Just where will it all end?

2011-06-18 00:00

LAST Monday Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula committed to cleaning up the sport of athletics, stating: “As government we are saying corporate governance is of paramount importance and that is why we are saying that we need to get people of honour to run athletics.”

It is a statement that will ring true with every club in KwaZulu-Natal as they prepare for next Saturday’s council meeting, where the leadership is expected to be charged with disregarding the constitution, financial inconsistencies and maladministration.

Clubs will be demanding clarity on the over-spend of R940 000 and the alleged misuse of lottery funds.

Additionally, they will want to know why the lottery board claims it has yet to receive an application for re-use of funds initially allocated to stadium development in Pietermaritzburg and Umlazi and the associated equipment. These are generally considered “untouchable” by the lottery board.

However, it is understood that this is only the tip of an iceberg that allegedly impinges on every aspect of provincial athletics and involves conflicts of interest, nepotism, misappropriation of funds and a lack of financial accountability.

Said a club administrator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, “There is conclusive evidence of misappropriation of funds within KZN Athletics.

“A concern over financial accountability has been aired at many previous meetings and accounts have routinely been ‘qualified’ by the auditors.”

Another said, “The worst fears of the clubs have been substantiated by evidence that will be presented to the authorities. The whole executive and office structure will be called to account.”

“If Minister Mbalula is looking for a place to commence his attack on poor corporate governance then let him commence investigations in KZN,” said a third club chairperson.

Clubs are also angry over the lack of clarity regarding the position of Simon Dlamini, the disgraced former ASA board member who was banned from any involvement in any sports for three years by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) following a disciplinary hearing, but is still listed on the ­KZNA letterhead as the vice-president of the province and as a life member of Comrades Marathon Association.

Dlamini has not been formerly replaced in KZNA and appears to still be in communication with KZN structures.

This week there are allegations that Dlamini phoned and threatened the previous KZN treasurer, John Hall, who Dlamini claims is attempting to prevent the KZN president, Aleck Skhosana, from being elected as president of ASA.

In an interview with The Witness, Sascoc general manager Tubby Reddy confirmed that ASA have been instructed in writing to hold elections to replace former president Leonard Chuene, Kakata Maponyane and Dlamini in the shortest possible time, in terms of the ASA constitution.

Although this was sent over three weeks ago, this information does not appear to have been distributed to the provinces, and there is no notice of any such meeting, which raises the question of why the current ASA board are not informing the provinces of the latest developments.

In the call to John Hall, Dlamini also accused current ASA interim chairperson James Evans and another local KZN administrator of working with Hall in undermining any ambitions that Skhosana may have for the national presidency.

When asked for comment on Dlamini’s alleged threats, Hall said, “I did receive a very unsavoury call from Dr Simon Dlamini, and despite attempts to reason with him, he ranted on until I cut off the call. I consider Aleck Skhosana to be a friend as well as comrade in the sport, and while we have our differences at times, we remain friends.”

Given the severity of the allegations being tabled at the council meeting, it may well become an academic point as Skhosana and his whole executive could be removed from office if the allegations are proven.

This would make them ineligible to stand for any office until the matter is resolved through the formal procedures and investigations.

It could also endanger Skhosana’s standing as the head of the KZN Academy of Excellence, particularly as it is directly associated with KZN Athletics, whose letterhead bears their logo.

According to a recent interview with Sascoc president Gideon Sam, the clubs can expect the support of that organisation for such an investigation. “We have to do something to restore the dignity of athletics in this country,” said Sam.

“Our position is very clear — the courts have ruled on athletics and supported the decisions of the investigations. We would want ASA to elect replacements for the three [disciplined board members] and we would expect the process to be extended into provincial level as part of good governance. It needs repeating at every level where they were active.”

The list of complaints grows by the day as more clubs from all regions and the widest diversity of backgrounds and cultures within KZN share their experiences and thoughts in preparation for next Saturday’s council meeting.

Indeed, council meetings will be one item that the executive will require to acknowledge.

In a breach of the constitution, this is the first council meeting for years.

“The constitution requires the executive to call two council meetings each year. The clubs had to virtually force them [the executive] to hold this one,” said Kevin Bradfield, chairperson of Savages, who was charged by other clubs to request such a meeting in writing.

“They have been in clear default of the constitution. It appears they have forgotten that it is the council, which is primarily the clubs, that is the highest body, not the executive.”

This is a situation that looks set to be changed by closure at the meeting and if Sascoc want investigations at provincial level, and Minister Mbalula wants to weed out poor corporate governance, then they will find Durban a good venue next Saturday morning.

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