Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula’s threat to ban national sports teams which failed to field 60 percent black players has been met with hostility as civic organisations questioned the reviewed quota system.
Concerned sporting bodies chose the cautious approach, saying they would review the report which sparked Mbalula’s comments, or that it did not affect their respective codes.
Mbalula, speaking to 68 national federation leaders at a South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee general meeting at the weekend, warned that strong measures would be taken to transform sport. This was in the wake of a report that revealed “shocking” findings on sports transformation.
It was decided that the quota system would now be 60 percent representation in national sports teams due to a “lack of willingness in implementing transformation”.
Soccer, rugby, netball, athletics and cricket were mostly in the spotlight.
The proposal was blasted on Twitter. Pikkie Greeff (@PikkieGreeff) said: “Let Mbalula show us what his department has done for youth development of team sports in township and rural schools. Built fields? Coach? No”.
“How about make rugby and cricket 60% black, as long as soccer is made 60% white. Fair?” tweeted Pike (@gareth6pike)
“Why not focus on performance and results?” Front Row Grunt (@FrontRowGrunt) asked.
Civil rights organisation AfriForum came out guns blazing, warning national sports bodies that it would report them to international sporting authorities should they bow to the proposal.
“We will not spare any trouble or cost to take up the fight with every international sporting body against blatant discrimination in South African sports,” AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel said.
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said the union looked forward to “engaging” with Mbalula.
“After which the matter will be urgently tabled for our executive council,” he said.
Cricket SA spokesman Altaaf Kazi said the union would be taking the same stance.
“We are not making any comment yet. It’s just media reports for now.”
South African Football Association spokesman Dominic Chimhavi said Mbalula’s comments did not apply to soccer.
“It (racial quotas) mainly talks to the previously unbalanced codes, for those who didn’t get the opportunity to fulfil their potential,” he said.
Solidarity’s spokesman, Johan Kruger said the union, in a letter to Mbalula, indicated that implementation of quotas would be unlawful, as it was contrary to the Employment Equity Act.
“Players, who have contracts with unions or companies, are undoubtedly employees and the Employment Equity Act applies to them,” he said in a statement.
Freedom Front Plus spokesman on sport Anton Alberts said Mbalula’s comment’s were dangerously destructive.
“The arrogance of Mbalula to threaten the world that our teams will not participate against them, takes one’s breath away.
“It will not only destroy sports people’s careers and lives, but it will also destroy sport in South Africa.”