Sport

Inside SA’s athletics feud

2018-10-22 22:23

The animosity between KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) and Athletics SA (ASA) continues unabated.

In the latest episode, ASA threatened to suspend the board of its provincial affiliate following a resolution taken at a council meeting last weekend.

KZNA did not attend the meeting in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, and ASA did not take kindly to the no-show, despite KZNA submitting a written request to be recused.

Instead, the national athletics governing body said its member was being disrespectful for only sending the request on the eve of the council meeting despite being informed well in advance – along with all the other provinces, as per the constitution.

It is not surprising that things have come to a head as the long-simmering fight between the two bodies is well documented. Tensions seem to have escalated since Sello Mokoena succeeded Aleck Skhosana as president of KZNA in 2012.

Earlier this year, ASA irked its member after the mother body threatened to send a task team to “investigate the KZNA board as to the manner [it was] conducting itself unconstitutionally at ASA council meetings”.

KZNA hit back by claiming that ASA was being “mischievous”.

The latest drama was triggered by ASA admonishing KZNA for strategically skipping last Saturday’s meeting, where the intention to suspend it was expressed.

KZNA was one of the items on the agenda, but the affiliate structure noted in its letter that its board “would be under scrutiny if not on trial at this meeting”.

KZNA stands accused of flouting competition rules and having the tendency to take the national athletics controlling body to court.

ASA wanted KZNA to answer why the provincial structure overruled the decision of the race referee and jury of appeal on the contested results of the Spar Women’s 5km/10km Challenge in Pietermaritzburg on August 19.

ASA boss Aleck Skhosana Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen / Gallo Images

At that race, five elite athletes took the wrong route and were disqualified, but they appealed successfully to KZNA. ASA has now restored the original results.

ASA also wanted to reprimand its provincial member on what it described as a “notable trend of disrespect towards the mother body” and “continued practice of taking ASA to court”.

This is with reference to last month’s legal action by KZNA to interdict the inaugural Africa Athletics League, which only went ahead after the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled in favour of ASA and the Confederation of African Athletics’ southern region.

In his defence, Mokoena told City Press that the conduct of his federation was questioned on a “blind basis”.

I don’t know why we are labelled as disrespectful and got condemned before a council meeting. We were not told what we had done wrong
Sello Mokoena, KZN Athletics president

“KZNA resolved at its board meeting to request not an apology or absenteeism, but instead a recusal [from the ASA council meeting],” 

the letter from KZNA addressed to Skhosana on the eve of last Saturday’s meeting read in part.

“In terms of founding documents of ASA, as well as South African jurisprudence, if and when a council is required to make a decision which may have a negative bearing for or against a member, it is imperative that such a member, juristic or otherwise, be called to make a presentation before such a decision can be taken,” noted the letter.

Mokoena said their standpoint was in line with ASA and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) constitution.

“That our side of the story was never heard is in contravention of the ASA and IAAF constitution. How can recusal be classified as being disrespectful? The conduct of KZNA is questioned on a blind basis.

“That’s the politics that will never be resolved,” said Mokoena, adding that KZNA’s mandate was to develop athletics in its province.

Some within the athletics fraternity have described the tensions as a clear battle of personalities between Mokoena and Skhosana.

The feud was worsened by a 2015 forensic report, which condemned Skhosana for alleged ­misappropriation of lottery funds when he was chairperson of KZNA between 2009 and 2012.

Mokoena was a well-known fierce and vocal critic of the KZNA administration under Skhosana.

Asked about his relationship with Skhosana, he said: “We are not friends, but we have a cordial working relationship.”

Mokoena said he had tried in vain to get an audience with Skhosana to resolve the strained relations.

City Press understands that the ASA council has advised Skhosana not to be involved in the ASA/KZNA feud because he comes from the province.

Skhosana was noncommittal when asked to comment, but he said: “At a personal level, there’s nothing wrong. We meet now and then at meetings.”

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October 20 2019