The Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation has heard that a number of sport federations have been placed under administration, as disputes are not resolved fast enough.

The establishment of an ad-hoc Sport Arbitration Tribunal which will be able to resolve disputes amongst sport and recreation bodies within a certain time period has been highlighted as one of the main proposed amendments to the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill [B43-2018].

The Minister of Sports and Recreation, Ms Tokozile Xasa, said that the dispute resolution procedure outlined in the current Act is fraught with conflicts of interest and the establishment of an arbitration tribunal will allow for early government intervention. Officials in the department told the committee that although the current legislation allows the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) to intervene in disputes, these interventions are not enough and often requires government intervention. This often comes at a time when the disputes have already caused the federations to deteriorate.

Members of the committee raised a number issues. The proposed recognition of Sports and Recreation South Africa as the only authority for the administration and control of the relative code of sport in the republic will exclude both local and provincial administrations. This should rather be amended to “supreme authority”.

Members said that the proposed amendments bestow upon the Minister many far-reaching powers, including the ability to determine and allocate responsibilities to national federations by way of a notice in the Government Gazette. They questioned the possible reaction of international sports bodies to the proposed amendments, which might create the impression that government wants to exercise coercive power over the sporting industry.

Officials said that benchmarking exercises have indicated that the laws and regulations in other countries are much stricter in directing the behaviour of the sporting industry. 

Ms Xasa said that the bill seeks to strengthen the hand of the Minister and extend the powers of regulation to bring greater clarity and certainty to the position of the law in the administration of sports in South Africa. The bill thus seeks to address the challenge experienced by the Minister in the appointment of investigative committees. The powers of the Minister to do this have always been challenged by those perceived to be in the wrong, Ms Xasa explained. She gave the example of the Stadium Management South Africa and the death of spectators at the FNB stadium in July 2017.

The committee instructed the department to take into consideration the issues and questions raised by the committee. The committee acknowledged the importance of the presented amendments, but because the bill is a Section 76 bill, it requires the consideration of both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Due to the packed parliamentary programme before the Houses rise in the next few weeks, there may not be enough time for the bill to go through these processes.   

The Portfolio Committee was yesterday (Tuesday, 20 November 2018) briefed by the Department of Sports and Recreation on the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill [B43-2018]. The bill seeks, amongst other things, to provide for the promotion and development of sport and recreation; to establish a Sport Arbitration Tribunal to resolve disputes between sport or recreation bodies; to provide for and regulate combat sport; and to provide for and regulate the fitness industry.

Felicia Lombard

21 November 2018