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Xasa confirms facilitator to oversee Sascoc changes

The changes are off the back of the ministerial Inquiry report led by retired Judge Ralph Zulman into the governance and administration issues at the Olympic body.

FILE: Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Sports and Recreation Department leadership and South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) leadership met in Parliament on Wednesday for high-level and crunch talks on the specific changes required by Minister Tokozile Xasa.

The changes or recommendations are off the back of the ministerial inquiry report led by retired Judge Ralph Zulman into the governance and administration issues at the Olympic body.

The report was scathing with the Sascoc board’s inadequate financial mismanagement laid bare while President Gideon Sam was said to being running the organisation as a dictator.

These issues are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of concerning findings in the report.

Xasa has also appointed and introduced (to Sascoc) a facilitator that will be her “eyes and ears” during the Sascoc transition.

Other than this, there are scant details about the nuts and bolts of what was discussed, especially concerning the much-publicised disagreements between the two parties.

Sports Department's director-general Alec Moemi shared his thoughts to EWN Sport at the meeting: “Yes, quite positive, we had looked at the areas of agreement and the areas where there were disagreements and those were clarified. The meeting happened in an atmosphere of cooperation and of looking forward to the future. The minister has communicated her decision to appoint a facilitator who will work closely with Sascoc to ensure implementation of all the areas in the report.”

While current Sascoc president refused to talk to the media after the meeting, vice-president Barry Hendricks stepped in and shared the same sentiments as Moemi when talking to EWN Sport: “We have reached a consensus and all those points and misunderstandings that exists have been sorted out and clarified.”

He added the Olympic body was content with the appointment of a facilitator: “We are quite happy with the facilitator and the [future] facilitation process.”

Back to the issues of which Sam had pushed back aggressively on, which left the minister unimpressed with the body’s stubbornness to change.

The headstrong Sam was not sold on certain recommendations of the Zulman Inquiry report, these are:

  • The Sascoc president must be elected/greenlighted by an independent committee instead of the Sascoc council,

  • Board members should be required to waive membership of the national sports federations they belong to,

  • Terms for board members reduced from three four-year terms to two.

DIRECTOR

Sam made a public threat at the special general meeting in early February. He said South Africa was at risk of being kicked out of the Tokyo Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) if the recommendations were implemented.

“If you’re going to be on a confrontational road, it means Sascoc will be expelled from the IOC and IPC.”

The newly-appointed facilitator cannot be named just yet, but he will have a direct line to the minister and will oversee that the recommendations are implemented.

The minister will place a lot of trust in the new facilitator and believes that with the fresh appointment, the changes will be in place by the 30 April deadline, which Moemi says has not been shifted.

“The minister will place reliance on the reports that she’s supposed to receive from the appointed facilitator. And if there is a need, then perhaps the minister may be amenable to the extension of that deadline. But for now, the deadline remains the same.”

Moemi once again reiterated the parties had found common ground without providing much detail: “We are quite happy that we have found each other in terms of thinking and clarification on the matters and we are also still awaiting the minister’s guidance on one or two things, but the clarification has been provided and we think we are on the same page.”

Hendricks attempted to clarify things, but it is quite clear there are still more talks to come in the future.

He touched on the discussion around the future Sascoc president being elected by an independent committee.

“Both parties are happy in terms of the steps that must be taken to ensure that the Sascoc president is elected properly, and elected is the operative word, by the membership and the process of vetting that will also kick in from now onwards as well.”

He added that the final structure and the process of the independent committee will still need to be ironed out: “We are open through our discussions with the department’s leading on from this to sit down with them to find out what sort of independent structure they and ourselves would deem fit to carry out this task of vetting.”

On the point of board members relinquishing their membership to other national sporting federations, Hendricks says this is not policy.

“It is not a case of you lose your membership of a federation once you become a board member, currently the president and the CEO cannot serve on any national executive structure, that policy will still be applied. It doesn’t apply to other board members yet, but the issue of membership has been clarified, you don’t have to relinquish your membership.”

And lastly, on the proposed board member term limits, which Minster Xasa wants to shorten to two terms instead of three, Hendricks says Sascoc will have further discussions.

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