Controversy over Indian, white domination of South African sport

July 30th, 2008 - 12:31 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, July 30 (IANS) A race row has erupted in South Africa with parliamentary sports and recreation committee chairperson Butana Komphela alleging that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympics Committee (Sascoc) is “full of Indians and whites” who do not understand the need to transform the country’s sport. Even as Sascoc defied a request from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee (PPC) to appear before it Tuesday to answer questions on its alleged lack of transformation, a heated debate saw even more racist remarks being made as an African member of the committee shouted down a white member of parliament, asking him to “get that white mentality out of your mind”.

Three of the 14-member executive committee of Sascoc are of Indian origin. They are seasoned veteran Sam Ramsamy, who went into exile in the apartheid era to campaign for the isolation of South African sport; Hajera Kajee, who is a vice president at Sascoc; and Jace Naidoo.

Outside the committee, three top Sascoc positions are held by South African Indians - Shuab Manjra is the chief medical officer to the Olympic Games contingent; Tubby Reddy is the chief operating officer; and Vinesh Maharaj is the chief financial officer.

Mubarak Mohamed, a leading sports administrator, has come out against the allegations made against Sascoc, which is tasked with preparing the South African team for the Olympics.

Mohamed, who is a South African of Indian origin and vice president of the South African Football Association, told the weekly City Press that he was disappointed to be called “an Indian” by Komphela.

“I was born and bred in South Africa and, as a result, I am an African. I fought in the struggle (against apartheid) and I am still a member of the African National Congress. Komphela can’t call me an Indian when it suits him,” Mohamed said.

The PPC may now consider using its legislative authority to summon Sascoc to its hearings, even as some affiliates of the national body reportedly distanced themselves from the Sascoc decision to defy the request, among them Athletics South Africa, the South African Rugby Union and Cricket South Africa.

Sascoc received nine million rands ($1.2 million) from the sports and recreation ministry last year to prepare the country’s squad for the Beijing Olympics.

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