KZN athletics upset by ASA decision on elections

2010-09-08 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL Athletics (KZNA) have been forced to take heed of e-mails they received yesterday morning from clubs frustrated and upset by Athletics South Africa’s (ASA) notice of intention to hold board elections on Saturday, September 18.

Infuriated clubs and members, who consider the process to be unconstitutional, lacking in transparency and a compromise of democratic procedures, called on the KZNA executive to hold feedback meetings with the local members.

The rushed ASA elections arose from Saturday’s South African Sports Congress and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) general meeting in Bloemfontein at which the body decided that ASA should elect seven new board members to replace those who resigned during the year-long issue surrounding the Caster Semenya affair.

The interim board members appear to be proposing that they hold their positions in place of the three remaining board members who are undergoing disciplinary measures.

It is yet to be seen how clubs will feel about this prospect given the much-criticised performance of the interim board over the past nine months.

These members were appointed as the best of the best from the provincial delegates who will once again be instrumental in the election of the seven new board members.

A leading KZN club representative, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It seems ludicrous that we are rushing into these elections with effectively the same candidates who have been running the sport at provincial and national level for the past decade.

“Athletics is in a mess, nationally and provincially [in KZN]. What are KZN executive members doing at ASA level when there is so much to be done at home?

“The current interim members [from KZN] should be recalled and no other local nominations made. They must sort out this province first.”

The KZN delegates at the ASA special council meeting on August 28 represented one of the three provinces to block the idea of elections, prior to being over-ruled by Sascoc.

On Monday the ASA office informed the 17 provinces that a special annual general meeting will be held on September 18 to elect the seven members and that all nominations are to be submitted by Friday , a mere five days after the notification was given.

The process appears to be in breach of the ASA constitution, which makes no allowance for a special annual general meeting and requires a minimum of 21 days notice of the holding of a special general meeting. Proceeding with the elections could open the results to legal challenge, a move that the sport cannot afford.

Clubs argue that the September 18 date compromises democracy as provinces have limited opportunity to obtain a mandate from a provincial council meeting as to who, or indeed if anyone, from the province should be nominated for national election.

In the absence of council meetings, nominations would most likely be invited from within the provincial executives.

Late yesterday the KZN executive responded to the clubs’ demands by sending out an e-mail summarising developments at national level and offering to meet all clubs interested in debating the matter tomorrow evening in one of two regional venues.

Midlands and northern KZN members have been invited to Comrades Marathon House in Pietermaritzburg for a 5.30 pm meeting, while Durban and Coastal clubs will meet at King’s Park Stadium at 5 pm.

“The intention is that between the two meetings and the e-mail feedback, the executive will be able to travel with a provincial mandate, not only determining if the province must participate in the elections, but also as to whether KZN should have any representation on the board or not,” said executive member John Hall, who will be co-ordinating the Pietermaritzburg meeting.

“While the executive have an obligation to provide feedback to the clubs, it is the clubs that must decide who should or should not represent them at national. These are extraordinary times requiring extraordinary measures, but at least this [meeting process] is a good first step forward.”

It is said that the elections must be held to meet the IAAF deadline of November, by which time a new formalised ASA board must be elected, but clubs feel this does not justify the 12-day notification.

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