From tomorrow the labour movement Solidarity will be arguing an application in the Johannesburg Labour Court to set aside the Ministry of Sport and Recreation’s transformation charter. This court case is part of Solidarity and minority rights group AfriForum’s joint campaign against applying quotas in sport.
In the run-up to the case Solidarity and AfriForum, by means of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia), managed to obtain the specific quota percentages for each of the various sports in May 2017.
This information revealed that the intention of sports authorities goes way beyond team selection. It even involves the composition according to race of coaches, board and committee members and support staff – in short, it would seem that sports authorities want to regulate the racial composition of all employees in the work environment that sport constitutes in a central way.
According to Solidarity Deputy Chief Operations Officer Werner Human, court papers were accordingly prepared and served as a consequence. The respondents in this case are the South African Rugby Union (SARU), Cricket South Africa (Cricket SA), Athletics South Africa (ASA) and Netball South Africa (NSA) as well as the Minister of Sport. The respondents are all opposing Solidarity’s court application.
Human contends that, if approved, this transformation charter would give Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa almost unlimited power over sport. Human explains, for example, that should a sport not meet the quota percentage, that particular sport’s funding could be stopped. “The effect of the powers the minister would have is that she could strip the Springboks of their blazers if rugby has not ‘transformed’ enough,” Human said.
“Using race as criterion for team selection is in conflict with the players’ constitutional rights. To carry on pursuing quotas and to politicise sports in South Africa even more will be a recipe by which all players will lose out,” Human said.
Human also believes the recent circular issued by South African Schools Athletics (Sasa) is indicative of the extent to which and how drastically convoluted the race quota system has become in sport. If Solidarity’s court application is successful it would mean that circulars such as this one would be null and void.
“It is ironic that the ruling party now wants to apply quotas, while in 1970 they pleaded with international bodies that sportsmen and women must be judged on merit. Therefore, we stand by our point of view that merit should be the only factor in the selection of sports teams,” Human added.
As a result of the constant pressure Solidarity and AfriForum brought to bear the ban imposed by the former Minister of Sport in April 2016 was lifted. This charter, and the increasing pressure to comply with race quotas in sport will result in sport becoming a political commodity in South Africa rather than being a space for all athletes and players to showcase their talents.
If Solidarity’s court application succeeds it will make an end to the politicising of sport, and the focus will be on developing and using the talents of all athletes and players.