South Africans are almost immune to stories of politicians and civil servants with their snouts in the trough, so commonplace has it become.
Yet, even so, the exorbitant spending at the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee – which emerged in evidence before a ministerial committee of inquiry this week – was still stunning in its brazen nature.
The inquiry was set up to ventilate various allegations around senior management at Sascoc and its board. The dirt has been flying thick and fast, with both sides making so many allegations that the only thing an outsider can be certain of is that none of those involved sounds squeaky clean.
The inquiry heard how various staffers and board members gallivanted around the world, flying first class and staying in five-star hotels.
In one case, it was claimed that Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy’s personal assistant flew first class on a business trip in 2016, at a cost of R90 000. Other evidence was that president Gideon Sam received a daily allowance of R6 000 a day when on Sascoc business abroad, over and above travelling and accommodation costs. Other members received R4 200 as a daily allowance.
Whatever the numbers and whoever is to blame, this much is clear: something is rotten in the state of South African sport. With this level of profligate spending, deserving athletes are being deprived of the financial support they deserve.
Far from aiding sport, Sascoc is hampering it.
Although we are conscious that government interference in sport can run foul of international stipulations, we urge the authorities not to allow the mess at Sascoc to continue unchecked.
Our sportsmen and women deserve far better.