International Olympic Committee rejects sports minister Nathi Mthethwa’s request

Minister of sports, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa has been told by the International Olympic Committee that his intervention in the Sascoc debacle is not necessary.
Minister of sports, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa has been told by the International Olympic Committee that his intervention in the Sascoc debacle is not necessary.
Image: Gallo Images/Jeffrey Abrahams

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has rejected Sport minister Nathi Mthethwa’s request they intervene in the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) because of controversies around election nominations.

But the Switzerland-based body said they were “obviously unsatisfied with the latest developments and ongoing disputes specifically related to the upcoming Sascoc elections”.

“Therefore‚ we have requested that Sascoc take appropriate steps to promptly resolve the ongoing procedures relating to the electoral process so that free and fair elections can be held as early as possible‚” the IOC said in a letter to Mthethwa.

The letter‚ in possession of TimesLIVE‚ was jointly signed by James MacLeod‚ director of Olympic Solidarity and National Olympic Committee Relations‚ and Qayser Sachdev‚ head of membership engagement of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Mthethwa wrote to the IOC and IPC in early April telling them that since Barry Hendricks had taken over as acting president at the beginning of the year‚ “two key complaints [had] occupied the Sascoc board agenda”.

The one was the allegation by Ntambi Ravele that Hendricks‚ who has since been placed on leave by the Sascoc board‚ had moved to block her nomination as a candidate for the Sascoc presidency by Tennis South Africa (TSA).

The other complaint was the disqualification of other presidential candidates‚ apparently because they failed to submit all the required paperwork.

Mthethwa expressed his concern that the issues would not be resolved in two weeks.

“It is for this reason that I decided to invite your organisation to intervene on these matters and help resolve them because as government we wish to intervene in sport when all else has failed‚” he wrote to the IOC and IPC on April 9.

But his call was rejected outright.

“We believe that any external intervention in the ongoing process would only add complications to the existing situation and delay the election process‚ but please rest assured that we will continue to monitor the situation very closely‚ and we trust that Sascoc will very soon be in a position to hold its elections so as to definitively resolve the current issues.”

Three separate probes have been set up to look into the Hendricks-Ravele issue — one is an arbitration‚ the second is Sascoc’s own investigation into the ethical breach by Hendricks as alleged by an advocate who was asked by Sascoc for a legal opinion‚ and the third is TSA’s own scrutiny into the matter.

An appeal process has been set up for the disqualified candidates to try get onto the list.

The elections were supposed to be held on March 28‚ but were delayed indefinitely by the Covid-19 pandemic‚ although it’s possible it might have been postponed given that the appeal process had dragged deep into April already.

The legal opinion requested by the Sascoc board was dated March 30‚ so it’s anybody’s guess as to how that would have played out had the ballot gone ahead as planned and Hendricks had won the presidency.

Mthethwa had demanded early elections as the final step in repairing the image of the cash-strapped umbrella body‚ which has gone through the mill following a ministerial inquiry which unearthed serious governance breaches.

But not all federations are happy with the board‚ amid claims that it is divided‚ that it is no longer constituted properly and that it has handled the nominations controversy incorrectly.

There’s a chance the executive might not see out the final stretch to the elections following a call by Canoeing South Africa last week for a special general meeting where they want a vote of no confidence in the executive.

They are proposing a team of administrators be appointed instead.

Canoeing needs support from 28 bodies to force Sascoc to call the SGM‚ and they’ve proposed the meeting to take place electronically so it can happen sooner rather than later.

The SA Football Association (Safa) has already backed canoeing’s call.

Officials from several sports bodies were also unimpressed at Mthethwa’s approach to the IOC‚ with some calling it “an over-reach” and others questioning his agenda.