Mandela Marathon ‘hijacked’

2018-07-04 16:35
Court bid to halt popular Midlands race.

Court bid to halt popular Midlands race. (File)

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Two athletics clubs are claiming a stake in the Mandela Day Marathon, accusing KZN Athletics and the uMgungundlovu District Municipality of “hijacking the idea of this commemorative race”.

Mlungisi Shangase, a member of the Hammarsdale Athletics Club, contends in court papers that he, in his individual capacity and as a member of the club, “conceptualised the idea of hosting a Nelson Mandela Legacy Race”. Despite this, his club and the Greater Edendale Athletics Club have been excluded from the race organising committee.

The clubs this week sought an order from the Pietermaritzburg high court to direct KZN Athletics to deal with their dispute relating to the marathon. They also wanted the race stopped.

Judge Trevor Gorven adjourned the matter to a date to be arranged and allowed the MEC of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) to intervene. Department head, Thandolwakhe Tubane, said in an affidavit that Cogta has represented provincial government in organising and funding the event since 2012.

The MEC and the department’s interest is to preserve the reputation and integrity of the event and to protect funds already spent. Tubane added it would be a “grave injustice” if it were “hijacked” now [by these clubs], or stopped. “This would result in huge expenditure being wasted and would inevitably bring the event into disrepute,” said Tubane.

Shangase maintains in court papers that he came up with the race idea in 2011 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s capture in Howick. Since Mandela belonged to the AbaThembu clan, Shangase said he spoke to its chairperson, Vusi Mvelase. At his request, Shangase gave him a proposal, which he presented to Chief Mandla Mandela of the clan.

There were then talks held between KZN Athletics and Mvelase. Shangase was told about this and advised his club of the procedure to register a race or marathon. In March 2012, Shangase lodged an application for the race to be included in the schedule of races for the provincial athletics calendar.

A few months afterwards he found out about a media briefing being held by the municipality and KZN Athletics to launch The Mandela Day Marathon. This prompted his club to inquire with KZN Athletics about its application.

A meeting was held where all parties stated their case. The then municipal manager, Sbu Khuzwayo, said the race concept came from Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters, and that he was mandated to organise it.

It was resolved that Shangase’s club would be part of the race organising committee for 2012 and would organise the race for 2013, and that the Greater Edendale Athletics Club would also be a member.

Shangase said that during a race committee meeting, the municipality agreed to pay a gratuity to the two clubs for their involvement and for providing marshals to assist on the race day. After the 2012 marathon, none was paid.

In June 2013, Shangase says, the municipality paid KZN Athletics more than R1,2 million for marketing the race. The clubs sought to interdict the race that year, but withdrew the application following undertakings by the municipality to resolve the issues.

Shangase said all Khuzwayo did as municipal manager was “to make false promises, throw a little crumbs our way and lie to us”.

Cogta’s Tubane said the clubs have no right to hold an athletics event. The right to use the name Nelson Mandela belongs to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and nobody has the right to use the name without written consent.

He said the municipality was given the right to use the name. Tubane also said that the marathon was conceptualised in October 2011 as part of the 2012 centenary celebration of the ANC.

16 000 runners for 2018 run

The first Mandela Day Marathon took place in 2012 to honour the life and times of former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

The race starts at the Arya Samaj Hall (Manayi Hall) in Imbali, where the international icon made his last public speech on March 25, 1961 at the All-in-Africa conference, and ends at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, where he was arrested outside Howick on August 5, 1962.

The marathon attracted about 1 500 participants in its inaugural year in 2012 and about 5 500 in 2013. It has grown considerably with about 16 000 runners expected to participate in this year’s event on August 26.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  mandela day marathon

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