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Adapt or die: SARU to meet Mbalula

Sun, 13 Apr 2014 20:36
Fikile-mbalula
The findings were shocking
Quote-end

The South African Rugby Union will on Monday get a better idea of the government's new 'adapt or die' transformation policy.

Speaking at a general meeting of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee recently Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula revealed that the minimum requirement for the number of blacks in teams have been increased to 60 percent.

However, sporting codes - including rugby - were unsure as to what Mbalula meant when he said the requirement would come into effect "immediately".

SARU hopes to get more clarity on the subject at a "report back meeting" on Monday - where the minister and the Eminent Persons Group, who has monitored national federations, will be present.

While not too many fireworks are expected, it will at least clear up some questions.

Among the questions raised since the recent SASCOC meeting and the minister's increased quotas, were whether the minister was insisting on 13 black players in Super rugby teams with immediate affect and the Springboks from June.

There is also the practicality of such demands, if indeed that was what the minister meant when he spoke at the recent SASCOC meeting.

Mbalula certainly pulled no punches at the meeting.

"On March 25 we received the pilot study on the status of transformation in sport and the findings were shocking," he said in a statement published on the SASCOC website.

"Little has been done to transform and the issue of grassroots transformation and participation of blacks is declining drastically.

"We found poorly maintained infrastructure and a lack of willingness to transform despite the agreement as in the Sports Charter."
 
The minister, Mbalula, also announced far-reaching measures to address transformation.

He said they will "aggressively implement" the quota system as instructed in the National Sports Plan of 2011 in order to phase in equity in sport.

"[We will] insist on a change from a 50-50 proportion to a 40-60 representation both provincial and nationally; as well as seek development plans from those five bodies [athletics, cricket, soccer, netball and rugby] that have been reviewed by the EPG."

And Mbalula warned of harsh punishment if there was any form of resistance to these measures.
 
"Any form of resistance and the government can: withdraw funding to bodies that fail to comply; withdraw national colours to federations holding back, rule that utilising bidding and hosting regulations to be illegal, de-register any body that fails to transform and bar sponsorship to anyone hostile to transformation."
 
The minister said the resolutions of the recent meeting had to be implemented before the new government administration took office after the May 7 general elections.

Strictly speaking it could mean that the government will prevent the Springboks from taking to the field against a World XV and Wales in June if there are not 13 black/non-white players in the team.

The same quotas will apply to all other teams, although Monday's meeting could shed more light on when the minister expects these drastic changes to take place.

It is feared an immediate implementation of the recommended quotas could destroy competitive sport in South Africa.

The practicality of "immediate" implementation has also been called into question.

It is hoped that Monday's meeting could shed some light on the matter.

By Jan de Koning

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