Fikile Mbalula: Every bit the pompous little gauleiter – Politicsweb, 26 April 2016

Sara Gon says minister's obsession with racial proportionality, above all else, has a Goebbels-esque whiff about it.

By Sara Gon

A most mystifying aspect of ANC rule is the preference for stick over carrot. It would rather punish than incentivise us. The government knows it can hurt us rather than encourage us. So it does.

Our Minister of Sport and Recreation (and Twitter), Fikile Mbalula, has suspended the privileges of SA Rugby, Cricket South Africa, Netball South Africa and Athletics SA from bidding for international tournaments due to a lack of transformation.

In practical terms it probably means very little, but it’s a spectacular way to generate resentment towards the government in general and Mbalula in particular.

"I have resolved to revoke the privilege of Athletics South Africa (ASA), Cricket South Africa (CSA), Netball South Africa (NSA) and South African Rugby (SARU) to host and bid for major and mega international tournaments in the Republic of South Africa as a consequence of the aforementioned federations, not meeting their own set transformation targets with immediate effect.”

"I will review this decision when considering the results of the 2016/2017 Transformation Barometer.”

Mbalula made the announcement during the release of the ‘Eminent Persons Group on Transformation in Sport’ report in Pretoria on 25 April 2016.

"In respect of the South African Football Association, I am delighted that SAFA has met its transformation targets. I will, however, issue a Ministerial directive to SAFA as a consequence of their poor drive to penetrate and roll out football in former Model C schools and private schools.”

SAFA has never had to meet targets. Soccer has always been a majority black sport and since the push for “transformation” very few whites have chosen to become involved in professional soccer. Now there are virtually none.

He said the Transformation Charter was the lodestar of the sport movement that drew attention to the immediate and inevitable necessity for the Sport System to Transform for both Moral and Strategic imperatives.

He said morally, it was "the right thing to do", considering the grave injustices of the past. And it was strategically necessary, because of the reality that 84% of the country’s under-18-year-old population was black African and only 16% white, coloured and Indian.

He said to ignore this strategic reality, from a sustainability perspective alone, would be suicidal.

Mbalula said: "It is not my intention to disrupt the momentum gained from the implementation of the Transformation Barometer and the global competitive edge of some federations and sports bodies. However, I am mindful of the urgent task for federations to move with speed in the direction of providing quality of opportunities and access to the youth of our country."

Mbalula’s statement is reminiscent of a proclamation from one of the many bloodthirsty rulers on “Game of Thrones”. There is something particular about this example of the government’s social engineering that brings to mind National Socialism or Nazism.

Probably the reason is that it illustrates more than anything the government’s determination to eliminate choice from the lives of South Africans. It also seeks to remove cultural and recreational preferences. Perhaps Mbalula intends putting demographic quotas on the music we listen to or the religious institutions we go to.

The nagging persistence with racial percentages above all other factors that gives off a Goebbels-esque whiff. Add to that “Transforming for Moral and Strategic imperatives” and the fascist picture is complete. Mbalula is every bit the pompous little gauleiter.

Lack of facilities and opportunities are not the only reason why soccer can fill its quotas without doing anything. It has a lot to do with choice. Black South Africans largely choose to play soccer; Indians choose to play cricket.

Everywhere else in the world sporting bans are organised by one country against the other in protest against something that the latter has or hasn’t done, usually a breach of human rights. The classic examples were the sporting bans against South African rugby and cricket because of apartheid. These sports bans became the stuff of legend.
Mbalula has achieved a first: banning ourselves from potentially performing against others.

Representation in sport is as much, if not more, about choice than opportunity or access. To require professional sport to transform per the country’s demographic is nonsensical and unachievable. National demographics is ‘paint-by-numbers’ affirmative action.

A very tiny minority of the world’s 7 billion people have the innate talent to excel at professional sport. This is before opportunity and training are offered. Sporting prowess cannot be summoned up in response to racial profiling and national demographics.

Cricketers Kagiso Rabada and Temba Bavuma trained at elite private sporting schools. Unless a child attends one of the country’s handful of elite sporting schools, they will never make a professional side irrespective of innate talent, physique, discipline and hard work. This is not unique to South Africa.

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer, News24 wrote an article about cricket (Politicsweb, 1 February 2016) expressing concern that excellence is being sacrificed at the altar of political correctness or dubious politburo agendas.

Houwing senses a palpable tension and disillusionment within the broad South African cricketing landscape, much of it centred around the suddenly increased demands for transformation.

Houwing says imperative as transformation is, methods and policies must be monitored and critiqued all the time. He is not convinced the present model is benefiting the greater cricketing cause. It may just set up individuals to fail.

Successful players inspire youngsters, irrespective of colour. A failed or mediocre player of any colour, will not inspire anyone. Black and white fans idolise great performers irrespective of colour.

As ‘former Model C’ schools integrate, so sports like rugby have given way to soccer. A change reflected by a change in demand, which is as it should be.
Education and employment must take precedence over sport. A handful of black sportsmen not mean much in the overall scheme of things.

As more black kids get the opportunities to support careers like Rabada and Bavuma did, so more blacks will be available for genuine selection. Quotas can only be manipulated to an extent before the public stops supporting it. The government’s economic and educational policies are going to stretch the time it takes to achieve this.
Sports development must start at primary school level. Until this comes to pass, implementing quotas at professional level is a hiding to nothing.

Sara Gon is a Policy Fellow at the IRR, a think tank that promotes economic and political liberty. Follow the IRR on Twitter @IRR_SouthAfrica.

Read the article on Politicsweb here

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