Mbalula talks tough on transformation, unveils sports awards nominees

Johannesburg – Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says he wants to see progress on how federations have transformed when the country celebrates 20 years of democracy.

Speaking at The New Age (TNA) Business Briefing on Wednesday, Mbalula also said there will be consequences for those who stand in the way of transformation, adding that the country cannot afford to discuss theories without practical results.

Mbalula also paid tribute to the nominees of the SA Sports Awards 2013, who were announced during the briefing.

“We have put benchmarks from the Sports Indaba. You know that we agreed on the Transformation Charter, we agreed on the score cards. We agreed to maintain the scorecards from the Indaba.

“Post that Sports Indaba, as part of the consequences of the implementation of the National Sports Plan, first and foremost is to entrench the School Sport Programme. But over and above that, we have appointed the Eminent Persons Group that is working with the federations to ensure that people do implement transformation in their different federations.

“And there will be consequences if you don’t implement, and in the long term, it is a question of the legislation. It is not negotiable; it is not a question of luxury. If you don’t implement transformation, there will be consequences,” he said.

Transformation in sport, especially in rugby and cricket, has been a hot potato in the sports industry, which has led to Mbalula meeting with various federations to thrash out plans in partnership with the industry on how transformation can be implemented by all parties.

Mbalula said on Wednesday that bodies tasked with conducting research on transformation were currently hard at work and would soon give him an indication in the form of scientific evidence on the obstacles to transformation.

“In my view, we are celebrating 20 years of freedom, and in those 20 years, there was a lapse and we are catching up on those 20 years. If you look at what we have done in the past two years… you would think that [the Sports Ministry has been working for 30 years] and this only happened in two years,” he said.

“We should be looking back in 20 years and ask what have we achieved with quotas? … We will not be talking theory as if we are not going forward.”

Sports awards nominees announced

Earlier on before his comments, Mbalula observed the announcement of all the nominees for the SA Sports Awards 2013.

Mbalula said this year’s awards ceremony will be yet another “Razzmatazz event” that will prove to be a “humdinger of an event”.

The nominees for the main category of Sports Star of the Year Award includes Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune; Proteas batsman Hashim Amla; wheelchair tennis champion Lucas Sithole; Olympic and Commonwealth swimming champion Chad Le Clos and middle distance athlete Mapaseka Makhanya.

The winner from this category will walk away with R1 million and a luxury car. All nominees from all categories will get a guaranteed R10 000.

Khune, Amla and world record holding swimmer Cameron van der Burgh were also nominated in the Sportsman of the Year category, while Makhanya also got nominated in the Sportswoman of the Year category, alongside two-time Ladies European Tour winner Lee-Anne Pace and Springbok women’s captain Mandisa Williams.

In the Team of the Year category, The Proteas, Springboks and Kaizer Chiefs were announced as the contenders for the award, while Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, national swimming coach Graham Hill and Tennis SA coach Holger Losch were nominated in the Coach of the Year category.  

Mbalula said sport was the centre of social cohesion and nation building. He said Cabinet was behind the implementation of the National Sports Plan to ensure development and excellence in sports. Going forward, there will be no room for poor performance and mediocrity, the minister said.

Asked about his thoughts on Sithole, who last month became the first African to win the US Open Quad Grand Slam, Mbalula said: “We are, [through] that young man, sitting in the presence of greatness.”

Sithole lost both his legs and his right arm in a train accident in KwaZulu-Natal in 1998.

To view the rest of the nominees, visit www.sasportsawards.com.  – SAnews.gov.za