1 minute read
12 Apr 2014
8:44 am

Mbalula should talk to sportsmen


The threat by the Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula, to unleash a range of sanctions against South Africa's major sporting codes has to be seen in a far more serious light than mere sabre rattling in the run-up to an already fraught election.

Mbalula’s objective of a 60% black representational quota in national cricket, rugby and soccer teams is a heavy-handed imposition of the will of the politicians, which might well resonate with the voting masses, but is really the empty rattle of a man whose most memorable contribution was to tell the Springboks on their departure for the last World Cup to “moer hulle”.

No rational South African can argue against  transition in the sporting sphere. The scars left behind by the Broederbond’s insistence on a system of “multinationalism” when black and white South Africans were grudgingly allowed to compete in a shallow system of ethnic tagging during the SA Games in the early seventies, have still not healed completely.

There are other considerations the honourable minister has to face, not least of which are the international sporting sanctions this country could face if, through his department, the ruling party directly intervenes in the affairs of the codes he has targeted.

The wide-ranging Olympic Charter clearly states: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”

This, the minister must surely realise, is a double-edged sword.

Mbalula is treading a fine line. It is not for a minor politician from a small country at the tip of the African continent to override Olympic policy.

But the even more pressing point is that he has singularly ignored how much the sportsmen and women themselves detest being branded “quota players”.

Shouldn’t he be talking to them?