A dispute around a nomination for the position of president of the board of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is set to be heard before the arbitrator later this month.
The embattled Olympic governing body was to hold general elections to vote in a new leadership last month, but the polls were postponed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and subsequent nationwide lockdown.
The build-up to the March 28 poll was marred by disputes, including the highly publicised spat involving renowned sports administrator Muditambi “Ntambi” Ravele, and acting Sascoc chairperson Barry Hendricks and Tennis SA (TSA) president Gavin Crookes.
Ravele, who represents Wheelchair Tennis SA on the board of TSA, accused Crookes and Hendricks of conspiring to block her bid to run for the Sascoc presidency. She accused Crookes of refusing to sign off on her nomination and alleges that Hendricks expressed the view that she was not ready to contest for the presidency. She then withdrew because her nomination would have been rejected without the signature from a TSA representative.
It was against the backdrop of this conflict that a legal opinion was sought.
Advocate Elizabeth Baloyi-Mere of the Pan African Bar Association of SA has, after a detailed investigation, concluded that Ravele should refer her dispute for arbitration – and that Sascoc must await the outcome before it proceeds with the elections.
In her legal opinion, Baloyi-Mere concluded that Ravele’s nomination was not properly handled by Crookes, and that TSA board members were influenced to not endorse her bid.
Sascoc acting chief executive Ravi Govender confirmed that the Sascoc board had received the legal opinion and was busy working through it.
“I can confirm that arbitration has been recommended and this is proceeding. The dispute around the nomination is set to be heard before the arbitrator on April 23,” he told City Press.
Asked if the set date would be affected by the ongoing lockdown, Govender said: “Although the date was set before the extension of the lockdown, I don’t think it will be affected. However, this will be at the discretion of the arbitrator.”
Ravele maintains that Hendricks, who is also running for the Sascoc top seat, felt threatened by her challenge for the prestigious post. She said her withdrawal did not mean she lost interest in contesting the elections, but she “had no choice”.
“I am happy about the arbitration because I think my concerns will be addressed. I just want Sascoc and all sports federations to be run professionally and not by unethical leadership. Sport is a very big industry and a lot of people rely on sports as their career. We cannot allow some people to run it down,” she told City Press.
“My thinking was he [Hendricks] saw me as his biggest challenge and decided to make sure my name was not on the ballot paper.
“The other reason could be that most people are not ready for female leadership. I think he needs to tell us the real reason he acted like that.”
Ravele first raised her grievances with Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa in February, asking him to urgently investigate “unethical conduct” by Hendricks and Crookes.
The pair has disputed claims of unfair play.
Baloyi-Mere further advised that, since Hendricks was party to the dispute, he could not appoint the arbitrator. Ravele or Sascoc itself may submit the dispute to the Sports Commission in terms of the National Sport and Recreation Act.
She further instructed Sascoc to notify Mthethwa of the dispute in writing.