National Assembly sport and recreation committee chairman Butana Komphela has again questioned the lack of transformation in South African sport, while the team sent to represent the country at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi this month was considered “too white” and looked like it “came from Europe”.
Team SA walked away with 33 medals, including 12 gold, in New Delhi, but while the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Makhenkesi Stofile, was full of praise for the team after the Games, IOL reports that Komphela instead questioned the lack of transformation in the team.
Khompela is well known for his stance on transformation in SA sport. He once went as far as threatening to withhold Springbok players’ passports if the team did not reflect the demographics of the country.
On Tuesday, the Sports and Recreation Department was appearing before the committee to account for its performance for the 2009/10 financial year, but while Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation Gert Oosthuizen made no mention of transformation during his overview, the topic became central to discussions.
Speaking to the committee, Khompela revealed that South Africa’s envoy to India, Harris Mbulelo Majeke, was especially critical of the demographics of the team competing in India.
“The high commissioner said to me ‘that team is too white, make that team come from South Africa’,” said Komphela.
He added: “The team looked like it came from Europe. We are not saying take kids from the streets, but why is there no concentrated effort to transform sport?
“To London (2012 Olympics), send an SA team. The Samoan team looked more South African; ours looked like it’s from the queen,” he said.
Komphela went on to criticise the department for what he called “a conspicuous silence on transformation by the department”, and he was not alone. According to IOL, a number of MPs laid into Oosthuizen on Tuesday over lack of transformation.
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, however, said Majeke’s comments were opportunistic and that it was, in fact, the ANC that had failed in transforming South African sport.
“I am not saying transformation means replacing a white person with a black person; it means that there is a need to develop infrastructure,” Holomisa said.
“They (the department) have done nothing. It does not seem as if any training or development of institutions has been implemented. You can ask them for their registers of those players playing at club level, and they will not have it. They have failed dismally.”