Ockert de Villiers has been following the on going Sascoc enquiry. Photo: Masi Losi

Factionalism within South Africa’s Olympic body was on display over the first two days of the ministerial inquiry into governance issues at Sascoc.

Each side has sent in their batsmen to get them onto the scoreboard while they have faced the odd bouncer.

The big guns will battle it out to convince the committee, lead by retired Judge Ralph Zulman and supported by veteran cricket administrator Dr Ali Bacher and labour law expert Shamima Gaibie, that the other side has been responsible for a state of paralysis at Sascoc.

The battle lines are drawn between factions led by former Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy and long-incumbent president Gideon Sam.

But the final submission on Thursday suggested it is the small federations that could bring down the Goliaths.

Two of the submissions showed the preoccupation with struggles within the corridors of power at the Olympic governing body while the smaller federations spoke of their battles for bread and butter issues in a sporting context.

Issues of maladministration, awarding of national colours, official recognition by Sascoc, battles for funds, and team selections that hamstring national federations were raised.

When federations raise concerns with Sascoc they seem to be met with indifference either intentionally or to serve some sort of dubious purpose.

Lawyer David Becker alleged Sascoc president Gideon Sam ignored damning findings into the SA Sports and Fitness Federation (SASAFF) to allegedly shield a friend.

An inquiry initiated by Sascoc and led by advocate Alex Pullinger in 2013 had found SASAFF to be guilty of intimidation of minors, discriminatory conduct, and manipulation of scoring, among other issues.

Sasaff president Keith Barends, who according to Becker’s clients is a close friend to Sam, was found to be ‘prima facie corrupt’.”

Some of the submissions have also clearly been based on hearsay and some need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Allegations will, of course, be tested throughout the process and the likes of Sam and Reddy will have a chance to state their case to the committee.

The sacked Sascoc trio of Reddy, chief financial officer Vinesh Maharaj and senior manager Jean Kelly, who were found guilty of various misconduct and maladministration charges during a disciplinary hearing in December last year, are expected to give evidence during the next sittings.

One hopes that the committee would bring about some sort of catharsis at Sascoc that would see all national federations pull in the same direction.

While much of the spotlight shines on Sascoc, one should not forget that the Olympic body is made up of all the national federations.

National federations cannot merely wash their hands of what happened at Sascoc as they clearly did not do enough to hold the office bearers and management accountable.

The outcome of the committee could usher in a new dawn at Sascoc in a similar way the Nicholson Ministerial Inquiry into the affairs of cricket in South Africa lead to the improved corporate governance of that sport.

Becker, who is an international sports lawyer and former General Counsel for the International Cricket Council, was optimistic about what the inquiry would mean for sport in general in the country.

“I think at the end of this process they will take action that may affect corporate governance in other sports like the Nicholson Inquiry where a series of the standard of governance that was promoted and implemented in Cricket SA,” Becker said.

Saturday Star

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