Minister can intervene in selection of sports teams

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

In a far-reaching move, Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile now has the power to force sports teams to select more black players.

This follows the passing by parliament yesterday of the controversial Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill by a unanimous vote led by the majority party, the African National Congress.

Quoting the late sports minister Steve Tshwete, Stofile said that sports bodies are like wheelbarrows.

These bodies will not change on their own and need to be picked up and moved forward, said Stofile .

Stofile will have the power to intervene in disputes in all sporting codes.

The new law was supported by the IFP, the Minority Front, the National Democratic Convention and the PAC.

The PAC's MP Themba Godi said that only soccer has been truly non-racial "even during apartheid", but all other sports have resisted change and their administrators want to protect their "apartheid privileges".

But the law was rejected by the DA, Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP).

The FF+ has threatened to challenge the law internationally, according to the party's MP Willie Spies.

He said that government should stick to its core functions and not interfere in sports.

The ACDP's Cheryllyn Dudley said the law appeared to be an "abuse of power" and she cited "bullying tactics" by the ANC.

Butana Komphela, the chairman of parliament's sports committee, said the new law will allow Stofile to "intervene decisively where anarchy prevails".

Komphela hit the headlines recently when he said that he would urge the government to withdraw the passports of the Springbok rugby team if the sport's administrators did not push for faster transformation.

The Springbok rugby team's selection has been the subject of further controversy recently when the South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins overruled the selectors and coach Jake White by including Stormers player Luke Watson in the team.