Rugby transformation turns into heated debate in parly

2015-11-04 09:20
Fikile Mbalula (Gallo)

Fikile Mbalula (Gallo)

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The ANC came under fire from opposition MPs during a heated debate on transformation yesterday.

Parliament was seized with the rather tedious process of adopting the Budget Review and Recommendation Reports (BRRR) of various Parliament portfolio committees – a process during which political parties support or reject budgets allocated to government departments before they are adopted by the House.

But the sport and justice reports led to fireworks, with the ANC being accused of being lax on the issue of transformation.

The EFF’s Pebane Moteka rejected the report on sport, saying sport was neither accessible nor equitable to many in South Africa and that access to quality sports was determined by race or wealth.

“In 21 years of democracy, we still have a national rugby team which goes to the World Cup with only 5% of black players in their squad,” he said of the Springboks.

He said the department has only set aside 0.8% of its budget for sports infrastructure development. South Africa could not compete with other countries if it failed to build quality sports infrastructure in townships, rural villages and in poor communities.

“The problem of this department is Minister [Fikile] Mbalula himself, who only knows how to hijack parties, forgetting that he is a minister now and not a child,” concluded Moteka.

The United Democratic Movement’s Mncedisi Filtane said the time for talking about transformation in sport and rugby in particular had ended and forceful action was needed.

“The fact that the rugby team went out there and we have a single player like Siya Kolisi who never touched the ball and never played any match is quite painful to the over 40 million Africans of this country. There is absolutely no transformation taking place in that rugby.

“We have got a coach who is stiff-necked, who is not interested in transforming rugby. And we have a president of SA Rugby who keeps on telling us that they are running a business so when we talk as the citizens of this country, he says we are irrelevant,” said the visibly angry MP.

Filtane said SA rugby was run like a private business and if Parliament and the ANC did not intervene, rugby would be gone.

“We must stop saying that this is our rugby because they do not think on those terms. They regard it as a personal property; they are making us totally irrelevant and we have to face that as a fact,” said Filtane.

Congress of the People’s Deidre Carter said “the national turmoil surrounding the team” had an impact on the team as evidenced in the historic loss to Japan.

On the other hand, DA MP Solly Malatsi said while his party supported the report, they were concerned over Boxing South Africa which he said “fails the most basic test of good governance”.

Bouts were being sanctioned without proper procedures being followed and promoters were not paying purse monies on time, he said. Despite having a new board, the federation still operated without a full time CEO.

Malatsi also criticised disproportionate allocation of grants to federations and what he described as a “cold war” between the departments of sports and basic education which he said was hampering sports at schools.

“As a result, more than half of the schools in the country do not play any form of sport simply because there isn’t sufficient policy coordination and implementation between the two departments. We hope that going forward, that would receive attention,” said Malatsi.

But ANC MP Strike Ralekgoma defended the department, saying it had received a clean audit for two years and that 10 000 school children participated in the national school championships, which is an indicator that the department was working closely with basic education.

“The international participation of the national teams is an achievement in itself,” said Ralekgoma.

Read more on:    anc  |  transformation  |  springboks  |  eff  |  rugby

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