Springbok saga was handled with maturity

The Springbok has been given a last-minute reprieve from the gallows.

The Springbok has been given a last-minute reprieve from the gallows.

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) and the government are said to have struck a compromise deal involving the wearing of the Springbok logo on the national team's jerseys.

This is the story we woke up to this week.

It is so big that I read it on samoaobserver.ws.

That's the website of the Sunday Samoan in Australia, if you care to know.

The article said the Springbok emblem - a leaping antelope - has been worn by South African rugby sides since 1906 but that various government officials have called for it to be scrapped because they said it was a divisive symbol linked to the apartheid past.

Saru met Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile in Cape Town and then issued a statement saying the meeting was "very positive".

"The sports minister... explained that legislation requiring the national emblem (King Protea) to be worn on the left-hand side of the jersey of national sports federations will be promulgated by the end of this year.

"We informed him of the earlier decision of the President's Council to fall in line with national legislation.

"The minister also advised us that the commercial emblem of national sporting federations - in rugby's case the Springbok - can be utilised as federations deem fit so long as that use does not compromise the national emblem," the statement quoted Saru president Oregan Hoskins as saying.

This must have pleased chairman of parliament's sport portfolio committee, Butana Komphela to no end.

He can now close this chapter. Or will he?

That remains to be seen.

"The issue of replacing the Springbok with a recognised national emblem was long overdue," Komphela told AFP.

"The sign carries a long history of racial divisions."

We commend all those involved in reaching an amicable settlement on this issue as it had the potential of causing deep-rooted divisions among the nation.

They displayed a great sense of maturity.

Common sense prevailed in the true spirit of reconciliation which many of this country's great leaders have been preaching since 1992 when former president Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

Former Saru president Silas Nkanunu believes changing the logo will not address the real issues affecting the sport's development and its promotion among blacks.

"The move smacks of political power play," Nkanunu told AFP.

He said he did not understand how the emblem was racially divisive, saying some black players had adopted the Springbok even before South Africa's race-based rugby bodies unified into a national group in the early 1990s.

Our blood is green!

Now, because the issue is still alive and well and is said to be inclusive of all sports federations, can we see Komphela taking it up with Safa.

We believe the current Bafana Bafana jersey should be recalled ala former president Thabo Mbeki.

The reason being that the national emblem, the King Protea, is not on the left but on the right-hand side of the jersey.

And, according to Komphela's argument that is out of order and completely wrong.

Dr Oliphant, are you listening?

If we, and one wonders why we shouldn't, follow Komphela and his cohorts on the debate then the Safa logo on the jersey should make way for the protea.

As agreed, where they place that is their baby, not Komphela's or Stofile's.

Now, hundreds of thousands of these jerseys have been bought by football followers countrywide.

That was encouraged by everybody and one can bet one's last Zim dollar, the two gentlemen may also be "proud" owners of Mike Ntombela and Adidas' largesse.

Their surnames, like mine, might be emblazoned on the back.

The ordinary football lover must have parted with a fortune to acquire one. These jerseys don't come cheap, as anyone around would testify.

Will someone compensate those that return the current ones for the forthcoming politically correct ones?

If so, who will that be?