Johannesburg - A day after starting his new position as Athletics SA (ASA) administrator, Zola Majavu said on Friday he had already rectified some operational issues.
Majavu was appointed by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) last week, and took up his post on Thursday, after Sascoc suspended the entire ASA board for the second time in less than four years.
"I asked the ASA financial manager (Terrence Magogodela) to inform me of any pressing issues," Majavu said at the ASA head office in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Friday.
"It was made very clear to me that there were very serious financial concerns."
Majavu said staff had not been paid for two months and municipal bills had not been paid for four months. The municipality was threatening to cut the electricity supply to the federation's office.
There was enough money in the ASA account, according to Majavu, to pay outstanding salaries 10-fold.
Staff had not been paid because the suspended board members had focused on their constant in-fighting and ignored operational issues.
"It's atrocious, silly in the extreme, not to pay people's salaries, apart from it being illegal," he said.
While the ASA account had been frozen, and Majavu could not yet access funds, he said Sascoc had come to the rescue, and outstanding salaries and municipal bills had been paid on his first day in office.
Preparations had not yet begun for South Africa to host the African Junior Athletics Championships in June. While Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy confirmed the event would go ahead, Majavu said there were more pressing issues at hand.
"We are focusing on basic operational issues this week," he said.
"We will then work on the ASA programme in the coming months."
While Majavu had been mandated to have a new ASA board in place within 120 days, he said he had included a clause in his contract with Sascoc to allow him more time if needed.
"The task I've been given is quite mammoth because Sascoc wants finality on this issue," Majavu said.
"If I can do this in 60 days, I'll be happy."
He confirmed the arbitration hearing between suspended ASA president James Evans and the board, in which Majavu would not play an active role, would start on April 29. The arbitrator had set a deadline to complete the hearing by May 10.
Reddy, meanwhile, believed the ongoing issues at ASA were a result of in-fighting between different factions, with provincial members picking sides in quarrels between board members.
"We must first focus on the provinces and ensure the correct structures are in place," Reddy said.
"We will then ensure that constitutional concerns are met before we deal with national issues. Hopefully the board that will be elected from this process will have the interests of athletics at heart."