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Mbalula: Equal opportunities must be granted to all races

The minister says there needs to be tangible transformation in sport so that it stops being a topic of debate.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula speaking at a special transformation debate with Talk Radio 702’s Xolani Gwala.  Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says he doesn't want transformation to still be a topic of discussion five years from now.

Mbalula was speaking at a special transformation debate in Sandton yesterday.

The minister made headlines in April after revoking tournament hosting rights for the country's Cricket South Africa (CSA), South African Rugby (Saru), Netball South Africa (NSA) and Athletics South Africa (ASA) for failing to meet their transformation targets.

Mbalula says there needs to be tangible transformation in sport so that it stops being a topic of debate in the country.

"I expect that in the next five years we would have made so much of a dent in terms of transformation that the subject will not become a topic."

He says equal opportunities must be granted to people of all races and backgrounds.

Meanwhile, the head of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG)Willie Basson says another way of forcing federations to transform would be to revoke national colours.

"You could have said withdraw colours, conditional that in your next one in 2016 there is market improvement."

The hosting rights of four of South Africa's major federations remain suspended because of their failure to meet transformation goals.

LISTEN: Transformation in sport debate with Minister Fikile Mbalula.

WE'VE MADE PROGRESS

Mbalula says transformation will help develop the country as a whole, and not just sporting codes.

The minister has described it as national progress.

"We are helping the nation so that in the next 10-20 years, we will not be here talking transformation, society would have evolved out of this system and realised the need to transform as a nation."

Basson from the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), says some federations will die if they don't transform.

He says 95 percent of South Africa's population under 25 is white, which puts a sport like bowling under threat.

"The average age of a bowler in South Africa is 74, they are 99 percent white and since the publishing of the EPG report all of a sudden the leadership woke up. We have to change and transform our membership profile and get stuck into that part of the population that is going to secure a future."

At the same time, Gauteng cricket CEO Greg Fredericks has questioned whether South Africa's sporting federations know how to fully transform and develop young black talent.

Fredericks is just one of the many sporting bosses at this afternoon for a special debate on transformation.

Mbalula has been expanding on his decision to place certain bans on four of the biggest sporting codes in South Africa.

But Frederick's warns certain associations don't understand what's going wrong.

"There are many federations who work very hard to transform the sport; but I don't think anyone takes the effort to find out what the problems are and why people aren't people transforming at the rate that all of us want. I went through the report and I started to see [and have] a clear understanding why people are battling to transform the sport."

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