Yesterday the Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced his decision to revoke privileges of four major sporting federations – Athletics South Africa (ASA), Cricket South Africa (CSA) Netball South Africa (NSA) and South African Rugby Union (SARU) from hosting or bidding for any major international events in the country to failure to meet their respective transformation targets.
Fikile Mbalula must know, as the people who have been at the forefront in the battle for transformation in sports such as Rugby and Cricket, that we are not moved or even remotely convinced by his rhetoric. We see the aforementioned decision as conjecture which in the first place does not guarantee results from either the transformation perspective and nor from the results perspective. The decision doesn’t take into consideration the potential effects on the actual black and white sportsmen who on merit alone deserve to be selected in either of the teams. In fact the decision can only serve to demoralise those athletes that have worked night and day to be selected on merit.
Election season is silly season for politicians who feel they have to promise the world to win votes of the masses without so such as a desire to even begin implementing those promises. Fikile Mbalula is one such politician who has made plenty of promises in the past and yet we haven’t seen any of those promises come to effect. The case in point is during the 2014 election year when he promised that a 50% black team would go to the rugby world in 2015, only for us to be disappointed not only by a team that didn’t meet the promises but disappointed also by the performances at the world. Where was Mbalula when Meyer ran a mock of transformation and registering the worst performances in Bok history? He was saying support this team whilst we were saying boycott this team as it was an insult to the nation and not only because of a lack of representation but because it became inadvertently clear that Meyer was deliberately omitting black players of merit to advance his own agenda.
Say now we give Sir Fikile Mbalula the benefit of the doubt in his directive and electioneering campaign. Then begs the question what major international events are due in either of the respective sports codes that the federations cannot bid or host between now and the next time he reviews his decision in 2017-2018. Quite simply none… So simply the rhetoric holds no water at all in fact it is as useful as our presidents reprimand letter to the ministers.
When did Mr Mbalula grow a conscious as far as we remember he struck gold even before the 2012 Olympics began. Mbalula arrived in London days before the athletes even knew who qualified to represent South Africa at the 2012 edition of the games. Stating that he had to prepare and make sure everything was in order for the athletes before arriving. With many very skeptical of his reasoning and actual affairs of going very much in advance to London, the Minister himself also agreed that it was also to build relations with other nations sporting ministers and directors. Fikile Mbalula had the opportunity to enjoy the glamorous London life ahead of the games visiting high end shops, venues and functions with what many believe to be tax payers’ money. All of this funded by the Sports and Recreation portfolio while Mr Mbalula’s Olympic journeys weren’t cheap. South Africa seem to have a very high end sport administrator, one which attends almost every sporting function with ease and in style, using money many South Africans desperately need. With decent sporting infrastructure a rarity in local communities, maintenance becoming a thing of the past, sports fields, halls and parks have become ornaments of lost space. Although South Africa finds itself sitting in a major economic crisis, it still manages to find funds to send Mr Mbalula across the world to many events some could consider absolutely ridiculous and ludicrous. Although Mbalula said “This Olympics have definitely been our most successful Olympics ever with the six medals we have won. Though in quantitative terms we did not achieve the 12 medals target set by SASCOC.” And many leave the games with pride but most economists are left querying the huge sums of money spent by The Minister of Sport and Recreation on his journey to 2012 London Olympics. Yet somehow we must believe the Minister of Glam has somehow grown a conscious when his actions all along have been to the contrary.
The state of boxing in this country is a mess, after attending the infamous Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight in the U.S, there was yet another stir up involving Fikile Mbalula, regarding the fees used to cover he’s trip and expenditure. Rumours spread immediately after the fight, claiming that Mbalula had used tax payers money to cover his trip. With this, he later took to Twitter and responded furiously at all the critics without giving an answer as to who paid for his trip to Las Vegas. When appearing in Parliament, Mbalula affirmed that he had used his own money to fund his trip to Las Vegas with his statement being backed up by a clean audit that the auditor general issued to the department of sports. Mbalula then boasted about this clean record and said: “We got [the clean audit] through hard work and by managing our money without irregular expenditure, fruitless expenses and corruption. So don’t judge me when I go see Mayweather with my own money.” Yet boxing has gone backwards on recent years. Where is the minister to intervene in that space?
All in all we are not moved by the rhetoric and less impressed by the minister hijacking what our course for transformation stands for and using it for political gain with reckless conjecture. We demand and want to see players of colour selected on merit. That is the only way you can redeem yourself Minister.
Grit Sports Editor