Johannesburg - After a little more than 100 days in office, Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi has started to whip SA’s structures into shape, writes S’busiso Mseleku.
After being appointed by President Jacob Zuma as minister of sports and recreation in March, Thulas Nxesi got off to a slow start.
However, in the past week, he has embarked on a journey that is set to entrench him as “Mr Clean-Up” in the world of local sport. Yesterday, he attended the South African Football Association’s (Safa) national executive committee meeting, where he first bared his fangs.
“I told them that, between them [Safa and the Premier Soccer League], they need to sort out the club-versuscountry conundrum. This has gone on for far too long,” he told City Press on Friday.
“I also told Safa that it needed to sort out the stand-off between it and Sasfa [the South African Schools Football Association]. Safa is a federation and all football in this country falls under its jurisdiction. You can’t have small groupings having their own gigs.”
And then, boom!
On Tuesday, he announced that he was forming two committees of enquiry into the South Africa Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and the recent stampede at the FNB Stadium, which claimed two lives during the Carling Black Label Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
On Friday, Nxesi said: “We have finalised both terms of reference for the two committees. They will each be chaired by a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal, with a senior council and a third member to lead evidence. I hope to announce full details by the end of next week [this week].”
Nxesi said that all that was left was for the department of justice to finalise the appointment of the two judges and for National Treasury to approve the costs of the two commissions.
According to documents seen by City Press, the “committee to investigate facts and events that led to the death of two soccer fans and injury to 21 other fans” will be chaired by Judge Ronald Pillay, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal, and Advocate Lindi Nkosi-Thomas SC will be an additional member. The other “committee to investigate allegations of irregularities or malpractices in the governance of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee” is still to be formed.
Nxesi said he had informed International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach about these developments to avoid accusations of government interference.
Commenting on the committees, he said: “Sascoc is the mother body of all sporting federations. We cannot fold our arms when there are such serious allegations against it.”
On the deadly stamped at FNB, he said: “There was a stampede in 1998 and another one in 2001 when these two clubs played. There are recommendations from the Ngoepe Commission of Inquiry that followed the 2001 tragedy. It is important to establish if all the recommendations have been implemented and, if so, why the latest incident happened.”
He said that, although the PSL had established its own enquiry, it was important for government to act on behalf of the country’s citizens.
In his bid to bring order to sport, Nxesi risks going toe to toe with some of the most powerful sporting personalities in Sascoc president Gideon Sam, Safa head Danny Jordaan and PSL boss Irvin Khoza, who is also vice-president at Safa.
First we had sports minister of Steve “Mr Fix-It” Tshwete, then Makhenkesi Stofile, followed by Ngconde Balfour and Fikile “Razzmatazz” Mbalula; could it be that we now have a “Mr Clean-Up”?
Only time will tell.