Sascoc president Hendricks tells parliament's portfolio committee how sports minister Mthethwa is 'interfering'

Tiisetso Malepa Sports reporter
Barry Hendricks, Sascoc president, during the SASCOC Sponsorship announcement with Planet Fitness at SASCOC Olympic House on March 24, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Barry Hendricks, Sascoc president, during the SASCOC Sponsorship announcement with Planet Fitness at SASCOC Olympic House on March 24, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Gallo Images

An upbeat Sascoc president Barry Hendricks reiterated the sports controlling body’s stance that minister Nathi Mthethwa is interfering in the Cricket South Africa (CSA) saga over the controversial amendments to the organisation’s constitution during a sitting of parliament’s portfolio committee.

Hendricks led the delegation of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) that appeared before the members of the oversight body in a virtual session to account on CSA matters.

Hendricks called on the committee to investigate its assertion that minister Mthethwa is interfering.

Hendricks said it was “illegal” for minister Mthethwa to invoke section 13(5) of the sports act.

“We have tried to explain before‚” Hendricks told the committee before reading out clause (b)(ii) of section 13 which states that the minister may not interfere in matters relating to administration‚ appointment or termination of the service of the executive members of a federation.

“The issue that we have here is that on two occasions the members council of CSA met at duly constituted meetings called SGMs to deal with the matter of adopting the MOI‚” said Hendricks.

“On the first meeting they decided not to adopt the MOI and specifically relating to key points and that is the demand from the Minister and Nicholson that the majority of Board members must be independent.

“The second issue‚ and this is the demand solely from the minister‚ is that the president should be an independent person as well.

“As I have previously explained to this committee‚ in 2012 the board of Sascoc sat down with the legal team of the department of sports and they came to a conclusion that based on the preference for civil society structures to elect their preferred leaders‚ because they are so constituted‚ that majority of board of CSA should be independent.

“That was rejected then and it was accepted then by the then minister Fikile Mbalula.

“That is the policy. The Sascoc meeting on Saturday agreed that the policy will remain and there were no members who disagreed with that position.

“After the CSA members council did not adopt the MOI the minister was not happy and asked them to go back to find common ground.

“At the second SGM the members council again did not adopt the MOI but the minister this time went further and invoked section 13 of the sport and recreation act‚ in order not recognising CSA as a national federation and defunding them.

“For us that is a clear violation of section 13(5)(b)(ii) which says that the minster must not interfere in the appointment or termination of the executive members.

“By invoking section 13‚ which we feel was illegal or wrong‚ the minister effectively threatened cricket and the sponsors of cricket and thereby the members council relented and adopted the resolution that there be a majority of independent board and an independent chairperson.

“Sascoc disagrees with that process and that sort of threatening behaviour and using an act‚ which we believe wrongly‚ to get a particular election process to be adopted and for certain members of the executive to be placed on a national federation sport‚” said Hendricks.

“In that respect chairperson‚ can I ask that the oversight function of the portfolio committee be invoked in this particular case as well.

“The plea from Sascoc is whether a focus study group could take place to check whether the minister did in fact flout the sport act or not and for this committee to then provide us with advice regarding that particular matter.

“That is our plea for the committee to investigate this and provide with findings to assist us on this matter to understand whether we are right or wrong.”

Hendricks came under fire from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) committee members over Sascoc’s interference claims on the minister but the Sascoc boss stuck to his guns while opposition parties were more interested in the details.

Hendricks said Mthethwa’s actions‚ which include invoking section 13‚ strong armed the CSA member council into adopting the amendments.

Hendricks said the minister Mthethwa’s handling of the CSA matter threatened cricket and its sponsors and that Sascco was merely trying protect the autonomy of sports from government.

ANC MP Mthenjwa Zondi asked: “I just wish to know‚ the autonomy of sports needs to be protected against who? Who is threatening cricket in South Africa?”

Hendricks responded and said “the minister is threatening the autonomy of cricket by invoking the act and by insisting that certain members of the executive or the makeup of the CSA executives be entrenched based on his will”.

The department of sport’s director-general Vusi Mkhize told Hendricks that Sascoc failed to deal with the CSA matter in the first place.

“Sponsors were beginning to leave CSA and their international reputation was damaged. Sports does not belong to leaders‚ it is South African who own sport.

“The minister did not invite himself to this cricket matter‚” said Mkhize.

Deputy sports minister Nocawe Mafu also weighted in.

“At the end of the day the minister has executive authority he has got political authority to make sure that things go well‚” said Mafu.