Month: December 2017

Is the KZNA fight about egos?

So, now that the facts are becoming clearer, it is more obvious that the dispute in KwaZulu Natal is about settling old scores between individuals and not so much about what is good for the sport.

The attached court papers show us that (a) KZNA is seeking to stop an area of KwaZulu Natal forming its own athletics federation and affiliating to ASA; and (b) there is bad blood between Aleck Skhosana and Sello Mokoena.

KZNA v ASA Court Papers (1)

KZNA v ASA Court Papers (2)

To understand this properly, we need to backtrack a bit and remember some facts.

During 2011 members of KZNA approached Athletics South Africa with evidence of serious financial irregularities in the affairs of KZNA, then run by Skhosana. Just one project alone was audited and irregularities to the value of close to R100 000 were discovered. Skhosana was then a member of the ASA board and was instructed to investigate and report to the board. He did not. At the end of 2011 ASA reported the matter to the SA Police in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004, since that Act requires persons in authority to report corruption. Skhosana himself did not report the matter in terms of the Act.

In 2012 KZNA held an AGM to elect new office bearers. Due to the volume of complaints received from KZNA members, ASA sent its then CEO to oversee the election process. After a lot of politicking about who were actual members of KZNA or not, that was resolved and elections were held. Aleck Skhosana lost the election for president of KZNA to Sello Mokoena.

Later in 2012 the KZNA government completed a forensic report which made several damning findings against several persons, including against Skhosana. It stated that no action could be taken against him by the athletics authorities, as he was no longer an office-bearer. However, it did not explain why this did not apply if he was a licenced member of KZNA (which one has to assume as he had stood for election).

Mokoena took no further action on any of the information at the disposal of the new KZNA board.

Then, in 2013, Mokoena’s KZNA opposed a proposal to amend the ASA constitution to bring it in line with the Nasional Sport and Recreation Plan, which had been accepted by all federations (including ASA) at the Sports Indaba in 2011. The relevant provisions related to changing the boundaries of sports federations to reflect the geo-political boundaries in South Africa.

To explain, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa provides for nine provinces, each with their own provincial administration. Under those provinces there is local government, which is divided up into 52 districts (strictly speaking 8 metros and 44 district councils). See the list of Local Government Councils in South Africa

The relevance of this move was to streamline funding. Provincial government has funding for sport, as does local government. The Constitution provides that provincial government has exclusive competence over provincial sport and concurrent jurisdiction over local sports facilities. One District or Municipal Council cannot fund activities in another District or Municipality.

However, ASA has desperately clung to the old ‘provincial’ boundaries, which have their origins in the apartheid era. So, we still have ‘Central Gauteng’ (CGA) which largely mirrors the boundaries of the old Southern Transvaal. But CGA covers two Metros (Ekhuruleni and Johannesburg) and the West Rand District. If you organise an event in Germiston (in Ekhuruleni) you can’t ask Johannesburg (which includes Soweto) to help fund it. None of them can legally fund a CGA team, as they may be funding athletes resident in another District or Metro.

In the Western Cape, we have Western Province, Boland and South Western Districts according to ASA, but the Constitution recognises Cape Town, West Coast, Overberg, Cape Winelands, Central Karoo and Eden. So local government again is limited in what funding it can given, other than to events directly in their area.

In short, there is no logical basis for the geographical boundaries in Athletics in South Africa. ASA has 17 ‘provinces’, South Africa has nine provinces. That should say enough.

Since there is no legal or financial basis for retaining the old apartheid model (which still recognises Transkei as a separate unit), why is it still in place after all of these years and why the vociferous opposition to the proposal to change (in a different article, the events of 2013 and 2014 will be explained) to the Sports Indaba instruction?

Simple: Empires. In most areas of South Africa, athletics has died. For example, ‘Border’ (ie the area named after the old colonial ‘border’ with Transkei) has all but collapsed. It does not send athletes to national championships anymore, other than one or two occasionally. It does not consistently hold track & field provincial championships. But it exists and has a vote, and has a president who will rule for life. Transkei Athletics is a sham. It was being investigated in late 2012 for serious financial irregularities, an ASA office report at the time indicated that it was effectively being run as a personal business of one or two individuals, with no financial systems in place. The list goes on (and it will all be disclosed). If the Sports Indaba model was introduced these units would disappear and the emperors would lose their thrones. ‘Border’ for instance, would break up into two or three different new unions or federations and Border, Eastern Province and Transkei would disappear to become Eastern Cape (something that the ASA Council had decided on by 2009 already). All the emperors would have to stand down and compete in a bigger pool.

So what has this to do with KZNA. KZNA already reflects the political boundaries of KwaZulu Natal. But that is only at provincial level. It does not have district members, only clubs. So all a president needs to do is get the clubs of Durban to support him and the rest is easy. It is not difficult to see how one district in KZNA (eThekwini) rules the rest, as it will have the most clubs and members. There is no doubt that only 2 or maybe 3 districts out of 11 in KZN are active in the activities of KZNA, other than at school level. No doubt Mokoena will point to isolated projects or clubs, but there is no sustainable athletics in the majority of the districts of KZN.

If the emperor had accepted the new model proposed in 2012, which meant that KZNA would be made up of 11 districts, with the clubs affiliating to the districts, he stood the risk of having to garner votes from 11 districts, most of which he was doing nothing for, and not only getting the majority of the Durban clubs to vote for him. And teams would represent districts, not ‘provinces’ so individual emperors would not be able to boast to each other about how many medals ‘they’ had won. Being a ‘provincial’ president did not seem as attractive anymore and thus had to be opposed at all costs.

So, let’s come back to the current dispute. You have two parties – ASA and KZNA – who are both vehemently opposed to rearranging the boundaries in athletics. One is lead by Skhosana, who knows Mokoena and KZNA could alter his destiny by pursuing the corruption issue from when Skhosana ran KZNA. The other is lead by Mokoena, who seems to have run out of friends and who knows that Skhosana has every reason to want to remove him.

We have seen why ‘provincial’ presidents don’t want to change the boundaries, as their empires would collapse.

Why is ASA against it? Because they control the vast majority of ‘provinces’ and are propping up tame presidents who will do what they are told. Add to that, the power brokers in South African athletics – Boland Athletics, who have no interest whatsoever in a new dispensation, as they would cease to exist and would split into Overberg and Cape Winelands. Not only would they cease to exist but someone may start scratching in their books and find if there is any truth the allegations which were made in 2012. If uMgungundlovu is allowed to join ASA as a member, what is to stop any other District or Metro applying to be a member?

So, ASA are unlikely to ever accept a new District becoming a full member of ASA.

Throw into the mix uMgungundlovu, who want to implement the National Sports Plan by being a district union or federation and you have the fuse which is going to ignite the war between Skhosana and Mokoena, dragging their federations into court. All because Mokoena thinks ASA might recognise uMgungundlovu, which is unlikely to ever happen.

To summarise – this fight is about egos. Not about athletics or athletes, but administrators with huge big egos.