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Tutu not a traitor - Komphela

2005-02-25 10:08

Cape Town - ANC MP and chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on sport and recreation, Butana Komphela has asserted that he did not accuse Archbishop emiritus Desmond Tutu of being a traitor in comments made to the press earlier in the week.

Speaking to the press in reaction to comments made by Tutu that sports transformation should be placed on the back burner, Komphela remarked that Tutu's views amounted to "high treason".

Other political parties criticised Komphela for his "attack" on Tutu.

Tutu told a newspaper that a real attempt to improve the facilities in disadvantaged communities in South Africa would improve the country's sporting future.

Tutu said the current approach to transformation was "tokenism" and an insult to all those involved.

"People talk about two or three black players per team, but what is the difference between two, three, five or six? If they are good enough, they must obviously be included. I do not like it if they have to carry this additional baggage. It is a huge burden," Tutu told The Star.

Komphela said in his reaction that scrapping transformation would amount to high treason. "The Constitution requires that we move from the old to the new. If anyone says transformation should be scrapped, it is the same as high treason."

Komphela said government's point of view is that no player should simply be selected as a token. Young sports people from disadvantaged communities must be developed so that they can take part in sport.

Donald Lee, Democratic Alliance MP, said Komphela would not find the word "transformation" in the Constitution if he reads it. If he looked up "treason" in a dictionary, he would see that it means to "break trust with your country or its ruler, particularly through warfare against your country or deliberate assistance to its enemies".

Serious allegation

"This is a serious allegation that is punishable by death or life imprisonment in certain countries."

Lee said the ANC should rather follow Tutu's advice and develop facilities in poor communities than to enforce quotas for South African teams.

The African Christian Democratic Party agreed with Tutu that quotas were not ideal and that tokenism was an insult. Better facilities were a better solution.

Selby Khumalo, ACDP MP, said Komphela's "harsh accusation" was uncalled for.

"Since the unification of sport in 1992, there have been successes and failures. Sport in South Africa is still not non-racial. Instead of criticising other opinions, debate should be encouraged to facilitate non-racial sport.

"Non-racialism should not just be enforced for rugby and cricket. These are the sports people talk about, but all sports should be non-racial."