NEWS & ANALYSIS

ANC govt must learn to keep politics out of sport – Anton Alberts

FF Plus MP says ruling party's obsession with race is evident even on the sports field

ANC government must learn to keep politics out of sport

22 May 2018

The ANC government’s obsession with race, even on the sports field, is evident in the hastiness of the Minister of Sport, Ms Tokozile Xasa, to immediately choose sides in the Supersport/Ashwin Willemse incident and to make it a racial issue.

In their own investigation into the matter, Supersport found that the incident had nothing to do with race and the least that the Minister could do is to apologise to all South Africans for her rash behaviour and for painting Willemse and his fellow presenters with the broad brush of racial bias.

The government’s policy on sport is to ultimately exclude all participation by minorities by means of compulsory quotas and not just to segregate like apartheid. The former Minister (Fikile Mbalula) even went as far as threatening national sports boards with the withdrawal of accreditation and prohibiting international participation.

Section 9(1) of South Africa’s Constitution states that everyone is equal before the law. Section 9(2) makes provision for redressing inequalities in our society. There is nothing wrong with addressing inequalities, but it must be done by creating equal opportunities and not equal outcomes at the cost of minorities.

The terms “transformation” and “demographic representation” aim to ensure equal outcomes and the FF Plus is of the opinion that that is unconstitutional as it is in contravention of Section 9(2). It can be explained as follows based on a Constitutional Court ruling:

- Transformation calls for quotas based on demographic representation. The Constitutional Court found that race can only be one of the factors that play a role in Affirmative Action appointments.

- The Constitutional Court also found that quotas are unlawful.

If we consider the fact that sportsmen and -women are employed by sports associations, then any attempt by the government to enforce quotas to ensure demographic representation is inherently unconstitutional.

The fact that Section 9(2) addresses discrimination in the previous as well as in the current dispensation also needs mention. It means that any present discrimination by the government must also be redressed.

The implication is that a sport or a sports team that has too many black participants must also be transformed to accommodate minorities. Soccer is an example of such a sport as white, coloured and Indian people are largely unrepresented there.

The absurdity of social manipulation is obvious. Merit must be the only measure for sport. People who are selected for the wrong reasons are doomed to fail and, in the end, these people and sports on the whole in South Africa suffer seeing as spectator numbers are dwindling and income is decreasing. Everybody loses in the process.

Rather create equal opportunities. Sportsmen and -women who perform well are loved and popular among all spectators, regardless of their colour.

It is, therefore, important for the government to focus on creating opportunities for all, particularly in the poorer areas where there are almost no sports fields and instructors. I frequently asked the former Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula, where are the sports grounds in the less-privileged areas? What is the money allocated to sport by the fiscus used for? I am still waiting for an answer.

Issued by Anton Alberts, FF Plus chairperson and parliamentary spokesperson: Sport and Recreation, 22 May 2018