Mbalula's transformation decision won't affect Commonwealth Games

Some SA sports have had their rights to host international meets revoked for failing to transform adequately.

FILE. Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula fields questions about Fifa at Parliament. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says his decision to revoke the privileges of some sporting federations over their failure to meet transformation targets will not affect the country's ability to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Mbalula announced yesterday that SA Rugby, Athletics South Africa, Netball SA and Cricket South Africa have had their rights to host international tournaments revoked for failing to transform adequately.

He said the decision to implement punitive measures should come as no surprise as the federations themselves agreed to the terms of an eminent persons group on transformation.

Questions have been raised about the impact the decision will have on the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Durban.

But Mbalula says he believes federations would have done better by then.

"It will not affect the Commonwealth Games because that's a multi-coded affair and it affects most of the federations and in particular under the auspices of Sascoc."

He says, "Here, we're talking the question of transformation in relation to all federations. By 2022 these federations will actually have achieved a lot."

After missing out to Japan on the right to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, SA Rugby will privately feel particularly aggrieved at the position taken by the minister.

LISTEN: Mbalula bans SA biggest sporting codes from bidding for major sporting events

They believe that with their own Strategic Transformation Plan in place they are making significant strides in achieving their goals by 2019 and this comes as a hammer blow to that, particularly in light of the fact that they believe they have worked hard with Mbalula in that regard.

Cricket will feel hard done by too. They have taken a much firmer stance across the board particularly at domestic level with representation at national level a major factor for selectors.

All the bodies are expected to meet with Mbalula to gauge the practicalities of his announcement, with South Africa making headlines around the world.

Mbalula had also said action taken against sporting federations that have failed to meet transformation targets is part of a five-year agreement reached with bodies.

He's said the action shouldn't come as a surprise as sporting associations knew there would be consequences if they didn't meet the set targets.

"It's like the World Cup where we had a big dream and today we wake up and we think we must punish, no. Federations themselves understand what we are about and what we are doing."

The minister says there is a will to transform but federations need to do more.

"The progress we have noted that they are making is equally important, we must know that, they must do more and with all our support. Should there be resistance, we will double up on the punitive measures.

Meanwhile, renowned Sports Physiologist Dr Ross Tucker said transformation has failed at grassroots levels and said the targets at professional level is contrived.

"To force the teams to look a different way… that for me is an inefficient and I don't look at the rugby side and say there should be more black players today because there aren't any to pick from in many instances for that national coach or for that Super Rugby coach. So the failure is coming up from the bottom, not happening where you see it on the shop window or on television."

SA RUGBY SHOCKED

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux says the federation remains committed to transformation,

But he adds he's surprised by a move announced yesterday by Mbalula to revoke the rights of the union.

Roux says they hope to convince the minister otherwise as they believe that they have reached almost all of the targets.

"The barometre for 2015 shows that we've achieved our target in 11 out of the 13 dimensions as agreed with government. The only two which were not on top target were in terms of male national team demographics and representation of women and people with disability at national administrative level."

At the same time, officials from the four sporting bodies are expected to meet with Mbalula to plot a way forward in light of his shock announcement yesterday.

OPPOSITION PARTIES DIVE IN

Some opposition parties have accused Mbalula of trying to deflect from his department's failure to accelerate transformation in sports by taking harsh action against sporting federations.

The Democratic Alliance's Solly Malatsi says Mbalula's action doesn't fix the actual problem.

"It doesn't make much of a meaningful difference to the status quo because for instance, Athletics is not bidding for any major sporting event, Netball is not bidding for the Netball World Cup."

Congress of the People spokesperson Dennis Bloem says the action will demoralise federations.

"This is to demoralise and destroy our sports further. It won't help us in doing this."

Meanwhile, Athletics South Africa President Aleck Skhosana says transformation must be taken seriously.

"What has been introduced is very good. You can't talk from 1994 about transformation and you grow tired talking about it. What the department and EPG has done is quite a good exercise. I'm not saying it's good for ASA, it's good for sports."