JOHANNESBURG - Sascoc president Gideon Sam struck an adversarial tone during his submission to the ministerial committee into the Olympic body’s affairs in Joburg.
Sam was met by an unyielding panel lead by retired judge, Ralph Zulman, and supported by veteran cricket administrator Dr Ali Bacher and labour law expert Shamima Gaibie.
He faced tough questions about exorbitant allowances board members received for trips to multi-sport events at Sascoc’s expense, making decisions without consulting the board and failing to address issues within member federations.
He received a grilling from Gaibie about the amounts the board members and office bearers received when they were travelling.
“The records reflect, this is the information Mr Reddy provided, that on average the per diems for travel by board members is in excess of R2.2 million per year,” Gaibie stated.
“In retrospect, given these are public monies, are you not of the view that the per diems given to board members and the $500 given to you per day and the $300 to your deputy and vice versa ... I think, the $200 to the board ... is in excess?”
Sam shrugged and said the council were provided with the records of how much board members were receiving whenever on Sascoc duty and the costs had been approved.
“I am asking you for your personal view whether it is exorbitant or not?” Gaibie fired back.
“If I look at what the rand and the dollar were back then, it was small money,” Sam said.
Justifying the expenses, Sam said the members were staying in a “scruffy hotel” during the Rio Olympic Games, while they also had to pay for their own travel while there.
“It is all well and good for people to be in positions and we say do this and do this on behalf of the sports movement and then when we have to look after them, we say go and stay in a scruffy hotel and so on,” Sam said.
“And you think $500 a day is very little?” Gaibie asked again.
“I would say reasonable, to too little I say what is the going rate in the country rand-dollar the person in the finance committee must work out which country they are going to, what is the exchange rate and give the board members a fair fee,” Sam said.
Earlier, Gaibie and Sam disagreed about how the Sascoc president appeared to make decisions without consulting the board beforehand.
Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi requested the board to compile a report on its status, yet Sam sent a letter which he and IOC member Sam Ramsamy drafted without consulting the members.
“A member of the board went to the portfolio committee to go and explain how we are dealing with the issue of the Commonwealth Games, the inquiry, and the disciplinary,” Sam explained.
“No board member has that report yet, they will receive the report on the 26th when we sit on the board. That is how we operate.”
Gaibie responded: “And that is problematic for me because I think it is not an organisation run by one person, you do that in consultation with board members when elected by the council.”
Sam said he had been given a mandate by the council that elected him to “do what is right” and he took his instructions from them.
In her final question and remark, Gaibie said it was apparent that two camps operated within the umbrella body which had left it dysfunctional.
“An organisation is not dysfunctional if on March 26 it has a farewell function and sends about 300 athletes and managers to the Commonwealth Games,” Sam said.
“An organisation is not dysfunctional when it can continue to pay its services and so on, an organisation is not dysfunctional if somewhere it has reserves to the tune of R18 million. An organisation is not dysfunctional when they run the programmes of coaches and associations on a daily basis.”