Naidoo and Dees Govender, have ignored calls from the clubs to hold meetings, take action or be accountable for their governance or lack of it.

Pietermaritzburg-based Peter Proctor is automatically a member of the executive as chairperson of the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA).

The situation with Sipho Mkathini is somewhat confusing as he was initially reported to have resigned from the executive along with Athletes Commission chairperson Willie Mtolo. However, he returned to take his position as road chairperson, attending executive meetings and even listed as management for the SA Marathon championships in George, apparently withdrawing when the team had to travel by bus instead of the flight that was initially proposed.

It is over a year since then executive member and financial portfolio holder John Hall produced documentation proving fraud and initiating a forensic audit.

For reasons only fully known to the executive, the audit was limited to the 2010 Youth Run, sponsored by the Department of Sport and Recreation to the tune of over R600 000, and a couple of months of rural development projects, but was found to have around R100 000 (over 15%) of the funds lost in fraudulent activity.

The executive allowed the two employees involved, due to be called to account, to resign days before their hearing.

For over three years the accountants have given notice to the president and executive of the need to change practices and processes, including the signing of cash cheques that has seen Skhosana sign off over R220 000 in one month as “petty cash”.

Skhosana also heads up the KZN Academy of Excellence, which forms one of the primary conduits for provincial federations to access funds and resources, leading many to question the potential conflict of interests and unexplained influence being wielded.

It is known that PriceWaterhouseCoopers is undertaking a forensic audit of the department’s funding into athletics, particularly the 2010 Youth Run.

The funding of the 2012 National Youth Run is now being channelled through co-organisers CMA instead of KZNA.

Both Skhosana and Moila sit on the Athletics South Africa board and Moila has stated that she has checked with lawyers and judges that she does not need to be at KZN Athletics in order to be at ASA, Africa Athletics or the IAAF. In an interview in August she stated that, contrary to the constitution clauses, she did not consider herself responsible for any of the fraud, corruption or financial mismanagement as “it was not her portfolio”.

Skhosana had previously informed leading ASA officials, other executive members and candidates that he did not intend to stand, substantiating his unsigned nomination, and a change on this would yet again throw his integrity into question.

Last June in an e-tv interview he stated that he had not been aware of the misallocation of lottery funds, but Hall produced a message written to Skhosana and the executive informing them of the use of lottery funds as an overdraft facility for almost a year before. It was a similar public misrepresentation that initiated the suspension and removal of ASA president Leonard Chuene in 2009.

Over the last year additional fraudulent activity was uncovered by Kevin Bradfield, who was appointed by the KZNA council to chair the intervention committee.

Tomorrow’s QGM is unlikely to be a moderate affair as clubs and various authorities have already been circulated evidence of potential vote manipulation, and selective accommodation and transport support for club representatives. The funding of these activities is also being queried.

All and any clubs outside the Durban area who require assistance with transport and accommodation should contact Skhosana at 083 789 8877. Although over 105 clubs have previously called for the resignation of the executive, it would seem that the opportunity to leave without blemish has passed as a number of officials have shared with the media and authorities portfolios of previously undisclosed documents that are expected to be tabled at the meeting.

A few clubs, particularly those from rural areas and schools, remain supportive of Skhosana.

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