SA sport quotas heading for the courts

2 years ago written by

Quotas in South African sport as introduced by Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula will be put to the test – in South Africa’s highest courts.

Two of South Africa’s most successful litigators against irregular government policies, trade union Solidarity and the civil rights organisation AfriForum announced comprehensive legal plans in response to sport quota systems.

In April Mbalula (pictured above) announced that the four main sports governing bodies – Athletics SA, the South African Rugby Union (SARU), Cricket South Africa and Netball South Africa – may not continue to host any major international tournament in South Africa as they have not yet achieved their transformation targets.

Solidarity – who has taken on large government departments such as the SA Police Service and Department of Correctional Services and won about unfair affirmative labour practices – says sport quotas are not different from unfair labour practices.

According to Solidarity Chief Executive Dr. Dirk Hermann, minister Mbabula’s drastic steps amount to nothing but unfair labour practice. “By no manner of means do the Employment Equity Act and the National Sport and Recreation Act make provision for government interference in the selection of players for teams. This is exactly what the minister is now doing, and as civil society we simply cannot allow this to happen,” Hermann said.

As part of its legal steps Solidarity and AfriForum will now turn to the Labour Court to set aside the South African Rugby Union (SARU’s) Strategic Transformation Plan as well as the Transformation Charter for South African Sport containing government’s transformation targets for sport. Solidarity and AfriForum will also lodge complaints against quotas in sport with the United Nations (UN), various sporting bodies and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Also included is a request for an investigation into each individual sports union’s targets for affirmative action as outlined in their respective affirmative action plans.

Hermann is of the opinion that the affirmative action targets as contained in the Transformation Charter for South African Sport and SARU’s strategic transformation plan are in breach of the Employment Equity Act. “Not only do these plans not take the pool of suitable candidates into consideration but no consultation took place with players or trade unions about the targets in those plans either. We also contend that in effect those plans amount to a quota system, which the Employment Equity Act prohibits,” Hermann said.

AfriForum’s Chief Executive Kallie Kriel explained that the complaints AfriForum and Solidarity will lodge with international sports federations would be based on two strong pillars as the regulations of almost all international sporting bodies expressly prohibit any form of racial discrimination and government interference in sport. “This ban on racial discrimination and government interference is stated unambiguously in the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Charter which is applicable to most forms of sport. It is also contained in the regulations of, among others, the International Rugby Board, The International Cricket Council and the International Netball Federation,” Kriel said.

As part of its legal action Solidarity and AfriForum launched a public referendum to reinforce its case against quotas in sport. Please visit for more information, or SMS the word “no” to 45343.

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