At the release of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report on transformation in South African Sport on Tuesday, the new Minister of Sports and Recreation, Thulas Nxesi, lifted the ban on the federations controlling cricket, rugby, netball and athletics from bidding for international events to be hosted in this country.
All those sports had achieved the target they set as part of a Memorandum of Understanding with the EPG, said Nxesi.
Except, they hadn’t - not according to the report made public on Tuesday, which covered the 2015/16 period ending in April.
Netball, Cricket and Rugby all fall below the 50 percent “Generic Black” target, according to the data collected for the report.
However, it is understood that those sports do fulfil the criteria for the 2016/17 period, which will only be released next year. Nevertheless, the data used for the report that will only be released next year has been utilised now, to enable those sport to bid for the right to host major international sports events.
This most significantly impacts on rugby which had to submit an intent to bid for the 2023 World Cup in September last year - a move supported by former Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, despite his now exaggerated call for a ban in April last year.
Mbalula’s successor was at pains to point out on Tuesday, that despite rugby, cricket and netball having a long way to go in terms of transformation, the fact that those sports had achieved - and in some cases exceeded - what Mbalula and the EPG had demanded last year, were free to bid for major events to be hosted in South Africa.
“They have achieved their 50 percent, which is what the department wanted from them and based on that criteria we can’t shift the goalposts,” said Nxesi.
“The actions by my predecessor acted as an incentive for those federations.”
Next year’s EPG report should offer a better indication of how well the federations have operated in achieving targets.
In the case of South African cricket, the targets set by Cricket SA for the 2016/17 season have been achieved. However, those don’t fall under the period of the current EPG report and instead, the national men’s team in 2015/16 only had 45 percent of its team made up of “generic blacks” (coloured, black African and Indian players).
Rugby was at 34 percent and Netball 37 percent.
Nevertheless, working off the controversy stirred up last year by Mbalula, Nxesi explained that those sports still had plenty of work to do. “There is still lots of work to do, the lack of facilities at black schools leaves a lot to be desired,” said Nxesi.
He added that the report “describes schools sport as the Achilles heel of the whole sports system.
“The reliance of many federations on ex-Model C and private schools is not sustainable,” he explained.
Nxesi will seek an urgent meeting with Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, in an attempt to make school sport central to the development initiatives he wishes his department to create and sustain.
Nxesi highlighted the shortcomings of Athletics South Africa (ASA) and the SA Football Association (Safa) in bringing their respective schools sports associations properly under their auspices. Describing both organisations as providing the ministry with a “dilemma”, he called on them to show better leadership.
Nxesi said ASA didn’t provide data in a number of categories, exactly the same problem they had a year ago when they were included among the sports that were censured.
“This points to a lack of poor systems and governance in the code. My department will work with to address these challenge. We are not there to be punitive but to be corrective.
“Of particular concern is the paucity of data in relation to club and schools athletics, the very bedrock of the system and essential to ensuring the sustainability of the code in the long run.”
Nxesi directed Safa to take over control of the SA Schools Football Association with a view to expanding football in all schools.