JOHANNESBURG – South African sport could have its own independent dispute resolution body in the foreseeable future.
The national ministry has proposed an amendment to the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill that will aim to establish an ad-hoc Sports Arbitration Tribunal.
An arbitration tribunal’s role will be similar to that of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for South African sports federations.
Sports minister Tokozile Xasa said the idea of the tribunal would be to resolve internal disputes within federations as quickly as possible without paralysing the day to day running of the sport.
“In terms of the amendments of the sports and recreation act we are seeking to find a way where disputes are not at the order of the day at federations and focus on their primary tasks,” Xasa said.
“We are taking it to a higher level because we have to intervene in several of the organisations. The funding is often used for legal costs when they take each other to court.”
Xasa said the tribunal will deal with matters on an ad-hoc basis and would hopefully restrain federations from wasting funding on legal costs.
“We are saying, let us have this mechanism, it is not going a permanent feature because we do not anticipate there would be disputes on a daily basis,” Xasa said. “As and when there are disputes the courts should not be the first port of call, but use and exhaust this mechanism.
“If they have dealt with the matter through internal processes then they can elevate it to departmental and ministerial level.”
The current legislation allows the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) to intervene in disputes but the recent ministerial inquiry into the umbrella body’s affairs found it was unable to fulfil this role.
In inquiry committee’s report, it stated that Sascoc’s internal dispute resolution processes were not only inappropriate “but not applicable for the purposes of mediating or determining disputes between federations and between federations and other sporting entities”.
Xasa said she hoped the bill would be addressed before the general elections.@ockertde