South Africans should be embarrassed by what has been heard at SJN, says Nathi Mthethwa
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JOHANNESBURG – Sports, Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa praised Cricket SA for the Social Justice and Nation building initiative, saying he would like to see it replicated by other sporting codes.
The SJN, under the guidance of transformation ombudsman, Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza has heard heartbreaking and controversial testimony from a number of former players and officials, outlining discrimination in cricket and how isolated many black players felt when they represented the Proteas.
“I wish to commend Cricket SA on their foresight to provide a platform for a frank and groundbreaking examination of the sport,” said Mthethwa. “This initiative will no doubt embolden the leadership of other national federations to consider similar attempts at self correction.”
Mthethwa’s submission, touched on a variety of issues, including his own role in intervening in CSA’s administrative chaos last year, which ultimately led to the new administrative structure and the new Board of Directors, dominated by independent members.
Mthethwa on Friday explained that he had been monitoring the hearings and it was impossible for anyone not to have felt emotional about many of the testimonies. “Any decent South African should be embarrassed by what has transpired and what people have raised here,” said Mthethwa.
He also highlighted how, that while it was a very difficult and painful process for cricket, that it wasn’t the only sport or infact entity in South Africa where racial and gender discrimination took place. “It must be noted that while Cricket SA has been the first to opt for the kind of ventilation that has been revealed over the last few weeks, it is by no means only a reflection of what pertains to cricket. It is something that also resonates with other national federations.”
“People have been raising issues of capable individuals just wanting a chance,” Mthethwa continued.
“The hearings have shown us that what is happening in cricket is not only a reflection of the happenings in other federations, but they in turn are a reflection of society itself. Sport is a microcosm of what we see broadly in society. As we tackle this matter, it is not confined to sport, sport is but a part of the whole, if you are talking about a socially coherent society.”
Asked by Ntsebeza for his view on the elimination of quotas, with many, including at the SJN this week, AfriForum, arguing that there should be natural progression and selection, Mthethwa said those arguments were flawed.
“The same people saying that, have not produced any ounce of evidence that the people who came based on quota, are there simply on that basis - that they have no merit, no capacity. In fact they were suppressed.”
Mthethwa added that the government couldn’t simply play the role of observer and drew on how the country reached its first democratice elections to illustrate his point. “That argument would suggest that the country reached April 1994 on auto pilot. There was a struggle to reach 1994, and the struggle continues in order for us to normalise.”
“The abnormality in sport today cannot be left alone. Because what they are saying is ‘leave us alone,’ but then you go to the international platform and you get teams and individuals, who have no resemblance of the demographics of the country and you just go, ‘get out, leave it like that.’
So what is the use of having a government?“
The SJN was established after a call by Lungi Ngidi the Proteas to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement last year, exposed an undercurrent of racism within South African cricket.
Ntsebeza said he’d been supplied with a variety of questions to ask the minister, but instead of doing so during Mthethwa’s submission on Friday, the SJN would send them to Mthethwa’s office.
Another hearing would be scheduled where the questions would be responded to, said Ntsebeza.
“We want you to have a fair chance, to reflect on the questions and to respond to them.”
The public hearings were adjourned until August 23. Ntsebeza on Thursday called on those against whom allegations were made, to make submissions before August 18.
Cricket SA will make its submission to the SJN next month.
Ntsebeza will compile a report with recommendations which will be handed to the new CSA Board at the end of September.