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Johannesburg – Embattled Athletics South Africa (ASA) president James Evans has called for an independent investigation into various allegations against him, one week before the federation's board is set to hold a special general meeting (SGM) in an attempt to have him impeached.
Evans is facing accusations from more than half the board that he made payments to himself from ASA's coffers, entered into various agreements and settlements with ASA staff without the board's knowledge, and instructed the chief financial officer to make payments without the board's authority.
“In order to show that I am not trying to avoid allegations made against me, no matter how flimsy or contrived, and in order to not waste the organisation's money, which is best spent on the athletes and on matters for which there is a budget, I am happy to agree that a truly independent tribunal investigates the allegations made,” Evans, a practicing advocate, wrote in a letter to the ASA executive members on Saturday.
He insisted, however, that if he was to face an inquiry, the tribunal should also investigate the board members involved for “their violation of the constitution”, claiming they had not followed correct procedures in their attempt to have him ousted.
He alleged some executive members had abused their positions, and that false statements had been made with the intent to mislead ASA members and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).
In identical letters addressed to ASA vice-president Hendrick Ramaala last month, six of the 11 board members – Esther Malema, Gwadiso Ntathu, James Moloi, Mlungisi Mnyengeza, Pieter Lourens and Shireen Noble – called for the SGM.
Ramaala, an elite marathon runner who holds a law degree, confirmed the only matter on the agenda was the request for the removal of the ASA president.
Evans claimed the meeting, scheduled for March 9, was “a frivolous waste of money” and was “fatally flawed”, criticising the board members for attempting to hold the SGM on a day that clashed with various provincial junior championship events.
He also said the negative publicity around Ramaala's letter had adversely affected sponsorship negotiations.
“The fact that they knew they needed to act in terms of clause 12 (of the ASA constitution) is evident from their letters, but they simply ignore the fact that they cannot merely by weight of numbers requisition a special general meeting.”
He said they had failed to abide by clause 17.2 of the constitution, as Ramaala had sent the letter to members without informing Evans in advance of the allegations being made.
Evans also alleged that “serious irregularities” had been discovered in the administration of the federation, calling for action to be taken and suggesting the SA Police Service could be approached.
The athletics body has been hit by financial trouble in recent years, having lost all major corporate sponsors.
The latest issues affecting the federation have surfaced two years after three senior ASA officials, including former president Leonard Chuene, were banned by Sascoc from involvement in any sport, for terms ranging between three and seven years, for maladministration.
In October, ASA fired CEO Frik Vermaak for mismanagament of funds, among other allegations. Vermaak appealed the findings of his disciplinary hearing and the case was settled out of court.
Two months later, ASA appointed a committee to address its financial crisis in an effort to service its R4.3 million debt.
Sascoc president Gideon Sam said last month the governing body would step in to assist athletes while ASA attempted to mend its financial problems. – Sapa