race row twist

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile says the Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is a non-governmental organisation and therefore his department cannot censure statements the federation makes in the media.

This comes after Sascoc's president Moss Mashishi announced after their yearly general meeting on Saturday that they had decided to cut ties with parliament's portfolio committee on sport and recreation.

Sascoc decided to sever ties with the committee after claims of racial slurs attributed to its chairman Butana Komphela in the media.

They concluded that the status quo will remain until a conducive climate for a constructive relationship is established between the two parties.

Komphela was reported to have said that there was no transformation at Sascoc as there were still whites and Indians running the body.

Sascoc resolved to report Komphela's comments to the Human Rights Commission.

Said Stofile: "We wish to point out that South Africa is a constitutional state with a make-up of parliament and the executive. The sport and recreation portfolio committee is a committee of parliament and is answerable to the Speaker of Parliament. We, as the department, have no jurisdiction over it. We have no responsibility nor do we have an oversight over it."

But the ANC parliamentary caucus yesterday described Mashishi's statement as "reckless" and "arrogant".

"Caucus regards the statement published widely in the media as reckless and in contempt of the constitution, which all responsible citizens are enjoined to uphold and respect," the ANC said.

"We find it unfortunate that a person of Mashishi's stature can make statements that sought to reflect an open disrespect for the institution and disdain to its standing.

"Mashishi's statements further exhibited arrogance in that he sought to dictate who the ANC should deploy to parliament and how the institution should be run as a condition for his organisation's cooperation.

"Such conduct is unbecoming of a person leading such an important organisation in our society. We therefore strongly condemn his behaviour."

While Sascoc is satisfied with its resolution, Athletics South Africa (ASA's) board yesterday described the resolution as unfortunate.

"We believe that the decision to boycott the parliamentary portfolio committee on sport and recreation amounts to a decision to boycott our own government," ASA said.

"We abstained and expressed our objection when this resolution was mooted at the Sascoc AGM. This decision could not have been taken without a mandate from ASA but we never had an opportunity to discuss it outside the AGM. We also did not wish to be seen to be unnecessarily confrontational." lAdditional reporting by Sapa