Johannesburg - Trade union Solidarity on Wednesday welcomed reports that the sports department's plan for top sporting codes to implement 60-40 quotas favouring black players would be postponed until next year.
Sport minister Fikile Mbalula has called a meeting with Solidarity to discuss its objections, the union said in a statement.
This follows a meeting between Mbalula and representatives of athletics, cricket, football, netball and rugby in Johannesburg on Monday.
“It is encouraging that Mbalula is prepared to meet with Solidarity and other concerned parties about the issue so soon,” said Solidarity spokesman Johan Kruger.
Kruger said through the submission of around 52 000 petitions accompanied by a memorandum, Solidarity would put it to the minister that quotas, be it in the work place or on sports fields, were unacceptable and would be challenged.
“It is clear that public resistance to his announcement paid dividends, forcing the minister to reconsider the implementation of the new quotas and to first obtain input from interested parties,” Kruger said.
“This is a refreshing change in government's 'untransparent' attitude towards affirmative action and its continued reluctance to enter into a meaningful debate on it.”
On April 5, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and Mbalula announced far-reaching measures to address the lack of transformation and development as indicated by a pilot study on the status of transformation in sport.
The quota system, as instructed in the national Sports Plan of 2011, would be aggressively implemented before the May elections, he said at the time.
Kruger said Mbalula's announcement of the implementation of the quota system and the urgency accompanying the matter were typical of the African National Congress' “attempts to divert attention from other major issues such as Nkandla”.
“In its meeting with the minister, Solidarity will point out to the minister that this is in essence a labour issue and that the proposed quota system is in direct contravention of the Employment Equity Act,” the statement read.
Kruger said a comprehensive memorandum with, among others, a legal argument would be handed to the minister for his consideration at next week's meeting.
“We have already made it clear that the trade union would not hesitate to challenge the matter in the Labour Court or in the Equality Court,” he said.
“We are appealing to sportsmen and women to approach the trade union if they are being or will in future be disadvantaged by quotas.”
Botha said the issue of affirmative action had to be dealt with through a healthy debate and a redesign of the model in its entirety was required.